Do You Really Want to Win the Powerball?

I’ve never understood the draw of the lottery. Just like I’ve never understood why people love the bright lights and shiny sounds of the slot machine devouring hard earned pennies, nickels, dimes, and dollars.

So, I wonder, do people really want to win the Powerball. In a society with a about 15% of Americans living below the poverty line, and statistically more low income people purchasing Powerball tickets, 1.5 billion is nothing more than lot of zeros of hope growing in living rooms across the country. But, for the average Joe Schmoe, or those living below the poverty line, 1.5 billion is hard to fathom as cold hard cash.

Now, of course, technically, after taxes, if you take the annuity (which you probably won’t because desperate people hoping to win the lottery usually aren’t superb at money management) you’ll gross about a billion dollars over 30 years. Don’t forget about an annual inflation rate often around 2%— that slow growing billion bucks doesn’t look so great anymore, does it?

Regardless of the end sum of money you’ll gross, is it really what you want? You will never be the person you were before you (or your dog) surreptitiously picked the correct numbers. You’ll have friends you never knew you had, and you’ll wish you didn’t. Your family will feel entitled to a share thanks to shared DNA. Sure, you could quit your job and spend the next 30 years on a yacht somewhere, or in a mansion bathing in Evian water, but is that really the American Dream you’re hoping for? The life of leisure will become tiresome, and then you’ll turn to recreational use of perscription drugs in order to either feel something, or make the depression of multi-millionare life go away.

If you don’t go the prescription drug route, and manage to keep some relationship with people who love you for you, not for your money, don’t worry. We’ve already established you’re probably not great at managing your money to begin with, so the funds won’t last long. Spending money you never earned is a lot easier than spending money you did — it’s free after all, so what’s another $100,000 spent for a life of luxury?

Had you been smart, you’d invest it. You’d give back to charities. You’d fund some cool-kid startups and a non-profit or two. You’d live modestly to preserve your winnings for your heirs — rebranding your family name. Never heard of this happening with a lotto winner?

That’s because winning the lottery doesn’t buy a person happiness, it doesn’t buy a person common sense, and it sure as hell doesn’t buy a person the answers to success.

So, maybe you didn’t actually want to play the Powerball, but actually meant to put that $2 into a high interest savings account. I guarantee watching those zeros grow over the next 30 years will be the best decision you’ve ever made.