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Why The Mega Millions Jackpot Is Nothing But Another Tax On America's Poor

Tyler Durden's picture


Now that the Mega Millions Jackpot has just hit a record $640 million, people, mostly those in the lower and middle classes, are coming out in droves and buying lottery tickets with hopes of striking it rich. After all, with $640 million one can even afford a few shares of Apple stock. Naturally, we wish the lucky winner all the (non-diluted) best. There is, however, a small problem here when one steps back from the Sino Forest trees. As ConvergEx' Nicholas Colas explains, "Lotteries essentially target and encourage lower-income individuals into a cycle that directly prevents them from improving their financial status and leverages their desire to escape poverty.  Yes, that’s a bit harsh, and yes, people have the right to make their own decisions.  Even bad ones…  Also, many people tend to significantly overestimate the odds of winning because we tend to assess the likelihood of an event occurring based on how frequently we hear about it happening.  The technical name for this is the Availability Heuristic, which means the more we hear about big winners in the press, the less uncommon a big payday begins to seem." Call it that, or call it what one wishes, the end result is that the lottery is nothing but society's perfectly efficient way of, to use a term from the vernacular, keeping the poor man down while dangling hopes and dreams of escaping into the world of the loathsome and oh so very detested "1% ers". Alas, the probability of the latter happening to "you" is virtually non-existant.

Full explanation from Nick Colas on how and why Americans are lining up in lines around the block to... pay more taxes.

What Seems To Be Is Always Better than Nothing

Summary: American adults spent an average of $251 on lottery tickets last year.  With a return of 53 cents on the dollar, this means the average person threw away $118 on unsuccessful lotto tickets – not a great investment.  So why are we spending so much?  Well, lotteries are a fun, cheap opportunity to daydream about the possibility of becoming an overnight millionaire, but on the flip side people tend to overestimate the odds of winning.  Lower-income demographics spend a much greater portion of their annual earnings on lottery tickets than do wealthier ones.  Since lotteries are state-run, that effectively means that the less affluent pay more in taxes (albeit by choice) than broadly appreciated.  And even winning the lottery doesn’t guarantee financial success.  More than 5% of lottery winners declare bankruptcy within 5 years of taking home the jackpot.  Despite their drawbacks, though, lotteries are no doubt here for the long haul – in states that have lotteries, an average of 11% of their total revenues come from lottery ticket sales, and the number is even as high as 36% in 2 states (West Virginia and Michigan).
Note from Nick: Daydreams may be the best example of a product in an inflationary spiral; the price of a Powerball lottery ticket went from $1 to $2 on January 1st.  That news got me thinking about the price elasticity of fantasies.  After all, the state lottery commissions involved in this venture must believe that a 100% price bump will not deter enough customers to lower their overall take.  That’s a big gamble (pun intended) to take on what is an increasingly important revenue input for many state budgets.  Beth takes up the story from here…
Consider the following credit-card-advertisement style sequence of statistics:

  • Lottery ticket sales in the US in 2010:  $59 billion
  • Average spending per person:  $191
  • Average spending per adult:  $251
  • Chance at hitting the jackpot:  (Apparently) priceless.

I have never bought a lottery ticket and honestly don’t even know how.  And as far as I’m aware, I don’t know anyone who spends north of 200 bucks a year playing the lotto.  The only lottery my friends play is the NYC marathon lottery, where they’re gambling for maybe a 1 in 13 chance to fork over $255 for the privilege of slugging out 26 miles through the city’s streets.  Not quite hitting the jackpot in most people’s minds. 
But someone, somewhere is buying all those tickets.  In Massachusetts, where the lottery is more popular than in any other state, people spend an average of $634 a year on Mega Millions, Powerball and the like.  Delaware comes in at number 2 with $504 spent per person, while Rhode Island ($469), West Virginia ($388) and New York ($357) round out the top 5.  North Dakota brings up the rear with per capita lottery spending of $34.  You can see the full list in the table following the text. 
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly who is investing so much money in a product that provides poor returns, but numerous studies show that lower-income people spend a much greater proportion of their earnings on lotteries than do wealthier people.  One figure suggests that households making less than $13,000 a year spend a full 9 percent of their income on lotteries.  This of course makes no sense – poor people should be the least willing to waste their hard-earned cash on games with such terrible odds of winning. (
Why bother?  Well, one answer is obvious enough and applies to just about everyone who plays.  For a buck (now $2 for Powerball) we have a cheap opportunity to daydream what could happen if we suddenly won millions of dollars.  But lotteries return 53 cents to the dollar.  So why are poor people irrationally buying tickets when the probability of winning is so slim?  One study by a team of Carnegie Mellon University behavioral economists (Haisley, Mostafa and Loewenstein) suggests it isn’t being poor but rather feeling poor that compels people to purchase lotto tickets.
By influencing participants’ perceptions of their relative wealth, the researchers found that people who felt poor bought almost two times as many lottery tickets as those who were made to feel more affluent.  Here’s how they did it:

