The Powerball jackpot, $500 million as of Wednesday, is one of the highest amounts ever. Do you ever dream about winning the lottery?
What would you do if you won?
In “The Case for Buying a Powerball Ticket,” Neil Irwin writes:
Financially literate people like to complain that buying lottery tickets is among the silliest decisions a person could make. And it is true that the odds of winning anything substantial, let alone the estimated $500 million that could be given away if there is a winning ticket in the Powerball lottery Wednesday, are very much stacked against you.
There is no doubt that people should not spend money on lottery tickets that they can’t afford to lose. If you have a gambling problem, or are financially destitute, it is a terrible idea. And for anyone to stake his or her financial future on lottery tickets is beyond foolish.
But there are a couple of dimensions that these tut-tutted warnings miss, perhaps fueled by a class divide between those who commonly buy lottery tickets and those who choose to throw away money on other things like expensive wine or mansions. As long as one thinks about the purchase of lottery tickets the right way — again, purely a consumption good, not an investment — it can be a completely rational decision.
And if you’re going to ever think about buying lottery tickets, a moment like this — when the Powerball jackpot has reached remarkable highs — is the best possible time.
The biggest and most generally applicable reason buying lottery tickets is a non-terrible idea is this: It is fun to imagine one’s future after arriving at vast wealth.
Who doesn’t daydream about what sorts of houses and cars and airplanes one would buy with the half-billion-dollar Powerball grand prize? (It’s more like around $340 million in cash value terms; the larger number is if the prize is taken as an annual payment.)
Fantasizing about what you would do if you suddenly encountered great wealth is fun, and it is more fun if there is some chance, however minuscule, that it could happen. The $2 price for a ticket is a relatively small one to pay for the enjoyment of thinking through how you might organize your life differently if you had all those millions.
Students: Read the entire article, then tell us …
— What would you do if you won the lottery?
— How much of the money would you save, spend and give away?
— How do you think your life would change?
— Do you know anyone who plays the lottery regularly? Will you play the lottery when you get older? What do you think of Mr. Irwin’s reasoning, that buying a lottery ticket is usually a terrible financial investment, but that it can be a completely rational decision if you enjoy dreaming of winning?
Questions about issues in the news for students 13 and older.
If ever I get lost in day-dreaming, it is my fervent desire to win the first prize, carrying at least a million rupees, in a lottery. With that much of amount, coming as a windfall, in my wallet, I shall feel on top of the world and would experience a never- before felt joy. With my parents and other members of the family, I shall first proceed to the temple of Tirupati and make generous offering as an act of gratitude.
My next step would be to go into seclusion in order to save myself from visitors. I know that they will come to shower on me their congratulations, but I also understand that they will expect something in return for their felicitations. These newly acquired friends, relatives and well-wishers will yarn stories of their miseries on the pretext of being out of employment; or getting old; or having very lean reserves; or in dire need of costly, urgent medical treatment beyond their reach.
They will entreat me to help them out of their painfully difficult situation from my lottery money. They will impress upon me that the money, which I have come in possession of as a windfall, is due to their good wishes, and so, naturally, I must, at least, pay for their unrewarded toils. Hence their congratulations would imply begging in an indirect way.
Image Source : stefancoburn.com
But having me suffered the pangs of poverty and want for long; I would be too smart and shrewd to be led away by their pleas. If my friends and well-wishers think that I shall host a grand feast in their honour, they will be living in a fool’s paradise.
I know fully well that ‘fools make a feast and wise men eat them’. And so, I’ll never wish to look a fool to others.
The most important ambition of my life, that I would like to fulfill by means of lottery money, is to have a really beautiful bungalow either in Manali, or at the Marina Beach in Mumbai, or near a lake in Udaipur.
Attached to this will be an extensive garden with many mango and apricot trees. There will be rose and jasmine flowers making the surrounding beautiful, eye-catching and fragrant. Within the house, there will be a picture gallery in which copies of the immortal works of great artists of the world, including the Indian painters of the Mughal School, will be hung.
The art of Persia; the icons from Russia; and Chinese pottery will be displayed. I would spend hours and hours standing before them and try to catch the spirit of different artists. I would appreciate them and say:
A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever.
Since I am fond of music, I will hear the celebrated compositions of Mozart and Beethoven early in the morning and late at night. My library will be open to all sincere students of art. But they will not be lent out any volume.
For the helpless and the needy elderly, I would start a charity hospital and home for the aged. Rest of the money will be deposited in a bank. I am sure that the interest earned from this bank deposit will be sufficient enough for me to lead a decent life.