I can’t feel bad about desperately wanting to win tonight’s $550 million Powerball jackpot. That’s why I threw $6 into the office pool today — it’s $2 per ticket — along with 15 of my co-workers. If all goes right tonight, we each stand to make a cool $14 million. Nice coin, for sure, but probably not enough for a 28-year-old to pack it in and retire.
I don’t think anyone buys a Powerball ticket without knowing it’s a near certainty it will be a loser. See those 48 number combinations above? There’s no way we, me and my co-workers, are going to trump the 1-in-175,000,000 odds of winnings. Then again, I would’ve said with the same level of certainty in college the doe-eyed girl with the dimples I would always see around campus will never speak to me.
She’s my wife now.
So, why play Powerball? Because we all need a) something to keep us dreaming and b) possibility.
Something to keep us dreaming
Look, I’m not afraid to admit I’m often concerned about money. I’m not obsessed with it, but I understand the things I want in life — a comfortable home, a respectable car, vacations to relax, nice things — require money. But more importantly, money buys time. The more money you have, the less time you have to spend trying to earn money to pay for life’s basic necessities, not to mention the fun things that make life enjoyable.
When I think about winning $14 million, I actually don’t think about retiring. No, not at this age. But I do think about earlier retirement. I think about taking vacations that are truly exciting. Far-flung destinations, man. Machu Picchu and shit, not just depressing staycations. Forget that. I think about buying things as I need them, but also as I want them. I think about not checking my bank account 12 times per day.
My millionaire dreams are hardly grandiose. Pay off my debts. Pay off the debts of my family members and friends. Visit some nice places. Buy a new home, new car. Put money in savings, put money toward causes I believe and put money to work in safe investments. These are some of my dreams and for them I will not apologize.
“That’s a waste of money. Did you know the odds of winning are 1 in 175,000,000? If you stacked 175,000,000 Q-tips, you could reach Saturn!!!”
Funny how everyone turns into Nate Silver once the Powerball jackpot balloons to half a billion. Look, I know the odds of winning are terrible, pitiful, pathetic. But I’ve seen some weird shit happen in my day. Furthermore, I don’t look at possibility in terms of likelihood, but rather its mere existence.
Is it possible I’ll win the Powerball jackpot? Yes.
Is it likely? Of course not.
But is there a remote possibility? Yes.
Good enough for me.
Long odds shouldn’t deter you from making a cheap bet now and then. (NOTE: I’m speaking metaphorically. Literally betting on long odds is actually a miserable gambling strategy. That’s what idiots do.) So what I’m out $6 if/when the numbers are drawn tonight? I can live with that. I can return to my non-millionaire life without really having lost anything.
In fact, maybe I gained something today: The opportunity to reflect on what role money — and the possibility of having a SHITLOAD of it — has in my life.