Why Do People Play the Lottery?

in #life6 years ago

Why Do People Play the Lottery?

Insecure people are always actively on the lookout for reasons to look down on others to feel smart about themselves, which is why I find a certain satisfaction in never being able to understand why some people are stupid enough to play the lottery. Granted, on the scale of stupid games, it's probably no where near the far extreme, but it's very expensive to play over the long term and most people know this, so what's the attraction?

Your Chances of Winning

Over 50% of people in the United States regularly play the lottery while approximately 65% have received college education which leads me to believe that at least 15% of people took media studies because they were too thick to get into a real course. (Incidentally if you did take media studies in college: I was just kidding, please upvote my post, I meant people who studied psychology; and vice versa if you took psychology, I'm sure you guys have a phrase for that too).

So what are your actual odds of winning? Well, I wouldn't expect it to be high as I don't think my friends are complimenting me when they say something like 'your chances of getting her number are as good as winning the Powerball jackpot, Traf'. So I looked it up and I was right: Powerball reports its odds of winning the grand prize to be at 1/175,000,000. Holy shit! The likelihood of you winning is probably on par with flushing $15 down the toilet, then going outside, picking a random spot at the local park and digging a hole to find a bag filled with $50 million of drug money; and depending on how shady your neighborhood is you may be more successful doing the latter if you can stomach stumbling upon decomposing bodies from time to time too.

In fact, most lotteries in the United States have a payout rate that's lower than 50% of the funds earned from the ticket sales. In comparison, slot machines are generally required by law to have a payout rate of over 90%, as do most casino games. So you're better off hitting the spinners or craps tables with your kids' college savings instead guys; I mean they'll probably just end up doing media studies or psychology before jumping on welfare anyway.

You know, there's actually no reason to underline the number 69 as it's symmetrical in rotation, there are just some really lonely people out there manufacturing these balls

The Allure of Playing the Lottery

Some people often retort that it's not stupidity that compels them to play the lottery, as they're well aware of the odds (like knowing this would make you less stupid for taking part rather than more), but hope and excitement that comes from the uncertainty of a game of chance.

This does on some level make sense, I must confess. Perhaps I underestimated how riveting watching a bunch of multi-colored balls floating about can be. Maybe some people are so excited about next Saturday's Powerball that they re-watch all previous 59 seasons to get a recap of the plot so far. Hell, I suppose if the balls were delivered a different way, say fired out from a thai dancer, I'd probably be just as glued to the screen.

This makes it look deceptively fun, like a roller coaster at a gay pride parade

Another possible explanation may be that studies have shown that our brains are incapable of actually comprehending infinitesimal odds like 1 in 175 million, you know, much like how seals can't count pass 3 or some shit, and we just focus on the fantasy of winning millions, which, if you're reading this in a few years time, might be enough to buy 3 or 4 bitcoins. So while the probability of success is low, the cost is also minimal and the rewards can be potentially really high - it's basically the same thing that's been motivating me to spend 6 hours a day swiping right non-stop on Tinder.


So what do you think about the lottery? Is it a tax on stupidity or am I being too harsh on something that's just a bit of harmless fun? Hell, have you perhaps won the lottery or know someone who has? Where I'm from, we consider ourselves having won the genetic lottery if we have the right number of chromosomes.

Why The Lottery Is So Seductive
Hey Bill Nye, Is Playing the Lottery Rational?
Breaking down the odds of winning Powerball's $700M jackpot

Images 1,2

*If you enjoyed this piece, please Upvote, Resteem and follow me @trafalgar.

There are 3 pages

For me I believe people play lotto though it's like 1 is to 5,000,000, chancesof winning is the thought that if they win they will definitely an instant millionaire. And there is a sense of happiness that a person feels, which gives them a positive feeling that you'll really win. This gives hope.

I know of one who won the jackpot. But still the chances of winning is very low. So since we have Steemit and Bitcoin migth as well invest here!

Thank you for sharing this @trafalgar ! Resteemed!

winning jackpot is what i have if am to have a good X-mass this year

The answer to the question can probably be found in what happens to most people that have WON the lottery. It's a mind-numbingly high number of winners who are in poverty within just 5 years of winning the lottery. It's safe to say, I'd think, that people who are irresponsible enough to gamble away their hard earned dolla dolla bills every week, are the same kind that would blow through a few cool mil in like...5 years.

