Time for the winning numbers in the latest Powerball lottery, and they are… certainly not any of these:
In case you were under a rock and didn’t catch any of the relentless media coverage, the multi-state Powerball lottery reached an all-time high jackpot of $1.586 billion dollars. Yes, billion with a “B”. Normally, I do not play any lotteries; I’m one who tends to keep my proverbial nose to the grindstone and earn any money that goes into my bank account, not spend $2 on every game or scratch-off the Wisconsin Lottery offers. This past Wednesday, however, the siren song was far too loud, and though I and everyone else who plays Powerball faces very, very long odds to win the jackpot (we’ve a better chance of Catholic sainthood), I stopped off at the supermarket, dropped down $2, and let the lottery machine pick the numbers.
The next morning, I heard the news that not one but three jackpot-winning tickets were sold. And though none of those 3 tickets were sold in Wisconsin, players here didn’t loose out on the big bucks: As the below tweet and this press release indicated, 13 folks here in the Badger State, and 4 here in Dane County, picked the right numbers (4 of 5 + the powerball) to win the “2nd runner-up” prize.
Naturally, none of the numbers on my ticket shown above did not match the winning numbers drawn on Wednesday night. I mean, not even close. (Darn that QuickPick machine.) I admit I was disappointed, not so much because I didn’t match any of the numbers but I could’ve used my $2 on something much more meaningful… like, say, anything.
That’s not to say I don’t imagine about what I would do with $1.5 billion or whatever jackpot any lottery would offer. For sure, the convenience of having more money than I would ever see in 100 lifetimes would make imagining what to do with it easier than having only three wishes. But with $1.5 billion in money also comes 1.5 billion ideas on what to use it on. Yes, I’d certainly give shares to my family, setting aside some for my nieces when they grow up and set out on their own. I’d also think long and hard about going back to school. Or by a new car. Or a house. Or a whole lot of whatever else. Or I could do nothing at all and just go back to work the very next day, knowing that if something negative happens in my career, I’d have a very, very soft mattress to fall back on.
But I understand the reality: The only way I’m ever going to see $1.5 billion in cold, hard cash is through finding a magic lamp on some beach somewhere and asking the genie inside it for the dough. So, I’ll remain modest when it comes to playing the lottery. Heck, until last Wednesday, the last time I plunked $2 on any type of lottery ticket (scratch-off, number draw, or whatever) was… uh, I can’t remember when it was. (What year is this, by the way?) I’ll also try not to pay attention to the (over)hype avalanche that will certainly occur the next time a super ginormous jackpot accumulates. As well, I just brush off the laments of those around me who say they play the lottery but don’t hit it big. I know that part, as I sit next to someone at work every day who insists he’ll win the lottery (and win big) and not show up to work the next morning. (Gee, modest much?)
Oh, and I will definitely never heed the advice of shysters such as this guy:
Thank goodness I never turn my TV to the network he was appearing on, but this guy, who claimed to have won the lottery seven times (single digit prizes, I presume) recently appeared on what passes for a legitimate American news source, where he offered this bit of advice and strategy to viewers and the hosts who breathlessly (and mindlessly) lapped it up:
“There is no last-minute, one particular thing you can do to increase your chances of winning. Except — this is going to sound bad but it’s the only answer — buy as many tickets as you can afford. That’s the key.”
“Buy as many tickets as you can afford”? Yes, he did follow up to recommend a bit of restraint (i.e. don’t spend what you can’t afford), but the thought of spending all your hard-earned, well-saved dough on chances in a lottery in which the odds are still against you is… well, the worst idea ever (even this columnist agrees).
So, take the advice of those who figure the odds of getting struck by lighting, crushed by a vending machine, or a lot of other dark thoughts are better than winning the Powerball lottery: Keep the $2 in your wallet, which is what I do much more often. But if you really, really want to play… well, I don’t mean this to be an endorsement of playing, but if you do play, then do so only in moderation: Buy a ticket only occasionally. Perhaps try a game that doesn’t have such astronomical odds as Powerball, which, according to the ticket I did buy, has odds of 1 in 292,201,338 of winning the jackpot. (Wisconsin’s lottery is required to express the odds of winning any prize in the fine print on both tickets and promotions.) And above all, don’t be like that guy and “buy as many tickets as you can afford.” Because, really, saving the $2 and being happy about it can be better than winning $1.5 billion.