Last night's Powerball jackpot was the highest in the game's history and the second-largest top prize in US lottery history, and now there are two winners, one from Missouri and one from Arizona. The record $579.9 million jackpot will be split between them. If you are disappointed you weren't one of them, then there is only one thing to say: Duh.
I mean, really. Did you think you would win?
The first lottery ticket I ever bought in my life was last March during the $656 million Mega Millions jackpot craze. It was fun and felt like the right thing to do from a pop culture perspective, but generally I think the lottery is just depressing. It's like a way of making people hope for something that is next to impossible.
The odds aren't good. Hate to break it to you, but it's a fact. The lottery is just kind of a sad thing in many ways.
It's the hope that things will get better and the reality that they probably won't. It's the fantasy of stopping a life that includes working a job you hate for years on end and wasting your life hating where you spend such a big chunk of it.
The lottery keeps people from really evaluating their choices and making wiser ones because they can say things like, "when I strike it rich" or "when I hit the mega millions," rather than using education and specialization to find a career path that doesn't feel monotonous and tedious and hated.
The lottery represents a depressing truth about our country and, in the end, it also doesn't really help anyone. Even those who win it. Since so many who play the lottery don't know a lot about money, the horror stories that come from winners are almost worse than those of us who don't win. Family members beg for money, the winner makes horrible investments, and very often, the money doesn't even last a few years.
Sure, those who play it wisely and win DO end up set for life, but anyone looking at the lottery as their meal ticket or their pass out of a bad life is going to be sorely disappointed. We all know the odds and yet some of us just keep on hoping.
Maybe instead of this false hope, people would be better off learning to make their own luck.
Do you play the lottery?
Image via Sean MacEntee/Flickr