Wednesday, October 6, 2010

People Who Play the Lotto are Stupid

Level 1: The Stupid Tax. 

Everyone hates paying taxes.  This makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is the millions of people who hate taxes but love lottery scratch off tickets.  Lottery tickets are voluntary taxes paid by people who don’t understand math.  Let us look at some odds:

Typical odds of winning a scratch off ticket: 1 in 5, with the win typically being a break even or very small gain. You just give your money away 80% of the time.  If you want to pay $10 or more, these odds can improves all the way up to 1 in 3, making you a loser only 2/3rd of the time.  One math blog has calculated the return on investment (ROI) on multi-state lotteries at -82%. Conservatively, we can say your return on investment (lol) is likely to be -35% to -50% on scratch offs.

Which is to say, scratch off tickets are taxes.

One favorite rationalization of paying voluntary regressive taxes is that “you can’t win if you don’t play”.  My way of thinking of this phrase is “You can’t be a broke-ass gambooling dipshit voluntarily spewing taxes for temporary and ultimately unsatisfactory dopamine releases if you don’t play”.

I suppose I should appreciate the dark irony of shared needs like education being supported by the bad decisions of the disproportionately poor and stupid, but I’d rather have state governments rely on a more sophisticated plan than exploiting sucker bets when they figure out how to pay for fundamental needs.

Raising funds through other types of exploitative suckers bets would be permissible, however.

Of course, I could be wrong, as guides for “How to Win Scratch Off Tickets” do exist.  Somehow these guides neglect to mention the fact that all of these games have losing odds.

The analogous type here is people who play slot machines.  People actually get excited to spend their leisure time paying someone to press a button for machines who light up all pretty.  God, I’m in the wrong business.

Level 2: Dreaming Endlessly About the Impossible.

Depending on structure, the odds of winning a multi-state lotto like powerball is approximately 1 in the odds that your father is actually your mother.

Actually, the odds of your father actually being your mother is already probably higher than winning a multi-state lotto. Fucking Trans Men.

Compared to winning a multi-state lotto, you are**:

  • 800 times more likely to die from a bee sting.
  • 70 times more likely to die from a snake bite.
  • 20 Times more likely to die from a lightning strike than you would be to win the lottery.
  • You are 10 times more likely to die in a car wreck *the very next time you drive*.  Not just some time in your life, but any old routine trip to work or sauntering on down bar to forget your soul-crushing day afterwards (the odds go slightly up for the trip home). You are only at least 1 million times likely to die this way over your life course.
  • 10 times more likely to be in a group of four playing golf, and having two of you hit a hole in one on the same hole.
  • Over 100 times more likely to get dealt a royal flush from the first five cards of a randomly shuffled deck.
  • You are more likely to be executed by the government. As in, wrongfully executed when you are innocent. 
  • You are more likely to die falling out of bed, from accidental poisioning, from drowning in the bathtub, from taking aspirin, from drinking tap water, or from flesh eating bacteria. 
I flipped a coin on showing a picture of flesh eating bacteria in action or a picture of a Bonobo playing with a dog. Lucky you. Heart warming story wrapped in sadness found here.

Still, millions of people sit around spending countless hours dreaming of this impossibility.  Seriously, people, at least fantasize about banging a super model or writing a New York Times bestseller.  I mean, those are dreams that are 1000 times and 80000 times more likely to happen than winning a multi-state lotto, respectively.

Yes, even you have a chance to live the dream.

Level 3: People who actually achieve the impossible.

Over the last few years, the notion that wealth is more likely to be a destabilizing and isolating force for those who acquire it than a means to improve their lives subjectively has immensely intrigued me.  While depending heavily on circumstances, windfall gains, such as winning big lotteries, are a prime example how such wins often ruin lives.  Suddenly any new friend is a potential con artist or swindler, family and old friends will often think more about your money than your relationship to them, and human relationships and self-directing autonomy is all subsumed under the weight of worrying about new found wealth.

I could write more about it, but the following links give great examples:

In an awesome irony, winning millions in a lotto could be the biggest loss you ever have.  The only people in a position to win the lotto without it ruining their lives are those who are financially secure through sound planning.  Of course, if you have these skills, you probably would never do stupid shit like buy lotto tickets in the first place.

Note: The skilled rich do not include people who happen to be born to the right vagina and inherited everything they had no matter how stupid or unskilled they are.

But don’t worry, the massive unluck of a multi-million dollar lotto win will never happen to you =)

**Note, these odds are all approximations.  So, instead of saying, 'You are 5 to 25 more times likely to die in a car wreck the next time you die depending on the specific circumstances of the trip’, I approximated to make the writing smoother. If lack of literalist factist douchebaggery bothers you, you've missed the point, which is, you aren't going to win the fucking lotto so quit wasting your money. Of course, as a literalist, you probably always miss the point in life.


  1. Hey Paul,

    I've got to say that I love your writing style. I can imagine you giving this diatribe perfectly.

    Looking forward to reading more. You, sir, are hilarious.


  2. This was worth the time spent reading it! Which sounds sarcastic but I assure you it's not, and is probably the best compliment I can give. It reminded me of a quote from "Two For the Money." Al Pacino's character says: "Stats are not enough, you need a voice! These are gamblers ready to risk what they can't afford for what they can't have, you're selling the world's rarest commodity: certainty, in an uncertain world." Ok, sportsbetting is close. I don't play the lottery but I've always seen it as selling an individuals own hopes and dreams (however misguided) back to them, $1 at a time.

    Oh and I DEALT a royal flush once in a 5 card stud game. I never get to tell that short, simple story but as a card player you can appreciate it. :)

  3. Fuck you! I'm a Lotto winner.

  4. Playing a multimillion dollar jackpot lottery IS stupid because the jackpot itself does NOT PHYSICALLY exist. Whoever the owner of a supposed "Winning Ticket" WILL NEVER see that money in his or her lifetime (before or after taxes).

  5. Lotto Winners Across America Are Terrified


    You'd think these lotto winners would be THRILLED...

    Instead, they are terrified, because they are starting to draw a lot of unwanted attention from the news officials.

    >>> Their secret to winning could demolish the entire U.S. lotto industry. <<<

    The good news for them is that there's absolutely nothing illegal about how they won the lottery.

    Especially since the method they have been using to do it (which you can see here), is completely honest and ethical.

    I guess these people are just scared because their lives are now so dramatically different thanks to winning the lotto on a regular basis...

    And they don't want the government to make the lottery illegal.

    >>> This winning secret, if leaked, could cause lotto companies to go belly-up. <<<