Saturday, April 20, 2013

Urge to write another article on the lottery

Last night on the way home from the Hearthstone Open Full Moon ritual, I passed the billboard by Colfax and York that advertises the Powerball and Mega Millions. And promptly had the urge to go home and write another article about how bad an investment the lottery was.

The billboard had a picture of Ben Franklin looking shocked (or were they aiming for interested) at the amounts that the Powerball and Mega Millions are up to. They want to imply that Ben Franklin would buy a lottery ticket or three. He wouldn't--I am sure of that from reading his autobiography (which I have misplaced--the only reason that I am not writing the article). Franklin believed in hard work to become rich, not luck.

This is a belief that I have also picked up over the years. Today (as my regular followers know) every time I get the urge to buy a lottery ticket, I write a lottery article instead (better return for my time and money). Not that I had the urge to buy a ticket last night--no, it is simply that I had the urge to mock the billboard (hence this blog post).

If you are curious to read my articles talking about how the lottery is a bad investment, here are some links:

Save money by banning the lottery from your budget.

Do lottery tickets make good gifts?

Misleading lottery ads

1 comment:

Scott Stenwick said...

Hopefully I'm not being too much of a smart-ass by pointing out that most people become rich because of luck, regardless of how hard they work. This is especially true in professions like writing - it takes about the same amount of effort to write just about every novel, but only a tiny handful of them ever touch something in the zeitgeist and go on to become best-sellers.

Still, that being said, you're right in that from a game theory perspective a lottery like the Powerball is only worth playing when they payoff is greater than the odds of a win. At 100 million to one against, and since the "cash option" only returns a little over half the posted amount, it's quite rare for that to occur. Statistically, you're almost always better off saving your money.