Five Dollars to Dream

In case you were unaware yesterday with the deluge of “like this and we’ll share it with you” photos on Facebook, the Lotto Max jackpot was fairly big last night.  $50,000,000 for the big winner, and 10 more $1,000,000 bonus draws.  (Side note: 3 winning tickets for the $50 million, 6 winning bonus millions.) We know the obvious reason we play and the equally obvious reason we don’t: You can’t win without a ticket, and the odds are not in your favour.  But to that second group of non-believers I offer this: Maybe it isn’t about the chances of winning…maybe it’s about paying for peace of mind.

The odds are indeed not in your favour, as it wouldn’t exactly be profitable to do something that gave out more money than it took in.  But you really do have a better chance at “car accident/plane crash/lighting strike/take your pick traumatic event” than winning.  The table up on the OLG website does the math for you:

Those numbers don’t exactly build confidence in what might happen. To make it a little more personal, let’s say that you are I were going to play a game of “play the odds”. It’s a very simple game:  You give me $5.  The end.  BUT, the eighth time you give me the $5, I’ll give it back to you.  So let’s look at the amount of money you’ve won:

8 times giving $5 = $40 for me, -$40 for you.  I give it back once = $35 for me, -$35 for you.

Now remember, that’s just ONE ticket you’ve bought.  And those are just the odds for getting your money back.  Anything else?  The odds go up.  1 in 70 chance you’ll get $20?  It’ll cost you $350 to get it.  Five out of seven numbers?  $7920.  And yesterday’s five out of seven made you a hefty $122.50.  And so on and so forth.  Yes, the “you’ll never win” crowd has some pretty good stats to back them up, don’t they.  But is that all it’s really about?  The winning?

We all buy things we need, but we also buy things we like or make us feel good.  Yesterday we bought about $30 worth of appetizers instead of getting a “real” meal because it’s what we felt like.  We could have just gotten “regular” food for less money and eaten it, but it was the fact we would enjoy the appetizers that made it appealing, so that’s what we did.  Getting things we like puts us in a good mood, whether it’s food or clothes or tickets for something, electronics or make up or a CD we like (people still buy CDs, right?)…it gives us an emotional/mental boost.

SO, one would argue that if I said “Give me $5 and I’ll put you in a good frame of mind for the next 30 minutes”, that on certain days, that would be worth it.  Heck, if you make $10 an hour, that’d be what you’d lose for taking an unscheduled 30 minute break.  That is what happens to me when I buy a ticket.  I don’t usually buy it when the jackpot is low (and it’s not like the odds are better or worse), we just all look at that big number and think.  Think about what “that kind of money would do for me.”

$50 million is a ridiculous number…even split three ways like last night, that’s $16.6 million.  Everyone has the “what I’d do first” idea.  I’d want to hit the road and travel for a while, I’d want to give some to charity and family members, but honestly I’m that asshole that would probably sit on it for a while and make people go through stupid “tests” of character, then reveal my winning and spread it around.  And we all do that.  We all think about what we would do, how we would feel, how it would affect others and how everything would change.  And because we’re the ones doing the thinking, it’s always the most positive outcome for us, because it’s what we want.

Hell, $5 to get to poke around in that mental bliss for a while?  That’s not really too bad a price to pay now is it?

Of course, there is the “check the numbers” mental crush that comes after the draw…the 10 seconds of hopeful scanning that’s quickly replaced with resigned acceptance that all you’ve won is a free trip to the recycling bin.  Some would say that’s not worth it because of how it makes them feel.  But that in itself should be counted as a $5 wake up call.  If you’re really that upset about not winning, if you can’t just shrug it off with a “well, that’s too bad” and get on with it…if the disappointment clings to you a little longer than it should, you’ve just paid five bucks to realize something isn’t the way you want it in your life.  Something needs to change for you to be happier.  You need to figure out what’s not working for you and what you can do to make it better.  “Not enough money” isn’t a full answer, it’s the beginning…why do you need more?  What do you have to do to get it?  Why isn’t what you have now enough?  Even though taking a hard look at where you are isn’t the most pleasant thing at times, it does help you to focus on where you’d rather be, and what you’ll have to do to get there.  And if that costs five bucks, I think that is a good way to spend it.

It really is just five dollars to dream.  Some think it’s worth it, others don’t.  That may or may not change at different times in your life.  But whatever decision you make, and whatever result comes of it, it’s just another chance to do a systems check and see where you are with yourself.    That’s on the deep level though.  I mean, it is just a lottery ticket.

And it is just a dream, right?

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