  • Participants were asked to complete a survey that included an item on annual income.  One group was asked to provide its income on a scale that began at “less than $100,000” and went up from there in increments of $100,000.  It was designed so that most respondents would be in the lowest category and therefore feel poor. 
  • The other group, made to feel subjectively wealthier, was asked to report income on a scale that began with “less than $10,000” and increased in $10,000 increments.  Therefore most participants were in a middle or upper tier.
  • All participants were paid $5 for participating in the survey and given the chance to buy up to 5 $1 scratch-off lottery tickets.  The group who felt wealthier bought 0.67 tickets on average, compared with 1.27 tickets for the group who felt poor.

Lotteries essentially target and encourage lower-income individuals into a cycle that directly prevents them from improving their financial status and leverages their desire to escape poverty.  Yes, that’s a bit harsh, and yes, people have the right to make their own decisions.  Even bad ones…  Also, many people tend to significantly overestimate the odds of winning because we tend to assess the likelihood of an event occurring based on how frequently we hear about it happening.  The technical name for this is the Availability Heuristic, which means the more we hear about big winners in the press, the less uncommon a big payday begins to seem.   
Not that hitting the jackpot is guaranteed to substantially improve the winner’s life.  Economists at the University of Kentucky, University of Pittsburgh and Vanderbilt University collected data from 35,000 lottery winners of up to $150,000 in Florida’s Fantasy 5 lottery from 1993 to 2002.  Their findings are as follows:

  • More than 1,900 winners declared bankruptcy within 5 years, implying that 1% of Florida lottery players (both winners and losers) go bankrupt in any given year, which is about twice the rate for the broader population.
  • “Big” lottery winners, those awarded between $50,000 and $150,000 were half as likely as smaller winners to go bankrupt within 2 years of their win, however equally likely to go bankrupt 3 to 5 years after.
  • 5.5% of lottery winners declared bankruptcy within 5 years of bringing home the jackpot.
  • The average award for the big winners was $65,000 – more than enough to pay off the $49,000 in unsecured debt of the most financially distressed winners.

Lottery players tend to have below-average incomes, so they are probably less accustomed to budgeting when they receive a windfall.  There’s also a psychological term called Mental Accounting that explains how people might treat their winnings less cautiously than money they’ve worked for.  Money has come into their possession through luck, which similar to bonus payments, often induces an urge to purchase unnecessary items.
But whether you think state lotteries are awful or great, there’s another word for them: essentialIn both West Virginia and Michigan, for example, lottery sales accounted for 36% of total state revenues in fiscal year 2010, and on average state with lotteries take in 11% of total revenues in the form of lotto ticket sales.  We’ve included the full list in a table following the text.  There are still 7 states that don’t have their own lottery systems, so the national average would be lower. 
A couple of closing thoughts on what this all means:

  • Don’t make investment decisions when you are feeling poor.  The study we cited earlier clearly shows that you are likely to buy more “lottery tickets” (think of that as a metaphor for any long shot investment) when you feel less affluent than those around you.
  • Lower income individuals likely pay more in “Taxes” than most economic commentators realize.  Assuming that the 80/20 rule applies to lottery participation, the bulk of that $59 billion in annual receipts likely comes from 20-25 million less affluent households.  That would be about $47 billion from this demographic, or roughly $2,400 per household.  Yes, I get the notion that this money is handed over in the hope of a payoff.  An ill-advised and mathematically unlikely hope, as it turns out.  But does that mean it doesn’t count as a societal contribution?
  • Maybe the U.S. needs a national lottery.  Yes, these games don’t necessarily encourage the best financial planning among the less affluent.  But there is no denying that playing the lottery is entirely voluntary.  There are probably some anti-gaming factions in government who wouldn’t like this approach, to be sure.  But there’s also no doubt that the Federal budget could use the money.  And, hey, you never know…


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Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:30 | 2304031 Normalcy Bias
Normalcy Bias's picture

There’s also a psychological term called Mental Accounting that explains how people might treat their winnings less cautiously than money they’ve worked for.  Money has come into their possession through luck, which similar to bonus payments, often induces an urge to purchase unnecessary items.

