Lottery Madness Grips the Delusional Nation
August 22, 2001 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Lottery Madness Grips the Delusional Nation
Odds of winning Powerball: 80 million to one
Odds of dying in an airplane crash: 7 million to one
Odds of being hit by lightening: 600,000 to one
Odds of perishing in a California earthquake: 600,000 to one
Odds of dying in an automobile accident: 20,000 to one

While legalized gambling may suck, at least your life is priceless?
posted by yarf (31 comments total)
People might call the lottery a tax on the stupid... But I know lots of people that play. I guess they operate on the "but someone has to win" principle.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:03 AM on August 22, 2001

By definition, sooner or later somebody has to.

As long as I don't spend the kid's college tuition on it, why the vehement denouncements?
posted by Irontom at 8:13 AM on August 22, 2001

Hell, if you're gonna gamble, at least do it respectably, w/ cards or dice or horses or somesuch.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:30 AM on August 22, 2001

Odds of perishing in a California earthquake: 600,000 to one

I don't live in California, and I don't plan to visit. Do these odds also apply to me?
posted by wackybrit at 8:33 AM on August 22, 2001

Bitching about lotteries is a good way to feel like you're saving the masses from their own stupidity without actually having to expend any effort. Anyway, as long as the lottery proceeds go to a good cause, I don't see a problem with it. Does the Powerball fund any programs in the states which participate?
posted by darukaru at 8:33 AM on August 22, 2001

Using lottery proceeds to fund education is a fairly lame excuse. That money would've come from somewhere, via other, less regressive, taxes. And once states start relying on lottery funds for education, they stop appropriating "standard" funds, so the funding level is pretty much the same, with or without the lottery.

I don't like the idea of the state sanctioning gambling. Bad feelings about that.

Heh, that said.... $200,000,000?!? I have two tickets. Will update tomorrow, if I win.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:17 AM on August 22, 2001

damn, i just threw 2 bucks at the powerball. i should have wasted my money on something a little more useful. like playing time crisis at the arcade.

it's worth 2 bucks to me. i was going to waste the money on something just as useless anyway.

besides, would you want to be the poor guy that DIDN'T chip in to his office pool if it hits just because you know math?
posted by pup at 9:19 AM on August 22, 2001

I used to work with Lottery organizations all over the US and from what I have seen and heard I don't believe for a second that lottery proceeds are going where they want you to believe they are going. The organization that runs powerball is called MUSL (multi-state lottery).
posted by racer271 at 9:26 AM on August 22, 2001

It is not so much the belief I will win at Powerball, it is more the thirty minutes or so that I get to fantasize what I would do if I won.
posted by Uncle Joe's Brother at 9:31 AM on August 22, 2001

MrMoonPie is quite correct. In Arizona, once lottery proceeds started rolling in and going to education (and other areas approved by voters), the state Legislature began reducing spending in those areas by similar amounts. When Arizona joined the Powerball, our own twice-weekly big jackpot lottery took a nose dive, so there is now even less money to go around.
posted by jdbanks at 9:35 AM on August 22, 2001

"Never tell me the odds" - Han Solo *grin*
posted by thunder at 9:57 AM on August 22, 2001

"lotteries are tax for stupid people"

posted by jedwin at 10:43 AM on August 22, 2001

jdbanks has it right. education and other worthwhile programs may still get funded, but the burden of paying for them gets skewed towards the poor. IMLO (In My Liberal Opinion) that's bad.
posted by jpoulos at 11:35 AM on August 22, 2001

I've never bought a ticket in my whole life, and I just discreetly and sheepishly slipped a couple of bucks into the office pool. Chalk it up to just re-watching Waking Ned Devine the other day. For the rest of the day, I'll daydream about what I'll do with my share of the millions. Tomorrow I'll realize I didn't win and go back to being the jaded harpy that I am.
posted by kittyb at 12:00 PM on August 22, 2001

This is just going from memory as a former state lottery employee. I think sales figures showed most lottery tickets are purchased by white middle-class males.

Oh and I'am pretty sure I got a memo saying all lottery funds would go to lining the pockets of the rich.
posted by Wicker at 12:06 PM on August 22, 2001

In the monstrously-unlikely event that I am the sole winner of $200mil, I here and now make the following pledge: there will be one hell of a Metafilter contest, with more than one prize.

