Big Lottery, Small Chances

No matter how big the jackpot, the odds stay the same

Mar 30, 2012 | WRITTEN BY CHRIS RUSSELL

It's jaw-dropping what the Mega Millions Lottery jackpot has grown to—$656 million.

It's even more jaw-dropping when you consider the odds of winning it—one in 176 million.

Things have no doubt reached a fever pitch around Mega Millions. Whoever wins will claim the biggest US lottery jackpot prize in history. Some people will buy two tickets, others will buy 20. They get caught up in the "think of what you can do" euphoria. Some people go so far as to say they have a strategy that will pay off for them sooner or later.

Hear Dave's latest rant about the Mega Millions lottery here!

When it's all said and done, there will be approximately 175,999,999 broken hearts. But those same people will buy more tickets and let themselves fall into the trap again and again, month after month, year after year, because they are chasing something that they shouldn't get all at once. Along the way, they will destroy their ability to grow wealthy on their own through investing.

What those people don't realize is that if they take even $30 a month that they would have spent on the lotto and invest it instead, they will have $1,171,750 in 50 years. That happens every time!

The person who wins runs the risk of being the next in a long line of lottery winners who lose it all and end up in trouble with their families, the IRS and even creditors because they have no discipline with the money.

We're not trying to be negative. We are being realistic. Any kind of lottery has absurdly long odds. When you discover that and start building wealth through hard work and patience, the only time your jaw will drop will be when you see how stupid others are being for buying lotto tickets.

Reader Comments (30)