To me, finding a man my age that is intelligent but didn't major in liberal arts is akin to winning the lottery. The odds are probably about the same though.

Runs out to buy Powerball ticket

it's definitely weird
it's like they win the lottery and then go short bitcoin the very next day

best of luck with finding a man

Oh I'm married to one...with a liberal arts degree.

Playing the lottery is far worse than just a tax on stupid.

What the lottery people never show you is that all the winners (there may be one that is not) are broker, unhappier, and fatter then before they won.

The biggest problem is that money does not fix your life.
Money does not make one rich.

So, if you have a dream of owning a restaurant, go for it. Get hired as a manager of something similar. Learn accounting. Retrain your mind to think in terms of cash flow. This leads to success.

Playing the lottery, is just trying to distract yourself from all your bills, for a moment. The hope of getting out of the rut that you call your life.

It is a costly distraction. Just like television. It does not lead to any happiness, or dream fulfilment. And, if you are very, very unlucky, you may get to find out that money does not fix your problems.

This is very true, I ran into some of these stats when I was researching for this piece
great advice

Generally though, people who are attracted to playing the lottery have a mentality that prevents them from knowing how to sensibly use and invest their rewards if they do win


People think they're lucky to win. Dreamers!

life is a chance game

Money does fix your life. Try living on borderline poverty and you'll see why. I ate oatmeal with warm water because I couldn't afford milk. Personally I'd invest most of my lottery money, since I'm already used to be low maintainance and pretty much Spartan.

Yep, have that $29 a week grocery thing beat too.

But, time after time after time, it is shown that giving a man on the street a lot of money, will result in them being still out on the street.

Here is the thing broken down.

A middle class broke person will usually pick themselves back up, and can totally use some money to give them a leg up.

A poor broke person will blow any money given to them, and be just as broke. Or they will be worse off. If you have a heroin addiction, being broke keeps you alive.

Give trump a small loan of a million dollars, and he will make a fortune.
Give the average middle class person a loan of a million dollars, and it will just leak through their finger tips.
Basically, you have to find an entrepreneur who has already worked out cash flow, who is at the point where he only needs an infusion of cash. And then, that person can become rich.

To become rich, you do not need any money.
And, money does not make one rich.

Btw most lotto winners burn their winnings in a Very short time.

Yep! And most gain weight.

This was an awesome post. Made me laugh several times. And I totally agree with you, it takes a certain level of stupidity to play the lottery consistently.

I mean I've bought scratch off tickets before on a regular basis but that was just because I was trying to get with the girl that worked at the gas station where the tickets were sold.

But as far as playing the Powerball or anything like that it's just insanity. Dreamers with more money than sense play the lottery.

haha, you're not alone there
which guy hasn't bought dumber shit than some scratchies to impress a girl?

Though it is definitely a "voluntary tax", ignorance being a large part of what may be called stupidity in some cases, the allure of the thrill of possibly winning seems to take the dreamers over and, eventually, its addicts living in a realm of unfulfilled desires.

Great job, again, @trafalgar! Namaste :)

haha thanks, glad you enjoyed it

life is just a chance

The reason people play the lottery is everyone wants to go to that promise land, which always seems so close (in proximity, at least), but so very far.

Most people in this world are starving. The ones who are “better off” are in debt or living paycheck to paycheck. This is how the power structures of the world want things to be, and they’re happy to host lotteries every few days to get us to keep our heads down, not question, and hope for a better tomorrow.

It’s important that we not criticize each other for being ‘stupid’. We the people have the power to flourish, if only we realized that. It’s up to you and me to talk to our friends and family, and to get us there.

Something tells me we’re getting close.

that's fair enough, I was mostly being facetious
I think it's not so much that lotteries are a grand conspiracy to keep us quiet as more of an open way to tax people that are less well off which is annoying to me

Well, I’d say it’s both. Two birds, right! I think most people who play inherently know the odds, but do feel trapped and use it as desperation/hope. And I can empathize with why they do.

I understood your facetiousness, and your article was well written and I should have included that in my original comment. I just had another perspective to add!

HA! because people are broke and in debt! Every one of my factory worker buys a lotto ticket. It's not because they are not paid well, although I think if they won I would get the big middle finger anyways ;)

haha sounds like you're a great boss

I’m pretty fair, I just think it’s a “workers” dream to put up the finger and say I’m outta here to the boss :)

I just wanted to add I love your sense of humor. Slightly sarcastic, slightly random but still very clever. I wish I could write that well. As to the subject matter, I see buying a lotto as a flight of fancy and okay is small doses, but it really doesn’t make sense if you do the math.

thanks a lot, not that many of us writing comedy on here
i wish it'd take off more on the platform

Could you suggest any other accounts on Steemit that have good comedic content?

