The Powerball is up to $1.3 billion. It’s the highest lottery prize ever, in the entire world. Yesterday, it was at $900 million, but no one won. Which is crazy, because I think I read somewhere they were selling $16,000 worth of tickets a minute on Saturday prior to the drawing.
I decided to buy lottery tickets, something I don’t normally do because honestly I think playing the lottery is like throwing money to the wind. I can’t really tell you why I did buy tickets other than it is exciting to dream of what one would do with that kind of money if one won.
I devised a strategy. I decided I should let the computer pick the numbers, and I wouldn’t buy all my tickets at one convenience store, I would go to multiple stores to buy a certain amount.
My first stop was the 7-Eleven. There was a huge line. A man in front of me bought $150.00 worth of tickets, so that’s 75 tickets. I bought $4 worth.
I then went across the street to the Kwik-Serve and asked for 2 Powerball tickets. The man laughed and said, “And I suppose one of them should have the winning numbers.” I said that would be very nice if he could arrange it.
I went to several other places. One store had photos of people with winning scratch-off tickets bought at that particular store. I was feeling very hopeful. I asked the man what was the largest amount of tickets someone had purchased in his store, he tells me $900 worth. I say I sure hope that was an office pool, where everyone had pooled their money for a certain amount of tickets. He said he wasn’t sure, but for the man’s sake he hoped so as well.
At another store, the man behind the counter asked me if I won would I give him a million dollars. I said, doesn’t the store that sells the winning ticket get a cut. He said “Yes, 1 percent of the prize amount.” With some rapid fire calculations I figured that was $9 million. I said, “Well, won’t you guys get a huge sum of money for selling the winning ticket?” He said the owner would get the money, not him. He said he would still be as “broke as sh*t” either way, so if I could spare a million or two, he would appreciate it.
Another convenience store, right down the street from our house, was doing a brisk business in Powerball tickets. I have known the owners of this store for years. The guy behind the counter says the largest amount of tickets he has sold was $300. This was for an office pool, then the same guy buys $20 more for himself. I asked him if he thought that was right, the guy buying $20 for himself. What if the winning ticket was in the $300 worth, and he switched it and said it was a ticket he had purchased for himself? The guy behind the counter didn’t think it was right either.
I discovered I had $3 and 4 quarters left, so a total of $4 – enough for 2 more Powerball tickets. I get in my car and drive across the street to the liquor store. While I am driving there, “Miracles” comes on Pandora (I am listening to the 70s Light Rock station). I think to myself, this must be a sign. Miracles can happen. Or it could be some creepy “Final Destination” thing, but I shake that thought out of my mind. I buy my final 2 tickets. I have 17 Powerball tickets now.
I spent $34, which I know really I could have just flushed down the toilet for the same results. I didn’t win. I think I got 2 numbers right and none of the Powerball numbers, which was 13. To win you have to have 5 numbers and the Powerball number. Oh, well.
I was thinking though, why do otherwise relatively sensible people buy Powerball tickets when the prize gets to a certain amount? I think it is the excitement of just being able to grab onto a dream for a little while. With that kind of money, the winner is released from the day to day grind of going to work, worrying about where they are going to get money to feed their kids, pay their rent. They are free to do whatever they want, no longer go to some job they don’t really enjoy day in and day out, live in a house or apartment they hate. They can travel, live in a nice house, buy clothes, and be generous.
Of course, we have heard the horror stories of people winning lotteries and frittering their winnings away in several years, some have even ended up dead, either through suicide or murdered by greedy relatives or acquaintances. But to be able to dream, even for a day or two, is so worth the $2 ticket price even though the odds of winning are 1 in 292 million.
The other thing I noticed yesterday when buying my tickets from the various places was the sense of community. The odds are so astronomical that it levels the playing field for everyone. The odds are the same for the rich, the poor and all those in between. I saw Mercedes parked outside the convenience stores and beat up pick-ups, and everyone inside patiently waiting for those tickets to dream. We all love to dream, even if it is for just a little while.
And because no one won last night, the dream is out there still, waiting for someone. Will I buy more tickets? Absolutely!!!!!
Photo credit: wsbtv.com