I recently received a letter from my dad which included the 2 dollars Mega Millions ticket that he got here while he was visiting me, a dollar bill, and a note which told me to go cash the 1 dollar he’d won and use the two dollars to get a new ticket. “Good luck! :)” ended the note. As I’m sure you are all wondering, no, I did not win the 20 million jackpot last Tuesday night with the new 2 dollars ticket. So much for that new apartment I was dreaming about.
With all the stats that we’ve been introduced to, it’s always been about figuring out if there’s a pattern, a signal, in all the noise. Even in poker or blackjack, you can count cards to have a better chance at winning. But what about the lottery, which is supposedly truly randomized, or slot machines, which is arguable. What is the draw of these games when the odds are so against the player? According to Mega Millions website, the chance of winning the jackpot is just 1 in 260 million, so roughly 1.2 person would win if everyone (including the underage) in the US would buy a ticket. Put in that perspective, it’s a ridiculously small chance. However, maybe this is where they reel in players: the overall chance of winning any prize is only 1 in 15. That’s sounds actually decent, until you realize that’s only 6.67 %, and most of the money prizes is quite disproportional to the chance of winning it. I’m truly fascinated with how people are willing to cast their money for chance and their belief in “maybe this time, I’ll be lucky”. Even some of the most dedicated players (my great-grandmother who sits out on the porch and buys a ticket every morning) test their luck day after day to no prevail. But I supposed the idea of being that one lucky person is tempting enough. For me, the thrill of my first lottery ticket at 18 and Tuesday’s night waiting for the winning numbers to come out was enough, guess it’s taking a hard road to millionaire-status for me (sorry dad!).
But really, I wasn’t lucky enough to even be that 1 in 15?!