Some people call it an idiot tax, others call it escapism, but when the lottery hits record pots, it becomes a collective fantasy. Even if you’re not regularly enlisting your dollars to clean up your parks and improve your state, you’ll whip out a twenty or a debit card to purchase those little strings of numbers that, if your prayers come true, will grant you more power than you could have ever possibly imagined. With Powerball raising the price on tickets this year, these euphoric moments happen far more often, highlighted by the massive Mega Millions draw back in March. These moments just can’t come often enough.
It starts out easy enough: you hear about it.
They play the Powerball twice a week and the pots are always too low. Granted, $13-$50 million is still a lot of money, but it’s just not enough money to pull you from your normal routines to buy a ticket. Then you start hearing from the news outlets about how the next drawing is going to break records, or how the following drawing, should no one win this time, will be that record-breaking draw.
The logistics fall into place.
What would you do with $300 million? What would you do with $500 million that you couldn’t do with $300 million? The former is really just the latter after the government takes its share, but the possibilities are still pretty endless. What if you won? Did you sign the back of your slip and fill out the address just in case? Which grocery store or gas station should you buy your tickets from and how much should you invest?
You start fantasizing about it.
First it’s the research. You hear about the other people who won and what you should do. You should get that lawyer, you should hire those financial planners. You even Google the best ones and lock their numbers into your phone so you’ll have them ready. You even save a route to the address on the back of your stub so you can redeem your golden ticket as soon as possible. Even if you win, you won’t get any money for at least two months. You opt to get the lump sum because no one gets the payments over twenty years. That’s stupid.
Wipe out all your debt. Those credit cards, the car payment, the house is yours. No, skip that shack you’re nested in, buy a new one. Build a new one. Get rid of that college loan, that’s been a shackle around your neck long enough.
Quit your day job. Ignore all that advice that says you shouldn’t. You hate your job. If you don’t, it’s not hard to come up with ways. You’ll still need a job, but you can build your own now. You’re a nation builder and job creator now.
Formulate polite ways to tell all those inquiring acquaintances to fuck themselves if they want a hand out. Formulate what to give your parents, they fed you all those years. Or you hate them. Either way.
Splurge. Buy stupid crap. You’ve always dreamt of that Koenigsegg and that 4K TV, go buy them. What do you do now? Buy amusement parks? You should listen to those financial planners you so fortuitously planned on using and invest long-term. Build that studio to develop that dream game that no one else is making. Don’t fuck up.
Expand your mind, think of everything. Ignore the world, you’ll own it soon.
You aren’t going to win. It won’t happen. It’ll take twenty minutes after the drawing before you find the results on the internet. You’ll never know who the winners are and they’ll take pictures and promote their names, but the nation will forget who they are as soon as they don’t win, and it will be everyone. Your odds weren’t any better this time around then last time or any other time, it’s still 1 in 174 million because it’s based on the permutations of the numbers and not how many people played. You were never going to win, but the fantasy felt so real. You wanted it to happen. You believed that having that kind of money, you’d be a positive influence on the world that other people weren’t. Or couldn’t be.
Wait until the next time.