Like millions of Americans, Debbie and I sometimes become infected with lottery fever.
It never happens when the prize pool is just a few million dollars. But when the lottery becomes a headline on the nightly news and front page newspaper coverage keeps the excitement building, we find ourselves caught up in the heat of Powerball lottery fever.
When the lottery prize exceeds $250 or $300 million, when the national news shows people lining up for blocks as they wait to purchase a chance to win all or part of those millions, well … we just can’t resist.
That happened again earlier this month. The jackpot was reported to be in excess of $1 billion. So, the next time I walked into the Stop-n-Go to pay for gas, I also laid 20 bucks on the counter and said, “Give me ten auto-lotto chances and make sure there’s a winner in there.”
She smiled like she had heard that line at least a thousand times, and said, “I certainly hope it’s a winner.”
“What would you do with all that money?” She asked. I told her I wasn’t sure, but that my kids and grandkids wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Then, with a sly grin on her face, she told me that if I won, she would certainly be available for adoption.
I told her that if she sold me a winning ticket, I would share my winnings with her.
We all know that buying a lottery ticket is a horrible, stupid investment. We all know that the odds of winning are 1 in 292 million, but doggone it, we like to dream.
I reminded Debbie that, although we both know that the odds of buying a winning ticket are incredibly slim, the odds of finding a winning ticket laying in a parking lot are even slimmer. So, we might as well buy a few tickets and enjoy fantasying about what we would do with our share of the billion dollars.
So, it turned out that just a few weeks ago, three lucky people purchased winning Powerball lottery tickets. Eventually, they will split the mega-prize pool of $1.5 billion. It’s almost impossible to imagine what to do with a windfall of $500 million, let alone if one person had won the entire $1.5 billion, but it’s fun to dream.
There would probably be a new home in our future. Our church wouldn’t have to worry about maintaining our beautiful old building. Our kids would have very few worries. College education for our grandchildren would be guaranteed. Our parents would live in absolute comfort. Life would be good. It was fun to dream about the possibilities of a future with nearly unlimited access to resources. It was fun to dream.
We dreamt dreams that were worth every penny of the $20 we paid for our 10 lottery chances.
Okay, again … the odds of winning the Powerball lottery are absolutely horrible. Buying a ticket, expecting to win, is foolish.
It is more likely that you’ll be struck by lightning than it is that you’ll win the Powerball lottery.
It is more likely that you’ll be eaten by a shark than it is that you’ll win the Powerball lottery.
It’s is probably more likely that you’ll get hit by lightning, while being eaten by a shark than it is that you’ll win the Powerball lottery. But, it is fun to dream.
Just this afternoon we finally checked out lottery tickets. Yes, we won.
On one of our 20 chances, we had the first number and the Powerball number on one line.
We won $4.
After dinner, I stopped at the Stop-n-Go to cash in my big winnings.
The same girl who sold me my ticket was there to pay out my big winnings. She asked if I wanted the money or whether I wanted two more tickets. I told her I wanted my cash winnings; that I didn’t want the payments; that I would take the lump sum of $4.
She counted out four, old, worn wrinkled one-dollar bills. I asked if she remembered my promise to share the prize winning with her. She smiled. I gave her a dollar.
All in all, I think I got at least $20 worth of pleasure from buying that ticket.
Randy Riley is President of Council of Wilmington.