Life has long odds, and people get hit by lightening all the time. Buying lotto tickets may be stupid, but so is believing that anything else you do in life matters.
Member at 10:00 AM, March 30 2012
My dad ALWAYS said when asked to buy a lottery ticket..."No thanks, I already give the government ENOUGH money!"
Member at 10:00 AM, March 30 2012
I only buy a ticket when it gets super high - maybe once a year, if that. Even winning on a smaller match can be a good payout if you are lucky enough to win. If not, oh well. Not like I play the lottery every week.
Member at 3:08 PM, March 30 2012
Personally, the thought of winning the lottery is terrifying. With the debt issues my wife and I have due to our behaviors, and our rampant tendency to impulse spend, it kind of feels like winning a lotto for us would be like putting a loaded gun into the hands of a toddler. I just do not trust our ability to effectively manage that kind of money at this point.
Member at 3:33 PM, March 30 2012
Generally i agree and don't play lotto. But i figured i would take a swing this time. I know my $5 would probably be $500 in 50 years, but i am okay with that opportunity cost vs. reward.
Member at 4:11 PM, March 30 2012
The office lotto pool asked if I wanted in. My response was "why, did the odds of winning suddenly change?"
Member at 8:14 PM, March 30 2012
Yes I bought a lotto ticket first time in a while. I come from a family of "lottoholics" so that is why I do not play that often. I have personally seen how the lottery and gambling can destroy families. So the statement "play responsibility" hits home. I did buy a ticket this time just because it was so high. I could do a lot with that money like pay off debt, and build a subdivision which would keep paying me years to come. So Dave I am not one of those uneducated people who buy lotto tickets. Although I generally agree with what u r saying. Lol lol
Member at 12:35 PM, March 31 2012
Blow money can be spent on whatever one chooses, right? ;-)
Member at 6:42 AM, April 01 2012
WHEN I WAS ABOUT 11 YEARS OLD AND EARNED MY OWN MONEY WORKING HARD OUR PARISH HAD AN ANNUAL FUND RAISER AND THAT YEAR 1949 THE PRIZE WAS A BEAUTFUL SCHWIN BIKE WITH WHITEWALL TIRES. I WANTED THAT BIKE VERY, VERY, VERY, MUCH SO I BOUGHT A BUNCH OF LOTTERY TICKETS AND WAS SURE I WOULD WIN. I OF COURSE WAS WRONG ABOUT THAT. I WAS THE "POOR PEOPLE" THAT PAID THE "STUPID TAX"! I DON'T DO THAT ANY MORE. I AM AGAINST THAT WHOLE IDEA OF A CHURCH, SYNAGOGUE, MASK, TEMPLE OR THE GOVERNMENT AT ANY LEVEL STEALING MONEY FROM THE POOR PEOPLE OR CHILDREN IN THIS MANNER. I AM ESPECIALLY AGAINST GOD'S ORGANIZATIONS TEACHING PEOPLE TO GAMBLE. ESPECIALLY TEACHING CHILDREN TO GAMBLE. I DO NOT THINK THAT ADULTS SHOULD TEACH THEIR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE OR TO TEACH THAT IT IS OK TO DO SO. THE IRS DOES NOT ALLOW A DEDUCTION FOR THIS TAX FOR A REASON. SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE IS ACTUALLY A BETTER TAX TO PAY THAN THE GAMBLING TAX. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE AND ONE OF THEM WILL BECOME ADDICTED TO GAMBLING AND POSSIBLY OTHER THINGS AS WELL. BETTER TO GIVE THE MONEY TO YOUR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT. HAS ANYONE EVER PURCHASED A TICKET IN THE NAME OF THEIR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT? WINNING WOULD BE THE SUPREME TEST. DO PEOPLE TITHE ON THE LOTTERY WINNINGS? ENOUGH OF TAXING THE POOR PEOPLE TO SEND PEOPLE WHO ARE BETTER OFF KIDS TO COLLEGE! MGR1949!