This is sort of like poor people pissing away their welfare monies on lotto tickets, eh?

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:31 | 2304046 wcvarones
wcvarones's picture

Mega Millions can be a positive NPV bet (and it was the last few draws).

But now it is negative:


Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:32 | 2304051 dryam
dryam's picture

This NBA player bought $10k worth........

He'll be one of those fiing for bankruptcy 5 years after being out of basketball.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:52 | 2304145 Iam_Silverman
Iam_Silverman's picture

"He'll be one of those filing for bankruptcy 5 years after being out of basketball."

Not if he wins.  Then, it'll be more like eight years out.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:13 | 2304250 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture



flag as true (1)

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:33 | 2304056 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

I hope a convicted rapist or some trash like that wins... that would sure make a whole lot of people pissed... shall be fun to watch.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:51 | 2304152 Dave Thomas
Dave Thomas's picture

Watch Jon Corzine win.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:05 | 2304226 GeezerGeek
GeezerGeek's picture

He isn't in jail. I think he already won.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:33 | 2304060 TradingJoe
TradingJoe's picture

I cleaned my car the other day and found some $3 bucks in loose change, I bought my dog a treat and dumped the rest($1) in a MM ticket:)), my dog would get another treat if I were to winn a couple a bucks :)))!

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:34 | 2304064 Henry Hub
Henry Hub's picture

Government lotteries are a tax on stupidity!

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:36 | 2304072 Seasmoke
Seasmoke's picture

still i much prefer paying a tax THAT I DECIDED to pay, instead of a tax at the threat of a loss my property, freedom, etc.....

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:36 | 2304073 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

I wonder who won that last powerball from Stamford, CT that was like 350 mil.

Whoever it was managed to stay anonymous despite CT law, though SAC is in Stamford CT. That would be some shit if Stephen Cohen won the lottery.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:58 | 2304186 aerojet
aerojet's picture

Already swept under the rug and forgetten.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:37 | 2304079 UGrev
UGrev's picture

Hey, how can we get people to give us money, take half of it, and then make them feel like a winner or atleast have hope? 

L O T T E R Y!

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:37 | 2304080 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

Someone in my family won 6 mil a few years ago. And two other people I know won 100k$ and another one 250k$. Pretty neat.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:42 | 2304094 Crispy
Crispy's picture

Someone is my wifes family won in the teens a decade ago. Funny thing is they already owned half the food vendors on Coney Island. Far from poor in other words...Needless to say they have not become another lotto statistic.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:38 | 2304086 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture



Instead of buying lotto tickets they should be buying Silver Eagles!

after 20 years of plowing money into silver (or gold for those Junkies who have the ability to buy LIE big enough) there would be a NICE little Chest filled with Pirates Treasure!

Instead of MORE! Printed Pieces of Paper!

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 17:29 | 2304965 zerozulu
zerozulu's picture

Chances of winning if you spend your lotto money on Silver Eagle is ----- 100%------

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:38 | 2304087 I Am Not a Copp...
I Am Not a Copper Top's picture

Just out on the wires:


Stocks Rise on Gains in Megamillions Estimates

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:40 | 2304099 Doomer
Doomer's picture

You'd be kinda dumb to not throw a buck at it, wouldn't you?  You know, that same buck that most 'round here says ain't worth nuthin'.

Of course, if you already have more money than you know what to do with, then why bother?  But you could send Jeeves to buy the ticket for you, and split it with him if you hit it.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:40 | 2304101 Segestan
Segestan's picture

I'll bet if the author wins... he shuts the fuck up.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:42 | 2304105 BrokeDayTrader
BrokeDayTrader's picture

I totally suck at trading, my shorts keep getting picked off by the Wall St. criminals.

I'm going to put $100 on the Lotto, if I win I'll swear off trading forever.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:42 | 2304106 youALREADYknow
youALREADYknow's picture

Question: How many people in the entire world right now have $300M in liquid assets?

