Lotteries: A Rant From a Poor Person
Lotteries. A rant from a poor person (me).
So I have a MegaMillions ticket. The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 302.6 million against. Right now, the jackpot is $336,000,000.
There are endless think pieces in everything from high-finance magazines to tabloids on why you should not waste your money on lottery tickets, because the odds of winning the jackpot are so astronomically high.
That is then used to bash poor people (like me) who buy lottery tickets. The most charitable slur is “it’s a tax on people who are bad at math.” You’ve probably read far worse slurs against poor people buying lottery tickets when the could do anything from save money (because I can get really rich on saving $15) or invest it (because I can get really rich on investing $15).
Every one of these think pieces are written from the position of “you’re smart not to buy lottery tickets, unlike those benighted fools who do” (with the implication of low intelligence, no education, &c).
No one at Forbes or Bloomberg Billionaire (yes, that exists) or The Economist (on which I spend more money than lotto tickets) ever asks a poor person why we buy lottery tickets.
We know the capitalist system as structured in our nation means we will never be able to “get ahead.” The odds of me becoming a millionaire though my own hard work (never mind discrimination) are horribly bad. Right now there are about 4,900,000 millionaires in the USA (some of whom became that way by winning lottos).
Each week there are two draws for the MegaMillions; the jackpot isn’t the only prize.
The odds of winning one million dollars are 1 in 12,607,000+ against for each draw. The odds of winning ten thousand dollars are 1 in 931,000. $10,000 is about half my income for a year.
$1,000,000 or even $10,000 would be unimaginable riches to many poor people; those odds are better than any poor person has of advancing into the upper middle class.
All the think pieces which come out every couple months about how stupid or foolish poor people are to buy lotto tickets are to assuage those who do not to feel superior. Those pieces are meant to denigrate the poor, for whom a lotto ticket actually provides a better chance of escaping poverty than any sort of so-called meritocracy under capitalism.
Hence I buy lotto tickets. My odds are better, because I’m not bad at math.