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The Lake News Online
  • Guest column: Only the high lotteries really count these days

  • For most of us poor saps, playing the lottery only when the jackpot gets high is like a homely and uninteresting guy not asking anyone out unless they are very bright and exceptionally good looking.
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  • For most of us poor saps, playing the lottery only when the jackpot gets high is like a homely and uninteresting guy not asking anyone out unless they are very bright and exceptionally good looking.
    I'm sure the payoff appears enticing, but you're not going to win much money, which is good in the long run because you're probably not going to be spending many dollars on dates, either.
    I read in the newspaper not long ago that one of the results of mega-lotteries — and maybe greed — is that more and more people only are playing the lottery when the jackpot becomes so high they wouldn't know what to do with the money anyway.
    About $550 million comes to mind. No matter how many financial dreams you have, after the first $100 million or so you'd really just be buying things you never knew you needed — probably never knew existed.
     
    IN THE OLD DAYS
     
    Remember when lotteries first became legal? The most you could win was about $1 million. It's paltry now, but it sure seemed like a lot at the time.
    It was so much that you'd have to hide it from people you thought would borrow it from you.
    You might even have to move to avoid them, but the good news was now you could afford a better home in a gated community.
    Then the jackpots started creeping up — first $3 million, then $5 million and $10 million.
    After an occasional jackpot of $20 million or more, it hardly seemed worth playing the lottery for a mere $1 million anymore.
    The most you'd get after taxes is a few hundred thousand bucks. Chicken feed. You'd probably have to keep working.
    These days, I get the feeling that it takes much more than that to get many people interested.
    "I only play when the pot is $100 million or more."
    Yeah, and I only golf if Tiger Woods calls and wants me to fill out a foursome with Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy.
     
    DREAMING BIG
     
    Oh, sure, there are the regular lotto people who play every week. In fact, they might prefer it when the jackpot is low.
    Fewer people playing means less competition, lowering the odds they'll win to roughly the chance that Cuba will become our 51st state.
    When the jackpot gets astronomical, and millions more lottery tickets are sold, winning would be kind of like Cuba being admitted by the end of the year.
    Page 2 of 2 - And that brings us to a factor that we probably should consider as we decide when — or if — to buy lottery tickets.
    We shouldn't expect to win.
    If giving people money — just handing it out sort of randomly — is entertaining to us, we should buy tickets, no matter how big the jackpot is.
    But, if fantasizing is the important thing to us, I suppose we should wait until we no longer can even fathom how we'd spend all the money we won't end up winning.
    Not winning $50 million probably isn't as much fun as not winning $550 million.
    Dream big.
     
     

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