That's the number that really matters here.

If you're able to put yourself into a tier of wealth that enables you to exert power and influence over those less fortunate, then the true value of that wealth outweighs NPV. Kings used to obtain wealth as a means to power and influence masses. Now they just use debt and fiat to do the same.

I think that those who have "larger" plans for their potential winnings are justified in their pursuit for that kind of wealth. Those who just want to get rich, kick back, and relax are often the ones who end up broke and taken advantage of.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:47 | 2304135 Randall Cabot
Randall Cabot's picture

If it hits $700,000,000 I'll have to stop at the WAWA machine and buy another ticket.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:48 | 2304141 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

You know it's gonna.

And I'm gonna laugh if nobody wins it.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:49 | 2304142 BrokeDayTrader
BrokeDayTrader's picture

If i hear those bimbos on CNBC bragging about shopping center reit stocks up again I think I'm going to hurl.

Diana, go buy a lotto ticket you ugly troll.


Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:54 | 2304151 haskelslocal
haskelslocal's picture

The best way to play is to buy a liquor store in a sharing state (like California) where a percentage of the winning ticket goes to the retailer.

Win/Win/Win. Surround yourself with a flow of income, have a pantry of food and alcohol and win lotto money off of other people's betting.  

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:58 | 2304189 Doomer
Doomer's picture

Now I know why so many are owned by the Paks.  Smart fuckers.


Oh, don't forget to stock the shelves with porn and herbal boner pills.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 20:34 | 2305370 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

aye, talk about a stupid tax. . .

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:51 | 2304153 Golden monkey
Golden monkey's picture

Betting is stupid. The solution is to get that 7eleven job and to start printing loto tickets. Lots of them. Go across the street : they have more papper for the machine. Ask Bernanke. He knows how to win. What are you waiting for? Take the cash and buy silver eagles, ya dumbfuck.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:56 | 2304177 Golden monkey
Golden monkey's picture

Don't tell nobody : that monkey (your boss, the one with the mad chick) is paying for loto tickets by direct withdrawal. You're on top man.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:02 | 2304211 Golden monkey
Golden monkey's picture

I don't mean robbing tickets, ya dumbfuck. Stick the devil in your dick in that chick, get paid for it, and pay him back. And rembember, don't get stuck on the wrong side of the trade.

Who do ya think I am, asso? I'm a worldclass monkey.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:52 | 2304156 Shleprock
Shleprock's picture

Please don't make fun of my retirement fund!!!

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:58 | 2304162 The Onion Of Tw...
The Onion Of Twickenham's picture

Samuel Johnson said that a lottery is a tax on the daft.

Here in the UK we have the Premium Bonds. Each £1 is entered every month into a random draw. Winning are tax free. You can get back your original investment at any time.The most interesting thing is how the random numbers get generated. They seed the generator by sampling radioactive decay - a truly random event at the quantum level. Cool, huh?

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:55 | 2304171 Doomer
Doomer's picture

Funny that MA, home of two of the most renowned institutions of higher learning, spends the highest per capita on the lottery.  Maybe the same guys that beat the casinos at Blackjack have got this thing figured out?

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:55 | 2304174 tovar2
tovar2's picture

Makes sense...just like pawn shops are becoming the new economy for the poor and middle class.

Lottery tickets and pawn shops are becoming freeways of redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor and newly poor

Great job Big O!

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:56 | 2304180 mdn
mdn's picture

Lotteries can't be a tax on "America's Poor" because none of the GOP candidates is pushing for a National Lottery.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 13:57 | 2304183 machineh
machineh's picture

The poor buy Lotto tickets, and nearly all of them lose.

The rich buy AAPL, and <i>everyone wins.</i>

Have you bought AAPL today?

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 18:38 | 2305152 Hicham
Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:00 | 2304202 ILikeBoats
ILikeBoats's picture

I saw this all the time when I would sell stuff to grocery stores many years ago.  Go into a place, obviously serving a bunch of people on welfare, and the busiest part of the store was not the section with oatmeal or fresh veggies or fruits ... but the lotto ticket counter.  Saw a guy spend half his welfare check on it, got a huge big roll of tickets... few minutes later, nothing ...

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:04 | 2304224 tovar2
tovar2's picture

yeah its called hope moron...some folks would rather have a little hope than a bag of tomatoes.   You've obviously had your head in your ass too long on that boat.


