I just read a report about what happens to Lottery winners within a few years of the windfall. Lotteries are kind of a modern thing. A hundred years ago your only way to make money legally was to either work hard or play bingo. But now they have these lotteries where you can win millions and millions of dollars just for buying a $10 ticket. The first section of this essay I read, was to explain why anybody who had even a passing grasp of high school math would not be suckered into playing a lottery. They say that there is more chance of being hit by lighting three times than there is of winning a lottery once. But in my opinion, they’re missing a key fact – no matter how bad the odds are, they are never zero. When they advertise with the slogan ‘You can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket’ that makes sense to me. Whereas saying ‘You have almost no chance of winning’ strikes me as irrelevant, except for the ‘almost’. And who would buy a ticket to be hit by lightning three times, even if the odds are better.
The next point is that when you win, you are winning other people’s money, other people who bought tickets and lost. It’s not a lost treasure tht you’re recovering. It’s losers’ money. So what? They knew what they were getting into. Unless they don’t have high school math but who’s fault is that? When the winner bought a ticket, it was based on hope, not expectation. Same thing with the losers. Nobody who wins ever feels bad for the losers. Every winner has been a loser at some point. And probably will be again.
This brings me to the key focus of the story which was that almost every time a poor person on the verge of bankruptcy wins the lottery, within a few years they’ve blown it all. Sometimes they end up in actually worse financial shape than they were before the win. And the conclusion the author came to was that people in economic distress should not be buying lottery tickets because they can’t afford to lose and even when they win, they will eventually lose. Huh? What kind of logic is that? How can winning a lottery be bad luck?
This author concludes that lotteries should be played for fun by people who are financially solvent and are not looking to the lottery to solve their cashflow problems. I beg to differ. I have a whole different take. I think if you’re financially solvent you shouldn’t be ALLOWED to buy a lottery ticket. Who wants to hear that Warren Buffet won the lottery? Not me. I’m rootin’ for the guy living under the bridge in a cardboard box. And so what if he blows it all in a couple of years? The rich guy would probably hide it in a Swiss bank account. The poor guy will just spend it. On toys and cigarettes and booze and who knows what. He’ll be helping his own community because anybody who lives under a bridge tends to shop locally. So all these businesses and stores and street vendors benefit. In a way, they’re all lottery winners. I say let the poor folks play and let’s all hope they win. And I’m fine with it, if they blow it all. My only hope is that they’ll put enough aside to be able to buy another lottery ticket.