The best irony is - many people believe that given too many lottery tickets they will win.

But they shy away to try again in life where they might win sooner.

P.S. I bought a ticket once and got nothing. That was probably the last time I bought a lottery ticket.

haha, wise that you learn your lesson so quickly
basically the maths does not go your way when it comes to winning the lottery

there was once won the jackpot and then after 6months he went back to poor again.. I guess he is the most stupid person who won the jackpot. He spent all of his money in celebrating every day and giving money to his relatives. now he is a utility worker.

A think alot of people who win make this mistake
ppl who are play the lottery just aren't great at looking after their money generally speaking

I buy about 4 lottery tickets per year. I have asked people why they play the lottery. Some have dreams of grandeur, some do it for fun and some are addicted. I know people who have an entertainment budget and they figure in the cost of lottery tickets. I think if people can manage the gambling, go for it! Other forms of entertainment include going out for dinner, movies, recreation, technology... etc. The most important thing to me is time; relative to the amount of time I spend on blogs for Steemit. I am a minnow, struggling to get noticed and get votes... it's kind of like the lottery... it's just what I chose to invest in. :)

haha well you just won 86c

😛😛😛😛😛✌✌✌✌ @trafalgar

Putting that way, I'll have to agree! But... still think we chose the smartest one hahhaah

whenever my coworker has a bad day at work she buys lots of lotto tickets, hard to try and explain to them why it is not a good financial decision when they are already in a bad mood, I just say good luck!

haha it's really a tax on people who can least afford it

Lol at golf being a stupid game and that awesome handwriting.

Lotteries are really popular with the lower income group based on my personal observation, and I guess odds don't matter if they have the mentality that "they'll win this time".

thanks for complimenting my cursive penmanship :p
and yeah, golf sucks

@trafalgar - a very sensible post. never knew that 50% of Americans played the online lottery - that's surprising.

I've spent my money on many things - MLM marketing, stocks, F&O and cyrptocurrency, but lotteries are something I'd never put a cent in because the odds of winning anything there is way way too slim like you pointed out - I remember myself in school working out the odds of a lottery in a math problem and the solution convinced me that that's something I'd never put money in - that was over 20 years ago and I never did.

Thanks for the post! I do hope people would stop frittering away their money with undue expectations from lotteries.. Even if they do win, it's a one time thing - learning how to make money is far more important than winning a super lotto....

haha you made a very sensible decision
shouldn't exactly be a very difficult one though
most people don't go rushing to play russian roulette

@trafalgar have you heard of the curse of winning the lottery?

i have not, unless you mean most people go broke afterwards

Worse, murder and deaths...yuup pretty sad. Quick question, have you heard of the new 7 wonders of the world... I just came home from one and blogged about it hehehe. Let me know what you think :)

I've known people who have won 1 Million Rupees in lottery and have gone bankrupt after spending all the lottery money in a couple of years. Winning easy money doesn't guarantee that it'll keep us rich unless we've got enough brains to invest it in the right places.

yes, a staggering number go broke after a while,
I guess people who play it generally aren't the best with their money

Those are some crazy odds. Can't win if you don't play though. I wonder what the odds of winning are if you don't even purchase a ticket. You just wake up one day smothered in cash and hookers. I can't see that happening any time soon. That 1/175,000,000 doesn't sound so bad now!

it's probably about the same as if the system malfunctioned and they called out a name who's not bought a ticket
1 in 175 million is lower than being hit by a meteor square on the head

Well, Earth is something like 1 in 700 quintillion, yet it still happened. I suppose we're all born winners and shouldn't push our luck. I stopped playing the lottery years ago. I'll take what I can get.

