Mega Millions: Same State, Different Number

A little over a month ago, I was receiving text messages from friends and family across the country about my safety. Those close to me were concerned about the possible impact Hurricane Florence could have on South Carolina. During the time of crisis, it was comforting to know that people were thinking of me.

Today, I once again received text messages from friends and family across the country.  Similarly, it was because South Carolina was once again in the news. However, the correspondence wasn’t about my personal welfare. Rather, it was about my possible financial fortune.

I must deliver the disappointing news that I am not the winner of the Mega Millions jackpot, a prize valued at almost TWO BILLION dollars.

We bought a Mega Millions ticket but we aren’t taking home $1.5 billion.

This morning, news broke that the winning ticket was sold in South Carolina. Before it was revealed that the ticket was printed in Simpsonville, a city 230 miles from Myrtle Beach, I politely told my contacts that while we did purchase a single ticket on Saturday night (at Sidney’s urging as I don’t usually play the lotto), we didn’t possess the slip of paper that would dramatically change the life of every person that is part of the Reser/Mathis family tree.


On my way to the gym this morning, I received the tweet that the Mega Millions winning ticket was sold in South Carolina. I read the linked article and sent a screenshot to Sidney. Before looking at my phone again, I decided to exercise and let myself daydream a bit on what we would do if the unbelievable happened. By the time my workout was finished, and I am 100% serious about this, I was more scared about winning the prize than excited. The reasoning for that needs to be saved for a future blog post.

The text conversation I had with Sidney this morning.

I thank Sidney for giving it to me straight that we didn’t win. It would have been easy to pull my leg a bit. Even though I would have been expecting it, any confirmation from Sid that we had gotten lucky would have raised my hopes – despite the fact that I was feeling more scared than euphoric to win. My belief is that elevating someone’s spirits and then crushing them is the cruelest type of joke out there.

I guess just the simple fact that the winning ticket came from South Carolina did mean we “beat the odds” so to speak. But I don’t need the Mega Millions to tell me that I have good fortune. I have a beautiful wife and a precious daughter and by my account that already makes me the luckiest guy around. Don’t Blink.

Mixed Feelings on Mega Millions

Earlier this week the nation got wrapped up in the second biggest Mega Millions jackpot in history. With $636 million at stake, lottery fever infected many of my friends and family. No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape the constant media coverage about the outrageous amount of money up for grabs.

I don’t play the lottery. I take one look at the 1 in 258.9 million odds and don’t even bother. I don’t need to be told the unrealistic, crazy, outlandish events that are more likely to happen to me than winning Mega Millions. That 1 in 258.9 million line stands alone. Enough said.

Don’t be offended by me if you get excited by playing the lottery but I find games like Mega Millions incredibly boring. You purchase a ticket, let it collect dust for a couple days, and then check your phone or newspaper to see if you won. Many times the numbers you chose aren’t even in the same solar system as the winning numbers. Quite often, there isn’t even a winning ticket sold. Why try to win a prize when there is a good shot that the prize won’t even be awarded?

I have people close to me who have defied the odds and actually won jackpots. My brother won a $25,000 jackpot on a card game (and managed to squander it all in about a year) and my great uncle once won a sizeable chunk of cash in a local and much smaller lottery game. But these events don’t entice me at all to play Mega Millions. I think with my brother and uncle already collecting on large sums of money and beating the odds, they have removed any and all chances that anyone in my bloodline will ever get lucky again. Besides, the odds that my brother and uncle overcame pale in comparison to what it would take to win Mega Millions. I am pretty sure that the chances are greater for them to win their respective jackpots fifteen more times in 2014 on the same fifteen days of that year than the chances are of ever producing the winning Mega Millions ticket. And by the way, my great uncle is dead.

I don’t understand why people will wait in long lines for hours on end to purchase these tickets either. Or I don’t understand why people pull their hair out trying to come up with the numbers they will choose. Or I don’t understand why people throw away $100 on something that is less likely to happen than getting struck by lightning four different times in a day.

However, I must admit that this week I actually heard a sane reason for purchasing a Mega Millions lottery ticket. While watching a news report they talked to a lady who walked up to a convenient store counter and simply purchased a ticket. She wasn’t wearing a ridiculous lucky hat, she didn’t spend her whole paycheck, and she didn’t harass the worker on if the ticket would be a winner or not. She was just a normal person participating in Mega Millions. When the reporter asked her why she plays, she responded in this way:

“Because it lets me dream.”

You know what? I can live with that. I can understand that. To close your eyes and to think about winning that jackpot or to make the time go faster while traveling this holiday season and think about what you would do with $600+ million dollars is legitimate. It is a fun fantasy and a good way to escape. Even though I am still too cheap and realistic to fork over the cash for a ticket, I would say that the $1 price that people pay to dream is worth it. There are too many negative things in this world that we can allow to overtake our minds. Even though it is the long shot of all long shots, I can’t overly criticize something that gives someone else a little bit of relief from the rigors of life. Don’t Blink.