Member at 7:18 AM, April 01 2012
WHEN I WAS ABOUT 11 YEARS OLD AND EARNED MY OWN MONEY WORKING HARD OUR PARISH HAD AN ANNUAL FUND RAISER AND THAT YEAR 1949 THE PRIZE WAS A BEAUTFUL SCHWIN BIKE WITH WHITEWALL TIRES. I WANTED THAT BIKE VERY, VERY, VERY, MUCH SO I BOUGHT A BUNCH OF LOTTERY TICKETS AND WAS SURE I WOULD WIN. I OF COURSE WAS WRONG ABOUT THAT. I WAS THE "POOR PEOPLE" THAT PAID THE "STUPID TAX"! I DON'T DO THAT ANY MORE. I AM AGAINST THAT WHOLE IDEA OF A CHURCH, SYNAGOGUE, MASK, TEMPLE OR THE GOVERNMENT AT ANY LEVEL STEALING MONEY FROM THE POOR PEOPLE OR CHILDREN IN THIS MANNER. I AM ESPECIALLY AGAINST GOD'S ORGANIZATIONS TEACHING PEOPLE TO GAMBLE. ESPECIALLY TEACHING CHILDREN TO GAMBLE. I DO NOT THINK THAT ADULTS SHOULD TEACH THEIR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE OR TO TEACH THAT IT IS OK TO DO SO. THE IRS DOES NOT ALLOW A DEDUCTION FOR THIS TAX FOR A REASON. SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE IS ACTUALLY A BETTER TAX TO PAY THAN THE GAMBLING TAX. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE AND ONE OF THEM WILL BECOME ADDICTED TO GAMBLING AND POSSIBLY OTHER THINGS AS WELL. BETTER TO GIVE THE MONEY TO YOUR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT. HAS ANYONE EVER PURCHASED A TICKET IN THE NAME OF THEIR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT? WINNING WOULD BE THE SUPREME TEST. DO PEOPLE TITHE ON THE LOTTERY WINNINGS? ENOUGH OF TAXING THE POOR PEOPLE TO SEND PEOPLE WHO ARE BETTER OFF KIDS TO COLLEGE! MGR1949!
Member at 7:18 AM, April 01 2012
WHEN I WAS ABOUT 11 YEARS OLD AND EARNED MY OWN MONEY WORKING HARD OUR PARISH HAD AN ANNUAL FUND RAISER AND THAT YEAR 1949 THE PRIZE WAS A BEAUTFUL SCHWIN BIKE WITH WHITEWALL TIRES. I WANTED THAT BIKE VERY, VERY, VERY, MUCH SO I BOUGHT A BUNCH OF LOTTERY TICKETS AND WAS SURE I WOULD WIN. I OF COURSE WAS WRONG ABOUT THAT. I WAS THE "POOR PEOPLE" THAT PAID THE "STUPID TAX"! I DON'T DO THAT ANY MORE. I AM AGAINST THAT WHOLE IDEA OF A CHURCH, SYNAGOGUE, MASK, TEMPLE OR THE GOVERNMENT AT ANY LEVEL STEALING MONEY FROM THE POOR PEOPLE OR CHILDREN IN THIS MANNER. I AM ESPECIALLY AGAINST GOD'S ORGANIZATIONS TEACHING PEOPLE TO GAMBLE. ESPECIALLY TEACHING CHILDREN TO GAMBLE. I DO NOT THINK THAT ADULTS SHOULD TEACH THEIR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE OR TO TEACH THAT IT IS OK TO DO SO. THE IRS DOES NOT ALLOW A DEDUCTION FOR THIS TAX FOR A REASON. SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE IS ACTUALLY A BETTER TAX TO PAY THAN THE GAMBLING TAX. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE AND ONE OF THEM WILL BECOME ADDICTED TO GAMBLING AND POSSIBLY OTHER THINGS AS WELL. BETTER TO GIVE THE MONEY TO YOUR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT. HAS ANYONE EVER PURCHASED A TICKET IN THE NAME OF THEIR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT? WINNING WOULD BE THE SUPREME TEST. DO PEOPLE TITHE ON THE LOTTERY WINNINGS? ENOUGH OF TAXING THE POOR PEOPLE TO SEND PEOPLE WHO ARE BETTER OFF KIDS TO COLLEGE! MGR1949!
Member at 7:18 AM, April 01 2012