Playing lottery is an excitement, however, I never believed it and never tried to participate in it. The excitement is the prize that they expect from the lottery even the chance of winning is very low. They play because some of them have become successful in winning the lottery prize.

ya it's strange that we're attracted to uncertainty and most of us aren't great with probability

Usually I would agree with the stupidity of the game, but over the years and personally knowing 3 people who have won the lottery, I can't help but wonder if these people are on to something. They spend very little each week. At the end of the day, you can't complain about not winning the lotto if you don't try. Stupidity would be blowing your salary on lotto tickets.

you must have some really lucky friends, those are quite some odds
I'm guessing you don't mean the jackpot, and statistically that's like saying I have 3 friends who all died due to a meteor falling on them

Lottery is a self imposed tax. The Governments love them. Usually low income and low educated get suckered into playing them. Yes, better odds of getting struck by lightning twice than winning. I wrote an article about buying Litecoin is a for sure winner versus buying a lottery ticket.

it's really sort of cruel to tax the people who can't afford it the most

With cryptocurrencies what they are now, I feel like I'm playing the lottery with some altcoins. Even a small investment can turn into a sizeable return. My friends won about $10k from a scratch-off and my neighbor won about $60k from a quick-pick. It isn't impossible to win, but I certainly haven't won anything like that.

oh definitely, though in shitcoins the odds are way better
in the lottery the game is rigged really hard against you

I have known some that won a few thousand dollars. But in the end I think the amount they spent on playing far exceeds that ! It adds up quickly.

I would suggest to play the crypto market instead. I read somewhere that the average return on ICOs has been 12x the money . Now those odds look more favorable haha

haha that's depressing, I'm doing considerably worse than just randomly chasing ICOs :(

I often use lottery tickets.
However, only using very little money.
It is pleasant while holding a lottery.
I am satisfied with it.

i think it can just be a bit of fun from time to time
but can be problematic when you go beyond that

Dude @trafalgar just thanks mate. I thought it was only me who things lottery is one of the most uselles things on this life.

In my family, we never played it. I mean my mom usually ( from time to time , used to say: "Hey, what if we get a ticket" ) but man, i know how this games works, and evry time my mom sayd that i told her what i really think about lottery.

Anyways man, feels bad cause i know a lot of people, more than i can think atm likes to trust in "luck" and throw their money into the toilet trying to get an easy way to be rich.

Good post mate, as always, wtih ur kind of humor and all that things that makes me reads you.

yes, lotteries are basically open scams that unfortunately work

@trafalgar, Thank you very much for discussing great title. I think this is very cruel and terrible way to search easily money. I told you terrible bcoz Lottery would be addict. My parents every day buying lotteries and night time wasted time more for see result from television. After unsuccessful result they was worried. But another day doing same thing.
Impossible and one of the worst way money seek as i think.
I only believe my education level and my job in our company. I can spend time to work hard I can be rich. I never go to lotteries backward.
Followed/ Resteemed.

it's very unfortunate to hear that about you
but you definitely have the right attitude

Great article to post here. I find it is because they have no conviction or belief they can do it any other way. It is a dismal way of achieving financial wealth, income or whatever.

yes, I guess in a way it gives hope to people who otherwise feel hopeless, which is a bit sad really
as they're paying a tax when they can least afford to

I agree. I think it's money down the drain! I have not bought any kind of lottery ticket in many years, and have no plans to buy one now. I can't see the thrill of spending money with those kinds of odds of winning!

yes, if only everyone saw it this way
basically throwing away half your money every time

Here's the deal- One dollar for 15 minutes of fantasy entertainment is worth more than the price of a movie ticket nowadays.

true, but the hookers around my place generally charge more

A guy believed he had better chance to be wealthy investing in bitxoin instead of powerball years ago. The bitcoin did surge 100x since that.

But he lost the private key

Chance and lucky bit on lottery, in philippines over 80% of Filipino's played lottery. The lucky person will take home the money.. :)

damn that's really high! 80% is pretty insane

Indeed, Filipino is one of the most influencial at lottery.. They don't that someday they will realize a thousands fold of money from their pocket burned.

Lottery is a tax on the poor. It is quite ironic that the private entities offering essentially lottery service are prosecuted as operating a Ponzi or racketeering by the same government that conducts such operation on a mass scale.

yes, it's a shame that the people who play them the most are also the ones that generally are least able to afford paying for this tax

People have a risk-reward calculation that's irrational. $1 or $10 is not that much to spend for that hope of a chance, however insane it seems. It's the same reason Randowhale worked well on here for awhile, despite being somewhat expensive; it gave people a chance for something more. The gamification and hope can be written off as entertainment.

its true, we just zoom in on the prospects of winning and lose sight of the larger odds that are against us and stack to quite a sum over time

At least it’s not as addictive as Steemit is:

I think that, on some level, humans are hard-wired as gamblers. We take all kinds of crazy risks. I bet I can outrun that saber-tooth tiger better than you can! The winner gets to go into the bushes with your wife!

haha yes, you're talking to an asian, i know what being a hard wired gambler means
sorry to hear that a saber tooth tiger got into the bushes with your wife

where is X-Box? :D LOL

I think these people just want to dream big!