Tired of hearing idiots who have no mercy for those who are hurting or on welfare.   


 PS Not all of us Republicans think those who get some sort of aid are all losers.   

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:01 | 2304207 10mm
10mm's picture

You watch,a 1%er will get it or part of it.It will be dilluted.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:02 | 2304213 ACjourneyman
ACjourneyman's picture

If my 2.00 ticket wins I will give you guys the heads up, 150 million dollars in silver to be taken out of the market.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:05 | 2304230 robertocarlos
robertocarlos's picture

I once saw a member of the Pittsburg Penquins buying lotto tickets in Canada. He was one of their best players.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:10 | 2304244 i love cholas
i love cholas's picture

Tyler, its friday man. Buy a few tickets and have a beer. We all know the country is fucked but articles like these are like calling double dribble on a retarded kid. You got to let some shit slide

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:16 | 2304261 hayward102
hayward102's picture

When you see the figures in the article, it seems clear many lower income people are playing a higher % of their income than they should on the lottery. For a large portion of those playing, they should probably be spending $0 on the lottery. However, I don't think it is accurate to say the lottery is only for people that are stupid or suck at math. Every dollar you spend isn't an investment. There is clearly an entertainment component to the lottery. If I spend $5-$10 per month on the lottery that is entertainment money. If I'm in Vegas I like to play low $ craps with friends because it is entertaining. I know my EV is negative. Lotteries wouldn't exist if people didn't spend more than they should on them, but that doesn't mean that every $ spent on the lottery is by someone that just doesn't understand math.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:18 | 2304262 hayward102
hayward102's picture


Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:22 | 2304282 mr.5280
mr.5280's picture

numerous studies show that lower-income people spend a much greater proportion of their earnings on lotteries than do wealthier people

Isn't that just a law of math?

Let's suppose everyone (rich or poor) spend the average, it's a law of math the proportion is higher for people who earn less.  I would tend to assume that rich people are less likely anyway, because they earned their riches (typically), and weren't handed them.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:32 | 2304326 non_anon
non_anon's picture

yep, state sponsored and advertised thievery of the dumbed down masses, but hey, it keeps them dreaming and keeps the attention off the current depresson

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:35 | 2304334 Cranios
Cranios's picture

Don't you really mean

"The lottery is a tax on those who aren't good at math, many of whom happen to be poor because they aren't good at math?"

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:45 | 2304376 Something Wonderful
Something Wonderful's picture

Some psychic people steal the numbers from God like Prometheus did fire and have their liver eaten out daily once he/she finds out. Look at some of the fatal stories of lottery winners out there. 


"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."

H.P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu"


Fri, 03/30/2012 - 20:27 | 2305360 Maos Dog
Maos Dog's picture

+10000 for quoting Lovecraft

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 15:03 | 2304391 Doomer
Doomer's picture

Apparently, this dummy with a PhD in statistics from Stanford is pretty damn lucky:


Four wins in Texas worth over $20 million.  Oh, and she lives in Vegas.

From her pic, my guess is her hobbies are counting cards, reading statistics journals, and eating ham sandwiches.


Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:55 | 2304409 lolmao500
lolmao500's picture

An illegal immigrant winning would sure make some heads explode.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 17:14 | 2304910 zerozulu
zerozulu's picture

you probabily don't know winning ticket has a premioum and a "needy" can pay you twice.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:56 | 2304420 TuesdayBen
TuesdayBen's picture

$10 to see some shit outta Hollywood, or $10 worth of Mega tix... No brainer.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 14:59 | 2304426 Catullus
Catullus's picture

Who cares? So they spend $250 a year... The number is probably bullshit given how you don't know how many people are in a purchasing pool.

The taxing thing about the lottery is having to listen to pencil heads tell you that you shouldn't do it. Go listen to NPR and stuff it. It's just a game. The consumption is the dream.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 15:06 | 2304443 CuriousPasserby
CuriousPasserby's picture

Not to be rude but if they didn't buy lottery tickets the money would be spent on cigarettes, booze, or fast food, so it's a lot healthier.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 15:07 | 2304445 Saro
Saro's picture

Anytime I think it might be fun to buy a lottery ticket, I only have to think about the numbers I'd choose to talk me out of it. When your numbers are 1-2-3-4-5, you first realize how unlikely it is that you'll be winning with that, and secondly you realize that those numbers are just as good as any.