WHEN I WAS ABOUT 11 YEARS OLD AND EARNED MY OWN MONEY WORKING HARD OUR PARISH HAD AN ANNUAL FUND RAISER AND THAT YEAR 1949 THE PRIZE WAS A BEAUTFUL SCHWIN BIKE WITH WHITEWALL TIRES. I WANTED THAT BIKE VERY, VERY, VERY, MUCH SO I BOUGHT A BUNCH OF LOTTERY TICKETS AND WAS SURE I WOULD WIN. I OF COURSE WAS WRONG ABOUT THAT. I WAS THE "POOR PEOPLE" THAT PAID THE "STUPID TAX"! I DON'T DO THAT ANY MORE. I AM AGAINST THAT WHOLE IDEA OF A CHURCH, SYNAGOGUE, MASK, TEMPLE OR THE GOVERNMENT AT ANY LEVEL STEALING MONEY FROM THE POOR PEOPLE OR CHILDREN IN THIS MANNER. I AM ESPECIALLY AGAINST GOD'S ORGANIZATIONS TEACHING PEOPLE TO GAMBLE. ESPECIALLY TEACHING CHILDREN TO GAMBLE. I DO NOT THINK THAT ADULTS SHOULD TEACH THEIR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE OR TO TEACH THAT IT IS OK TO DO SO. THE IRS DOES NOT ALLOW A DEDUCTION FOR THIS TAX FOR A REASON. SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE IS ACTUALLY A BETTER TAX TO PAY THAN THE GAMBLING TAX. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE AND ONE OF THEM WILL BECOME ADDICTED TO GAMBLING AND POSSIBLY OTHER THINGS AS WELL. BETTER TO GIVE THE MONEY TO YOUR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT. HAS ANYONE EVER PURCHASED A TICKET IN THE NAME OF THEIR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT? WINNING WOULD BE THE SUPREME TEST. DO PEOPLE TITHE ON THE LOTTERY WINNINGS? ENOUGH OF TAXING THE POOR PEOPLE TO SEND PEOPLE WHO ARE BETTER OFF KIDS TO COLLEGE! MGR1949!
Member at 7:18 AM, April 01 2012
WHEN I WAS ABOUT 11 YEARS OLD AND EARNED MY OWN MONEY WORKING HARD OUR PARISH HAD AN ANNUAL FUND RAISER AND THAT YEAR 1949 THE PRIZE WAS A BEAUTFUL SCHWIN BIKE WITH WHITEWALL TIRES. I WANTED THAT BIKE VERY, VERY, VERY, MUCH SO I BOUGHT A BUNCH OF LOTTERY TICKETS AND WAS SURE I WOULD WIN. I OF COURSE WAS WRONG ABOUT THAT. I WAS THE "POOR PEOPLE" THAT PAID THE "STUPID TAX"! I DON'T DO THAT ANY MORE. I AM AGAINST THAT WHOLE IDEA OF A CHURCH, SYNAGOGUE, MASK, TEMPLE OR THE GOVERNMENT AT ANY LEVEL STEALING MONEY FROM THE POOR PEOPLE OR CHILDREN IN THIS MANNER. I AM ESPECIALLY AGAINST GOD'S ORGANIZATIONS TEACHING PEOPLE TO GAMBLE. ESPECIALLY TEACHING CHILDREN TO GAMBLE. I DO NOT THINK THAT ADULTS SHOULD TEACH THEIR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE OR TO TEACH THAT IT IS OK TO DO SO. THE IRS DOES NOT ALLOW A DEDUCTION FOR THIS TAX FOR A REASON. SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE IS ACTUALLY A BETTER TAX TO PAY THAN THE GAMBLING TAX. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE AND ONE OF THEM WILL BECOME ADDICTED TO GAMBLING AND POSSIBLY OTHER THINGS AS WELL. BETTER TO GIVE THE MONEY TO YOUR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT. HAS ANYONE EVER PURCHASED A TICKET IN THE NAME OF THEIR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT? WINNING WOULD BE THE SUPREME TEST. DO PEOPLE TITHE ON THE LOTTERY WINNINGS? ENOUGH OF TAXING THE POOR PEOPLE TO SEND PEOPLE WHO ARE BETTER OFF KIDS TO COLLEGE! MGR1949!
Member at 7:18 AM, April 01 2012
