Lotto Redux

I’ve got the fever, and the only prescription is more cow bell.  No wait, that’s not right.  That’s from an old SNL sketch.  Actually, all I need to cure what ails me is six winning numbers worth $640 million (and growing).

Based on my blogging, one might think I am a serial lotto player.  Not true, actually.  But the last few drawings have been so huge, and I would really love to shake things up in my life… so I am courageously volunteering to test the hypothesis that enormous wealth doesn’t buy happiness.  This could take a while, so you can thank me later.

I now have 12 lottery numbers for tonight’s drawing on my person.  No real logic behind buying that many.  It was really driven by the amount of cash I had in my wallet ($12). 

As I have mentioned, I find people’s behaviors and rituals when buying lotto tickets pretty amusing.  Some folks have a standard number they always play, and despite being a quick picks person, I can understand that.  It’s a REAL no-brainer for anyone with five kids and a spouse — they use birthdays.  The added benefit of this system is, if your husband plays twice a week for years he can’t ever say he forgot to buy you a birthday gift.

I chuckle that stores that have sold winning tickets in the past have longer lines outside, when the jackpot is massive.  I bumped into a colleague this morning as I was leaving a bodega with tickets in my hand.  She pointed out that a few of her work friends bought their tickets there too, because it has sold winners before. Not sure I am on board with this theory, but who am I to judge since I am not a lotto winner?  Yet.

I also shouldn’t judge, because I have my own lotto superstition.  If I’m going all-in with the lottery, and buying more than one ticket, I don’t want to buy them all at the same store. This time I bought two tickets at a newsstand on Polk Street, five at a Seven-Eleven and five at the bodega near work.

I know this is completely illogical, and violates every probability law on the books.  I guess it just feels like I have more entries – and so, a greater chance of winning — because I have three tickets in my eager little fist, rather than one.  Makes sense, right?  

Now, there’s nothing left to do but wait.  And dream.  Last Friday I bought two tickets, and didn’t have even one correct number.  But I am an optimist at heart.  BRING IT!

(Lotto) Fever Pitch

This evening I picked up the latest ESPN Magazine, featuring Timmy Lincecum — and some other guy — on the cover.  It’s suitable for framing, so colleagues should expect to see it proudly displayed on my desk next week.

I felt a bit giddy afterward, and a little lucky too, so I did something unusual.  I bought TWO lotto tickets.  I often forget to play the lotto at all, and when I remember I usually only buy one ticket.  But tonight I wanted to double my odds…

Early in my career, I worked in the institutional retirement division of a large financial services company.   While there, I stumbled across a survey suggesting that around 3% of working Americans are relying on the lottery for retirement income in their golden years.   It wasn’t a joke.  That 3% was serious, and seriously deluded.

The guy in front of me at the newsstand tonight was apparently among the deluded.  He did not waste his money on magazines with cover photos of eye candy.  He bought 40 — that’s 4-0 — lotto tickets.   The funniest part was, the clerk thought he wanted four tickets, and asked for $4.  The customer looked at him like he was completely nuts.

He responded, “No man, I said 40 tickets.”   But his incredulous expression said, “Do the MATH dude!  There’s no WAY I could win with only four tickets!  I play for keeps so LET’S DO THIS.”

I reassured myself that buying 40 lottery tickets is a pretty bad financial plan.  I contribute to a 401(k) because I am responsible and I live in the real world.  But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming of what I’d do if I ever won the lottery, every time I play.

In case you are wondering, I would take the lump sum payment.

I would:

  1. Pay a lot of taxes.
  2. Quit my job.  (If you are wearing your surprised face right now, get over it.  Your boss can’t see you, you suck up.  You’d do the same thing!)
  3. Stalk homeowners on Liberty Street in San Francisco until one of them agreed to sell his house to me.
  4. Three words: Buy Season Tickets… in the Giants dugout AND on the team plane!
  5. Fund a memorial bench in Princess Street Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  6. Purchase a decent golf swing.  (Is that possible?)
  7. Make donations to my alma maters.  You know who you are.
  8. Give huge wads of cash to my parents… although I still doubt it’d erase my debt.
  9. Alert Planned Parenthood.  BIG check coming their way!
  10. Buy a pug puppy, and take him with me all over the world.

I’ll check the lottery numbers tonight, but I fear I have jinxed my chances of winning with all this blogging.  Which means it’s back to work on Monday. The Giants and pug puppy will have to wait.