Still, scratch-offs make fun stocking stuffers. /protip

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 15:12 | 2304461 Scalaris
Scalaris's picture


It can be argued that lottery is a nonsensical waste of money, an exercise in futility and a pastime of lower socioeconomic echelons.

I think that a more fitting description would be that of a investment in hope, albeit a delusional one at best, since whoever pays the costs for lottery participation doesn't always calculate the absurd probabilities that are being involved.

And in the way the current state of societal affairs ended up being, why even try to argue about the "poor man's tax" that is the lottery, when people who gamble for this delusional dream or hope of an escape from their dismal lives belong to the same collectives who are unemployed, undercapitalized, nearing homelessness, living from uncertain paycheck to uncertain paycheck, many times undereducated and all around disenfranchised. 

These are the people who were affected the most by the dismal economic shifts of the past years, the same people who are being fed with $0.50 McMeals, the same people who live with extreme couponing or whatever American reality shows are calling it these days and the same people who have absolutely no chance whatsoever to live a better than miserable life, either because they deserve it due to the natural selection of Darwinian social survivalism, or because they were good law-abiding citizens, who were at worst naive of their government's machinations, but who got screwed nonetheless.

So if you take their absurd dream of an escape from the misery of their life in the form of a lottery ticket, their moronic brain-damaging reality shows and their overindulgence in over-consumerism through constant corporate manipulation brainwashing, then they literally have nothing left to distract them while they are being robbed of their rights, equity and freedom of choice, and they will eventually and undoubtedly decide to revolt and start killing everyone.

So no shit Mr. Nick Colas and kudos for deciphering the fucking obvious.

Please do continue pointing the pointlessness of the underclass' last bastion of hope at your own peril and remember this when the mad max club wakes up and decides to build their post apocalyptic houses with the shattered bones of financial strategists.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 20:53 | 2305396 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

thread win! 

+ the lottery.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 15:23 | 2304478 Iriestx
Iriestx's picture

The lottery is a tax on people bad at math.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 15:49 | 2304599 bbq on whitehou...
bbq on whitehouse lawn's picture

Only if you spend more then you were willing to piss away anyway. If i buy 10$ worth of beer what is the risk to reward of buying a single ticket.

Do you gain more or less from that purchase? If you are all ready pissing away money what is the cost/benifit  of stupid amounts of cash by a random act of nature more or less the the benifit from that equil weight dollar?

Its all a game of chance and a little dreaming of and having a real live freak of nature chance at becoming king for the day.

Well it was only a dollar that you most likely have in change that is not working as anything more then your dresser oniments. When you have nothing to loose and everything to gain, having a little faith that there is a god and he likes you doesnt hurt as much as it may help untill the outcome of the game.

Math is more then just numbers. Is it more or less benificial to you to know you have no chance or any return or is it more benificiial to you to know you have an unlikely chance at improving your condition?

The big boys with billions may make snide remarks twords the unwashed; untill the day one of purpose wins. Then they will chuckle no more.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 16:33 | 2304767 tsx500
tsx500's picture

.... the "stupid people tax"  !

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 15:57 | 2304637 Bunga Bunga
Bunga Bunga's picture

If it's so easy to reduce deficit by lotto, why doesn't the government play?

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 23:51 | 2304687 boiltherich
boiltherich's picture

One of the best parts of the lottery is reading the comments here from my socioeconomic betters pretending they are so much smarter than I am.  But, I am not fooled, they believed themselves better people and smarter than me before any of the lotteries started as well. 

And the right wingers might hate poor people who spend a few bucks on the lottery, but then they would hate them even if there was no lottery so what the fuck do I care what they think?  Even those that would do away with the lottery if they could get a lot of entertainment from it, it is such a convenient moment for them to verbally abuse those without a positive cash net worth which is something they usually can only do on Sundays in church or on right wing radio.

These are the same people who tell you that it is urgent we get government out of peoples lives but in the next breath want to tell others how to live.  And the best part is the absurd comedy of it all totally escapes them.  I swear, sometimes I pee a little I get to laughing at them so hard. 


SEE, two already red arrowed me. 