WHEN I WAS ABOUT 11 YEARS OLD AND EARNED MY OWN MONEY WORKING HARD OUR PARISH HAD AN ANNUAL FUND RAISER AND THAT YEAR 1949 THE PRIZE WAS A BEAUTFUL SCHWIN BIKE WITH WHITEWALL TIRES. I WANTED THAT BIKE VERY, VERY, VERY, MUCH SO I BOUGHT A BUNCH OF LOTTERY TICKETS AND WAS SURE I WOULD WIN. I OF COURSE WAS WRONG ABOUT THAT. I WAS THE "POOR PEOPLE" THAT PAID THE "STUPID TAX"! I DON'T DO THAT ANY MORE. I AM AGAINST THAT WHOLE IDEA OF A CHURCH, SYNAGOGUE, MASK, TEMPLE OR THE GOVERNMENT AT ANY LEVEL STEALING MONEY FROM THE POOR PEOPLE OR CHILDREN IN THIS MANNER. I AM ESPECIALLY AGAINST GOD'S ORGANIZATIONS TEACHING PEOPLE TO GAMBLE. ESPECIALLY TEACHING CHILDREN TO GAMBLE. I DO NOT THINK THAT ADULTS SHOULD TEACH THEIR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE OR TO TEACH THAT IT IS OK TO DO SO. THE IRS DOES NOT ALLOW A DEDUCTION FOR THIS TAX FOR A REASON. SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE IS ACTUALLY A BETTER TAX TO PAY THAN THE GAMBLING TAX. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE AND ONE OF THEM WILL BECOME ADDICTED TO GAMBLING AND POSSIBLY OTHER THINGS AS WELL. BETTER TO GIVE THE MONEY TO YOUR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT. HAS ANYONE EVER PURCHASED A TICKET IN THE NAME OF THEIR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT? WINNING WOULD BE THE SUPREME TEST. DO PEOPLE TITHE ON THE LOTTERY WINNINGS? ENOUGH OF TAXING THE POOR PEOPLE TO SEND PEOPLE WHO ARE BETTER OFF KIDS TO COLLEGE! MGR1949!
Member at 7:18 AM, April 01 2012
WHEN I WAS ABOUT 11 YEARS OLD AND EARNED MY OWN MONEY WORKING HARD OUR PARISH HAD AN ANNUAL FUND RAISER AND THAT YEAR 1949 THE PRIZE WAS A BEAUTFUL SCHWIN BIKE WITH WHITEWALL TIRES. I WANTED THAT BIKE VERY, VERY, VERY, MUCH SO I BOUGHT A BUNCH OF LOTTERY TICKETS AND WAS SURE I WOULD WIN. I OF COURSE WAS WRONG ABOUT THAT. I WAS THE "POOR PEOPLE" THAT PAID THE "STUPID TAX"! I DON'T DO THAT ANY MORE. I AM AGAINST THAT WHOLE IDEA OF A CHURCH, SYNAGOGUE, MASK, TEMPLE OR THE GOVERNMENT AT ANY LEVEL STEALING MONEY FROM THE POOR PEOPLE OR CHILDREN IN THIS MANNER. I AM ESPECIALLY AGAINST GOD'S ORGANIZATIONS TEACHING PEOPLE TO GAMBLE. ESPECIALLY TEACHING CHILDREN TO GAMBLE. I DO NOT THINK THAT ADULTS SHOULD TEACH THEIR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE OR TO TEACH THAT IT IS OK TO DO SO. THE IRS DOES NOT ALLOW A DEDUCTION FOR THIS TAX FOR A REASON. SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE IS ACTUALLY A BETTER TAX TO PAY THAN THE GAMBLING TAX. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO GAMBLE AND ONE OF THEM WILL BECOME ADDICTED TO GAMBLING AND POSSIBLY OTHER THINGS AS WELL. BETTER TO GIVE THE MONEY TO YOUR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT. HAS ANYONE EVER PURCHASED A TICKET IN THE NAME OF THEIR CHURCH OR FAVORITE NON PROFIT? WINNING WOULD BE THE SUPREME TEST. DO PEOPLE TITHE ON THE LOTTERY WINNINGS? ENOUGH OF TAXING THE POOR PEOPLE TO SEND PEOPLE WHO ARE BETTER OFF KIDS TO COLLEGE! MGR1949!
Member at 7:18 AM, April 01 2012
DAVE: PLEASE ORGANIZE ALL OF YOUR "RANTS" INTO ONE PLACE IN CATEGORIES SO WE CAN ALL JUST GO TO THE RANT TO READ YOUR STUFF. I ESPECIALLY LIKE THE ONES ON THE BABY STEPS AND THE GOVERNMENT MISDEEDS. MGR1949
Member at 7:22 AM, April 01 2012
DAVE: PLEASE ORGANIZE ALL OF YOUR "RANTS" INTO ONE PLACE IN CATEGORIES SO WE CAN ALL JUST GO TO THE RANT TO READ YOUR STUFF. I ESPECIALLY LIKE THE ONES ON THE BABY STEPS AND THE GOVERNMENT MISDEEDS. MGR1949
Member at 7:22 AM, April 01 2012
DAVE: PLEASE ORGANIZE ALL OF YOUR "RANTS" INTO ONE PLACE IN CATEGORIES SO WE CAN ALL JUST GO TO THE RANT TO READ YOUR STUFF. I ESPECIALLY LIKE THE ONES ON THE BABY STEPS AND THE GOVERNMENT MISDEEDS. MGR1949
Member at 7:22 AM, April 01 2012
