One in 175 million

Okay, I don’t want to hear another word from anybody about how the lottery is just a tax on ignorance and that I have a better chance of being struck by lighting while lying in a ditch holding a tuning fork. WhatEVER.

I bought my Powerball tickets tonight and therefore I have just as good a chance of winning as anybody else who did because you know what every lottery winner in history has in common?

No, it’s not that they’re good (or bad) at math.

They bought a ticket.

I buy one ticket for each of the big three drawings in my state every week, Powerball being one of them, and hope for the best. Because you know, it would be nice to be able to do good things in the world, and money is particularly useful in that regard. The more money you have, the more good you can do. I’d like to do some good where it’s needed most. And of course I have my own selfish reasons for wanting to win the big payday, but don’t we all? My material cravings can be satisfied with a few thousand dollars, though, and then it’s all about doing good things for other people, swearsies!

My friends and family like to tease me about all the time I spend thinking and talking about how much I want to win the lottery, and most of them are gracious enough to humor me when I say “it could happen! This could be the week!” Of course, of course, they say gently, and don’t forget to wave to me when you’re on TV accepting that big check. I always promise I will. Of course.

I’m not dumb. I understand the odds. I also understand that money doesn’t solve every problem or fulfill every need. In fact, too much money can bring as many problems as too little, as every cautionary tale about the failed lives of many past lottery winners attests.

I am not a poor person, and I am extraordinarily fortunate and blessed to have a good solid roof over my head, food in my refrigerator, gas in my car, and a little bit of money in the bank. I don’t have debts apart from my mortgage and I can always pay all my bills on time. I’m not on the financial brink or anywhere close to it. Even so, I live a pretty unadorned life in large part because that’s the life I can afford. Whatever challenges money brings, I like to think about the ones it takes away: Working every day at a boring job for a paycheck that never goes quite far enough. Always having to research every major purchase to find the cheapest option, and then not being able to close the deal because some other unexpected expense came up in the meantime. Living in fear that one of the dogs gets sick or, heaven forbid, I do. Foregoing movies, dinners, trips, concerts, major home repairs, most hobbies, and a thousand different new and cool adventures because there is simply no budget for them.

It would be nice to live without balancing my checkbook to the penny every week, without always having to make hard calls about how much and when money can be spent, and without worrying about being run off the financial rails by a broken water heater, a car that won’t start, or a dog that starts vomiting in the middle of the night. I know I speak for almost everyone when I say that. We all could use a little bigger piece of the pie, a little more room to breathe. This is the dream we all dream, lottery or no lottery.

So I buy my tickets every week because in the lottery, as in life, you can’t win if you don’t play. This could be the week.

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