I'm not sure what the contest will be -- ask me after I win. But I promise it won't involve savage beatings at the hands of my secret police.
posted by aramaic at 12:33 PM on August 22, 2001

jedwin: i heard it as 'lotteries are a tax on people who cannot do math'.

years ago, i invested $5 on a michigan lotto ticket for which the computer chose the numbers. 4 numbers matched and i received a $100 payout. i've remained $95 ahead of the game ever since and i see no reason to risk changing that status!
posted by quonsar at 12:44 PM on August 22, 2001

Looking at the catalog of odds that started this thread, I was moved to wonder: where are the odds of the Pope being struck by a meteor?
posted by kindall at 1:52 PM on August 22, 2001

Calculate the odds of being struck by a meteor, then divide by six billion?
posted by darukaru at 2:30 PM on August 22, 2001

Minimum amount of money for California Lotto ticket: $1

Minimum amount of money for one hand at a blackjack table in Reno or Vegas: $5

Amount of time it takes for California Lotto cycle to be played out if you purchased a ticket on Thursday morning for the Saturday Lotto: A little under three days

Amount of time it takes for cycle to be played out if you put $5 onto a blackjack table in Reno or Vegas for one bet: 57 seconds

Amount to pump a full tank of gas in your car for trip to Reno or Vegas: $25

Odds that you'll stay in Reno or Vegas for an extended period of time given that you pumped $25 of gas in your car and paid for a hotel room: 2 to one

Odds that you'll stick around a convenience store until Saturday until the Lotto numbers hit on your $1 ticket (barring insanity): 300,000 to one

Total price for someone who came to a convenience store to buy a $1 Lotto Ticket: $1 (unless they go hog-wild and spend an extra $4 for five Quick Picks)

Total average price for someone to go to Reno or Vegas and play $100 (minus hotel room, gas or food): $180, if they lose
posted by ed at 2:52 PM on August 22, 2001

"Statistics can be manipulated to say whatever you want. 45% of the people know that" Homer Simpson
posted by AVandalay at 4:21 PM on August 22, 2001

"There are three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics." -- Mark Twain
posted by ed at 4:33 PM on August 22, 2001

Personally, I couldn't give a fuck where the money from lotteries goes just as long as the winner's check goes into my pocket.

I'm already practicing my "I'm quitting my job and buying this TV station" quote.
posted by Option1 at 8:11 PM on August 22, 2001

Well, it looks like nobody won again (according to the official Powerball site, that is...). It's a good thing I didn't join the office pool, as they were expecting $20 out of each person. They finally dropped it down to $10 for the last two runs. I still haven't put in.

One of our field service guys called me around 8 from the parking lot of a gas station and he said it was full of people buying nothing but lottery tickets. I guess there are a lot of people who aren't any good at math out there, or it's another case of people who only buy tickets when the jackpot goes over 100 million.
posted by Electric Elf at 1:42 AM on August 23, 2001

If the odds of winning are 1 in 80 million (not to mention the odds of winning non jackpot prizes), isn't it economically sound to play anytime the jackpot exceeds $80 million?
posted by Rockames at 12:10 PM on August 23, 2001

Sounds good Rockames....

clerk: How can I help you sir?
Rockames: Yes I'd like to buy 80,089,128 Powerball tickets
clerk: That's wonderful ! First I need you to fill out 80,089,128 playslips with every combination :)
Rockames: Yeah, ok I'll be right back.

sorry just having fun...It would take FOREVER to not just fill them all out, but running them through a terminal would take days. Ask racer271 he might know how long it would take?
posted by Wicker at 12:37 PM on August 24, 2001

I've been told someone (well many someones) tried to do this in virginia. A group of investors went to hundreds of different sites and tried to buy every number. They only got about halfway through but won the jackpot and a ton of the lesser prizes anyway. The practice has been outlawed since.
posted by Rockames at 2:04 PM on August 24, 2001

Good for them :)
Not surprising they would make it illegal.
posted by Wicker at 10:12 AM on August 25, 2001

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. An umemployed programmer in Kentucky stepped forward with one of the tickets thanking Jesus (of course). The news media was quick to tell us he has been drawing unemployment for 2 months since being laid off at Nortel.
posted by {savg*pncl} at 7:09 PM on August 26, 2001

The lottery is stupid. But is it really any more stupid than spending $8 or $10 on a bad film? Tha't probably the real test.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:22 PM on August 26, 2001

Yes I'd like to buy 80,089,128 Powerball tickets

hey! I've had that idea for some time. I don't know if I'm glad to see it actually worked, or if I'm disappointed I didn't try it first.

On a side note, I'd like to point out Mo Nickels' tips for how to protect yourself if you actually win the lottery from a previous thread. It's some of the best advice I've found on MeFi (even though I'll never be lucky enough to use it).
posted by jpoulos at 9:11 AM on August 27, 2001

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