The Odds of Winning the Lottery . . .

PROBLEM #6: Why shouldn’t I play the lottery?

The appeal of possibly (and I use this word loosely) winning millions of dollars draws many people to spending their hard-earned money on lottery tickets. This can be a PROBLEM.



SOLUTION: Don’t play the lottery – Ever. I’m going to try to convince you that is statistically stupid to buy a lottery ticket.

The average chance of winning the lottery is estimated to be 1 in 14,000,000. Granted, the odds change slightly from game to game – but that’s why it’s an average. And . . . that’s a lot of zeros. And yet people keep playing. I think that the reason that people play the lottery, aside from the chance to win millions, is that they don’t understand such a large number. You think you can win. Let me see if I can illustrate how large of a number the odds represent, and how you won’t win.

Imagine that you are one of those “seconds”.


Imagine that you counted to 100 one second at a time. It would take you 1 minute and 40 seconds to count to 100. Now, just keep counting . . . to 1000. It would take you 16 minutes and 40 seconds total. That’s not too bad . . . right? Now suppose you continue counting to 100,000. It would take you 27 hours, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds. Think about that number – one hundred thousand – 27 hours. Think of all that happens in 27 hours. One second in 27 hours.

Now – 14 million. Are you ready for this? What do you think? How long will it take to count to 14 million, one second at a time? Take a deep breath . . . It will take you a little more than 162 days. 162 DAYS! That’s one big number! That’s almost 6 months! Now imagine that you are one of those “seconds” that you just counted through. Do you really think that you will be one of the “seconds” that wins? Are you starting to see how small of a chance you have to win it big? Why would you waste your money on the lottery?

Scratchoff lottery game

You may say, “Well of course I won’t win the big prize or the jackpot. But I could win one of the other prizes.” I researched several games while writing this post. On all of them, the odds to win $1000 or less were about 1 in 1,000,000. That’s a one in million chance. Did you ever hear that phrase before? “That’s a one in million . . . ” or “They’re one in a million.” That means that you won’t find something or someone like that EVER again, so hang on to it/them.


So the question is: Are you willing to spend your hard-earned money on a “one in a million” chance?

I’m not.

So the next time you are tempted to buy a lottery ticket at the gas station . . . please don’t, buy a cup of coffee and a doughnut instead. At least you get something that tastes good (you can’t eat lottery tickets).

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