DAVE: PLEASE ORGANIZE ALL OF YOUR "RANTS" INTO ONE PLACE IN CATEGORIES SO WE CAN ALL JUST GO TO THE RANT TO READ YOUR STUFF. I ESPECIALLY LIKE THE ONES ON THE BABY STEPS AND THE GOVERNMENT MISDEEDS. MGR1949
Member at 7:22 AM, April 01 2012
DAVE: PLEASE ORGANIZE ALL OF YOUR "RANTS" INTO ONE PLACE IN CATEGORIES SO WE CAN ALL JUST GO TO THE RANT TO READ YOUR STUFF. I ESPECIALLY LIKE THE ONES ON THE BABY STEPS AND THE GOVERNMENT MISDEEDS. MGR1949
Member at 7:22 AM, April 01 2012
DAVE: PLEASE ORGANIZE ALL OF YOUR "RANTS" INTO ONE PLACE IN CATEGORIES SO WE CAN ALL JUST GO TO THE RANT TO READ YOUR STUFF. I ESPECIALLY LIKE THE ONES ON THE BABY STEPS AND THE GOVERNMENT MISDEEDS. MGR1949
Member at 7:22 AM, April 01 2012
DAVE: PLEASE ORGANIZE ALL OF YOUR "RANTS" INTO ONE PLACE IN CATEGORIES SO WE CAN ALL JUST GO TO THE RANT TO READ YOUR STUFF. I ESPECIALLY LIKE THE ONES ON THE BABY STEPS AND THE GOVERNMENT MISDEEDS. MGR1949
Member at 7:22 AM, April 01 2012
@conniebug: Actually, no one has ever been hit by lightening, except maybe my wife at the beauty salon. The word that's escaping you is "lightning."
Member at 4:27 PM, April 01 2012
I believe that lottery is a tax on whomever buys a ticket. This is why the lottery is government run and not privately run. You are voluntarily paying taxes when playing the lottery.
Member at 7:01 PM, April 01 2012
As long as you realize that what you're buying is the opportunity to daydream about what you'd do with that money because statistically, that is what you are buying. As long as you're okay with that purchase, feel free to use your blow money on it if you want. Just my 2 cents.
Member at 9:43 AM, April 02 2012
And people, sometimes daydreaming is worth 5 bucks once a blue moon. Yes I know I probably won't win, but I find that when I step out of the confines of my finances I begin to really see where my heart might lead me if I had such means. Crunching numbers 24/7 leads to a very grouchy outlook. I'll live a little, thanks!
Member at 1:24 PM, April 02 2012
Part of a diversified investment strategy. Wait for the lottery to reach more than $500 million and give myself a $10 chance versus no chance at all. I like the generosity ideas that the dream generated.
Member at 10:59 AM, April 03 2012
Agree with rolo4evr LOL. Blow money can be spent on that. Always being careful we don't stick our hand into the groceries envelope to grab money for playing lotto.
Member at 5:25 PM, April 04 2012
I sacrifice a lot right now - if I give myself a break and the illusion for a few hours that there could be a short cut waiting to happen, then so be it. Just let it be. It's my $ 10 blow money and I like it that way. It is the power of hope and dreams, much stronger than rational thoughts and statistical data against playing. I would probably do it again when the jack pot is high. Whoopee! I wish the government would just do a better job with money. That part is my only regret.
Member at 7:47 PM, April 04 2012
I know this is an old thread; however, I only put in a dollar or two when the pot is REALLY big and there is an office pool going. My theory is, I don't want to be the only one to HAVE to go to work on Monday morning if the rest of the group gets lucky and wins the jackpot. (This happens once every year or two!)
Member at 12:45 PM, July 29 2013

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