Just a few short weeks ago many Long Islanders’ dreams of winning a $500 million Powerball jackpot would have focused on buying a second home and a third car. Now, post-Sandy, at least some of them are hoping for a win so they can buy a first home and any car that doesn’t have seaweed on the dashboard.
The drawing is at 11 p.m. this evening, and the odds of winning are about 195 million to one: in other words, I have a better chance of being propositioned by Sophia Vergara at the exact same moment I am hit by a meteor than I do of cashing the big ticket. Your odds may differ slightly, if you are more attractive to latin beauties than I, or less attractive to meteors.
I buy tickets whenever the jackpot gets big, because I think it’s a great investment, not so much financially as for entertainment. For $2 I can get a ticket, and thus a license to daydream for several days about everything I’d do if I won. Admittedly, I actually spent $22, but I COULD have purchased my fantasizing rights for $2.
And in this fairly unusual case, because the jackpot has rolled over 16 times without being won, you can also argue that the tickets are a sound investment. With odds of 195 million to 1 against winning and tickets at $2 apiece, the potential payout has to be $390 million to produce a positive expectation of profit. In this case, the jackpot will be at least $500 million, so buying tickets isn’t just fun, it’s mathematically reasonable.
So enjoy yourself. Imagine quitting your job in some ugly, ferociously anti-social way that eventually involves cops and psychiatrists(not me, boss, I love what I do).
I bought my tickets in league with a family member and colleagues this time, which is okay. I guess. Sometimes it seems like it would be a lot more fun to win if everybody else I loved and worked with didn’t, because my joy would be amplified by their continuing misery. And they’d have to beg me for things.
But if the win comes, I’ll take it anyway. And if not, I at least got to have the daydreams.