Friday, December 20, 2013

How to Win the Lottery Every Time

I used to play the lottery.

It wasn't so much for the prospect of winning.  It was for the daydreams.  You'd chunk down a buck for a ticket, and then you'd get one or two days of wild flights of fantasy.  Every thing wrong with the house, suddenly repaired.  A new car!  The opportunity to give and make a difference through your philanthropic generosity, all of which you coordinate from your vast custom-built dirigible-yacht.

But I stopped playing years ago, after I bothered to look at the souls who stood in line with me.  Could they spare the thirty bucks, the fifty bucks, that they chunked down every week out of their hunger for a hope that reality wasn't giving them?  No, they couldn't, and I didn't want to participate in a system that was really little more than a tax on the desperate and the poor.

Here's the thing, though.  Oh, I know, they say "You Gotta Be In It To Win It."

But there's a little secret.  You don't.  Not technically, not given the wild probabilities now involved.

You see, for those huge winnings, you also have astronomical odds.  They've been ramping those odds up a bit recently, to drive the jackpot higher.  That stirs more buzz, which sells more lottery tickets to hopeless, luckless dreamers just looking for a hit of fantasy.

If I understand the probability correctly, you are more likely to be electrocuted by a shark that is biting you whilst simultaneously being struck by lightning than you are to win the Powerball or the Mega Millions.

Which leads me, at least, to a rather logical conclusion.  With odds now standing at 258,000,000 to one, it's basically like saying, there's a near zero chance.  Most of what I got out of the lottery were the daydreams anyway, so here's what I think to myself.

There is also a chance, radically unlikely, but nonetheless not impossible in the vast probabilistic scheme of God's multiversal creation, that someone out there will buy a lottery ticket.  They will then pick a name at random, and mail that lottery ticket to me.

That ticket will arrive in the mail shortly after the lottery winner is announced.  And hey, presto, I've won the lottery.

Of course, this is astronomically unlikely.  It would not happen in a hundred lifetimes.  Not a thousand. Or a million.  But then again, neither would winning the more prosaic way.

But this way, I get my lottery daydreams, and I don't have to spend a penny.

Because dreams are free, kids.  Dreams are free.