Get Rich!! Play the Lottery!! Somebody has to win!!

Get Rich!! Play the Lottery!! Somebody has to win!!

I don’t go to casinos, I don’t buy scratch offs, and I don’t play the powerball no matter how high the jackpot. That is until tonight, I was just informed that my wife threw in $10 with her family to buy lottery tickets. Now before I go off portraying my wife as a know nothing moron who plays the lottery I can see the occasional “fun” money being spent on what-if scenarios and by all other accounts I don’t think there are two many women in this world that can handle expenses as well as my wife. Me however I feel almost sick that some of our hard-earned money was voluntarily paid into the stupidity tax. I would rather have heard her say that she had just lit a $10 bill on fire to see what would happen.

Well anyway I guess in some way I am playing the lottery today, let’s see what my odds of winning are. According to the Powerball lottery the odds of winning the powerball jackpot are 1 in 146,107,962. Now let’s put that into perspective. You would be more likely to flip a penny in the air and have it land tails 27 times in a row than win the lottery. This is probably the least gruesome and maybe most fun example of how hard it is to beat the odds. Here are some more examples.

  • I am 5,000 times more likely to be struck by lightening in my life time (Source: National Weather Service )
  • I am 208 times more likely to be struck by lightening this year than win the powerball (Source: National Weather Service)
  • You are 16 times more likely to get killed driving 10 miles to claim your Powerball ticket than actually winning it in the first place (Source: CNN)
  • Note: buying more lottery tickets does not increase your chances to win at all – its negligible unless you buying thousands and even then see your odds below
  • If you spent $10,000 a week on lottery tickets it would take you 2,809 years to win (Source: My Financial Journey)
  • If you spent $1 million dollars per year on lottery tickets it would take you over 146 years to win (Source: My Financial Journey)
  • If every single person alive on the planet (6.5 Billion) bought a powerball ticket – only 44 people would win (Source: Google Search )
  • My wife and I are expecting – we are 4,565,874 more times likely to have twins than win the power ball (Source: BabyCenter and Storknet)
    • We are 584,432 times more likely to have identical twins
    • 18,038 more likely to have triplets
    • 200 times more likely to have quadruplets
    • over 30 times more likely to have quintuplets
  • You are 8,117 times more likely to be murdered than win the lottery (Source:
  • You are 213 times more likely to die in your bathtub (Source:
  • You are 146 times more likely to die from a fireworks accident in your lifetime (Source:
  • You are 208 times more likely to die from a dog bite (Source:

So I guess my challange to my readers is to flip a penny and let me know how many of one side you get in a row. Don’t cheat eaither 😉

Also if you got any other favorite odds comparisons let me know.

  • That’s $10 less to spend sushi.


  • Now that was funny! My wife likes to play those scratch offs. When they first came to our state she won $500. It was the best thing ever and the worst thing ever! She’s probably spent $600 over the past 10 years trying to duplicate that effort!

    By the way, I didn’t have any change to try the coin-flipping tests…geez I’m broke!

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  • Steve

    It’s not quite as bad as all that. It’s true that the odds of winning are really low, but if you do win you win a lot of money. From what I understand lotteries keep about half the proceeds for themselves, and distribute the rest as prizes. So for the most part the expected value of a $1 lottery ticket is roughly 50 cents.

    So, think of it as if your wife had lit a $5 bill on fire to see if it burns instead of a $10 bill.

    Our state lottery used to send out coupons for free lottery plays, which we gladly used. They stopped doing that and now they send buy one get one free coupons. At even odds it’s still not very interesting to me to play.

  • Norm





    I’m off to buy a lottery ticket!

  • Norm

    Shoot. The above was supposed to have *flip* in front of each line (like flipping a penny) but I used html brackets so it’s now embedded in the page’s code somewhere.

    Another attempt at humor shot down by technology.

  • On the 4 occasions I went to buy a lottery ticket, the first
    3 resulted in the machine being out of order. When i finally
    managed to by a ticket, i never bothered to see if i had won

    I’d rather buy some fancy stamps!

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  • brocktune

    Correct my if I am wrong but

    2^47 = 140,737,488,355,328.
    that is the chances of 47 straight coin flips of tails. which is far more difficult than the lottery. You by every single permentation of the lottery ticket 146,107,962. You would be guarenteed to win. But with the split pot nature of lotto. You might need to split the pot. That is the rub. Not including taxes. More players the less chances of winning an amout that would make it worth it. It think 27 times in a row is the about the right odds

  • MFJ

    You are correct – can’t believe I didn’t catch that typo. Thanks brocktune!

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  • Corey

    You seem mortified that she would dare spend 10 dollars on lottery. You seem like some financial nut job who reads every self help money book in the world. Ok, you’d be real hard pressed to actually win the powerball jackpot. But the jackpot isn’t the only thing you can win. If you were to match the powerball you win 2 dollars. Some states you can win a free ticket, to play again. But at least she spent the money on the harmless lottery and not heroin or crack cocaine. Jeez do you know all of the harmful things she could’ve done with that 10 dollars. Buy cigarettes, buy alcohol, buy Rx medication, buy contraceptives to cheat on you with, consider yourself lucky that your wife respects you enough to never ask you to play the lottery and occasionally when the jackpot gets big she buys 10 tickets. Hell, she could even use that 10 to buy a Scientology book. Count your blessings and stop being condescending and passive aggressive towards your wife by talking about her behind her back like she’s a fiscal nightmare.

  • MFJ

    @Corey –
    A couple of points to your comment. First off I think you may have misread the context of the article as I was going more for humor than serious financial advice, but regardless I’ll address some of your comments.

    As far as reading self help money books that’s not me. I’m borderline illiterate when it comes to reading books and can honestly count on 1 hand the number of books I’ve read that were not school related (and that’s only if you include audiobooks).

    As far as my wife is concerned she reads all of my articles and very much enjoyed this post. As an aside though she also does not smoke, drink, do drugs, and I believe this is the only time she has bought a lottery ticket, although we did both go to a casino once and hated it.

    As far as your comments about the fact that you can “win” other things other than the powerball you are correct, but I’ll bet every penny that I own that you will never make money if you play the lottery regularly. The odds even for your “free ticket” (if you don’t count the $1 you spent in the first place) are tilted pretty drastically in the favor of the state/casino.

    I even mention in my article that I see no problem with occasional “fun” money being spent on lottery tickets, I still think though that you are horribly mistaken if you think you will ever make any money by playing the lottery.

  • if i keep $1.00 in my pocket instead of buying a lottery ticket I will be 146,107,962 time more likely of having a $1.00 bill in my pocket after the drawing then if I bought a ticket. Now that is perty good odds.

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