@trafalgar - I think people understand that the chances of winning are very slim (the way you described it - digging a hole and finding drug money/ decomposing bodies etc. LOL). However, who can resist bouncing balls, underlined number 69 and the skimpily clad hot gals that stand there smiling and pointing to the spinning balls, as you lose your kids college education money... I think that is what the magic is about lottery that draws 50% of the population towards it like a siren song. LOL

Thanks - as usual, the quirky way in which you present your logic really gets me in splits. Upvoted



I rather play steem.. wake up every day to check if @trafalgar gave me an 100% upvote on my posts...small chance but bigger then with a lottery.

I have burnt over $15k over 2 year period on lottery,sports betting man. Hell i didnt know about crypto then!

Hey Trafalgar,

Consider this:

If "stupid people" have low ability to pass the marshmallow-test, it means they are unable to save money for the future in a regular way, however, if they play the lottery then they are doing something like an inverse insurance that gives them an occasional financial boost comparable to saving money for the future.

By taking into consideration the context, what looks stupid can be seen to follow a rather intelligent strategy, e.g. given the context that you are unable to think reasonable thoughts yourself, it would be an intelligent move to ask an authority figure.



Or - If "stupid people" have low ability to spend their money in a smart way (since they can't accurately estimate which products have the best price/quality ratio), by losing money on lottery they are actually transferring their wealth to smarter people, who will probably spend that wealth in a more optimal way. Thus, they are actually making a personal sacrifice as part of a grand strategy to allow the society to spend its wealth in a more optimal way.

Heh, either way, the "stupid" people are transferring their money to the wealthy. Either the "stupd" people squander the money or give it to the state, which collects billions annually. Money follows knowledge.

i just found out from steeMVP that you are the one showing me all the love here on steemit. thanks man i really appreciate the help brother.

lol. You are funny. Rather than a serious interrogation of why people play lotto this was instead a completely self-indulgent rollick in sarcasm, which was ten times more amusing than a comprehensive analysis!

I have one question, on the stupid games scale which is the top of the scale? Chess and boxing or golf?? It would be obvious except for the insertion of Russian roulette between the lottery and golf. ALthough, if there was a large money prize at stake in the Russian roulette I guess you've at least got a better chance of winning it than the lotto!!!

By the way, in honour of my gran who played every week and thoroughly enjoyed dreaming about buying a yacht, I play the lotto once a year and think of her.


Lotteries always trust some people and they buy every-day lotteries. I think trust peoples will win and received more money. All of know money not a life. Lottery jackpot won persons being unfortunate persons maybe. If have money peoples spend money for unsuccessful tasks like as sexiest, drinking habits and non-important vehicles. I have heard little bit persons only lucky winners.
Lottery like as a internet and television also. Attraction method has here. But I think If you want to be rich try to earn happiness, education, love, relationships and money. I know life can't go further without money. We all here it steem platform for money. But trying to be genius person with happiness, smiling. Its helpful for growing life.
Must learn our like field and then can earn money from that field. Thank you for great topic @trafalgar

@trafalgar, people play lottery because there is no particular individual that is designated to win it.
Though the chances of winning is 1/5,000,0000, they still try their luck hoping to be the one whose luck is going to change

I have a very bad gambling addiction I am thankful I have steemit to back me up when I rage bed.
Honestly I think people play for that one in a trillion chance to win...
Anyways nice post really got my head going

thank you, glad you enjoyed it

I Uganda we have no jobs what we have to do is to play lotto to get what to eat so lotto is only stuped when you have what to do

Yes, you got the point! Money is one of the factors of wealth. The one who owns money may not be rich. wealth is in our mind, not our bank account.

I understand that to some extended it does involve your intellect and how you perceive statistics but I also firmly believe that the strategic placement of lottery tickets increase their success. Personally, in the all the areas I've lived (all poverty stricken areas), sometimes it is easier to get a lottery ticket than a hot meal. Poverty is pushed into the masses for the benefit of the rich.

There are 3 pages