I promise not to brag about my big haul in last month’s Mega Millions jackpot. But I did hit two numbers and the Mega Number. I know this sounds ridiculous but I felt crazy jacked up. For a ten dollar payout!
But where I screwed up is, I have to take my winnings over 26 years.
That’s a piss-poor outcome for somebody who puts as much time and effort as I have into understanding it all.
Now, after consulting with statisticians, chewing over hedge fund algorithms, re-reading “Freakonomics,” and probing the distant edge of artificial intelligence, I’ve arrived at the following insight on the subject:
The odds of taking home any multi-state lottery jackpot are so astronomical, you actually have a better chance of winning if you don’t buy a ticket.
Yet there’s no escape from any of it. We’re constantly getting our asses kicked from one lottery to another. The good genes lottery. The romance lottery. The born-into-wealth lottery. The perfect rack lottery.
We seem to enter them all despite the very long odds.
One lottery I played over an extended period bore results you’d charitably describe as mixed: the Film School lottery. And I’m damned sure I’m not the only player. In fact, this game reaches aspiring writers, actors, directors, producers, and studio executives—in short, everyone west of the Ukraine. What justifies it? The gigantic investor pool and potential jackpot.
If the California State Lottery decided to offer a scratch-off game using this theme, a ticket would display a half-dozen squares with each one containing the logo of an elite film school: UCLA, USC, NYU, COLUMBIA and, you get the idea.
But here’s the mind-blowing part. It costs upwards of $50,000 to buy a ticket—And what’s the payoff if you scratch off a winning square? A couple of screenwriting books.
To be fair, it was an unforgettable decade, and I’m sorry it ended.
The point is, we seem forever to be chasing that big score. The impulse isn’t purely mercenary. Some of us will settle for magic when we stumble into it.
And that leaves us where? I’ve been working with software engineers to create the next family of blockbuster cell phone apps. We’re very close to marketing a Virtual Toupee app.
When we figure out how to keep the mobile device on your head without a chin strap, we’re gonna be rollin’ in some serious bank.