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 16:37 | 2304717 Something Wonderful
Something Wonderful's picture



illuminati, Jesus, Mohammed and Vishnu

Your Eyes Wide Shut to the number 2

Aztec heart, Demockracy electovotes routed through Tennesee

The Quiji and Tarot see 17

Garden of Eden eternal and everlasting, Devil's bung, Jack Parsons, black Christmas, The Golden Ratio,

A Knight passes 28 dragons

Albert Pike, First quarter moon, European Aristocracy, eyes-in-the-painting, Jupiter glows Hal knows, Ivy Neo-Loyalists, James Joyce, Molly says

41 is choice

Venus blazes in the SW, noodle star-stewed whilst Juliet cries

No stop until The Dead cheer 49 times

TS Eliot can't take Plutonian depth of man's iniquity

Phone home from Up the Heart of Darkness errand boy, mega ball is one plus 29


Fri, 03/30/2012 - 20:56 | 2305402 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

23 enigma.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 16:35 | 2304774 zerozulu
zerozulu's picture

This whole lottery thing is very unfair.  Winning a jackpot of this size is a pain in the ass as every SOB will be after your money. You spend all your efforts to save your money. Ultimately money goes back to the banks.

when prize money go this big, they should remove two numbers and let a lot of people win around 50k so they can straighten out their daily life and money come back to the economy.

Sat, 03/31/2012 - 00:03 | 2305694 boiltherich
boiltherich's picture

BOILTHERICH <---------------------------   Shaking head. 


Zero?  You say it is a pain in the ass because EVERYBODY will be hounding you for money?  Funny, CNBS had a whole story about just that very thing this morning. 

So, um, if I win the quarter billion plus lump sum AFTER taxes I a not going to be able to enjoy it or live freely because so many people will be after my money?

Why don't you just come out and say nobody deserves or can handle that kind of fortune because we would just prove to be nigger rich?  I mean that is just how insulting your comment is, you assume that because there have been a few nortorious cases of people who have won and blown lottery fortunes that everyone who ever has or will will do likewise.  And to take yor deeply flawed logic to it's absurd conclusion why don't we just charge a dollar for a ticket and make the maximum prize one dollar with millions and millions of winners? 

Newsflash fella, if I have a quarter billion bucks nobody will hound me for any of it, not a second time anyway, because after the first time they ask they will not try it again.  And, I might point out that almost all who lost their fortunes really did not win all that much, 5-7 mil which they blew mostly on houses and cars and family toys.  Several like that moron in Wet Vagina who blew 23 million to build two churchs of all fucking things, if you are that stupid fine, and anyway it is NOT for you to judge.  Some people are not comfortable with sudden wealth and go through it quick, not my business and certainly not yours. 

This pain in the ass you refer to, would it be a sharper pain in the nether anus regions than say total dire POVERTY with ZERO hope of financial security?

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 16:41 | 2304790 tsx500
tsx500's picture

bbbbuuuuuttttt     my dogwalker's mother's hairdresser's second cousin knows someone who knows a guy whose personal trainer's brother-in-law  won the lottery 12 years ago ! !      I'm playin !    Can't win if ya don't play !

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 16:45 | 2304807 Common_Cents22
Common_Cents22's picture

If you really want to make money, open a casino w/ an Indian friend.    You can hardly print money faster.  Almost all the "gamblers", more like donors, are young and poor or old and poor.

If you really really want to make money, open a large bank and get access to free taxpayer funds, then turn around and buy treasuries.  

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 16:45 | 2304809 nufio
nufio's picture

EV on health insurance is also negative... thats how insurance companies make money.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 16:52 | 2304824 alchemystic
alchemystic's picture

may not be much chance in winning, however, to some, sadly, it may be their only chance, myself, I chose to cash in 60 of those nickels I've set aside, don't need a half billion, a piddly thousand or two could keep the walls from falling in on me! If I were to win $20, I'd be even, never ever been a fan of this stupid game! Sitting here in california, wishing, waiting, for disaster,that's my winning ticket, that could get me flush! Long Bukowski

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 18:20 | 2305094 Hicham
Hicham's picture

A friend of mine posted this on facebook, great person, but it depressed the hell out of me:

"bought a ticket for megamillion, jackpot is over 500 million dollars......oh the damage I would do with that much money. just day dreaming about it helps a long day go by..."

Couldn't even bear to explain how bad it was. You're better off buying a few beers and enjoying them on a hot day then a useless piece of paper.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 18:55 | 2305196 Dre4dwolf
Dre4dwolf's picture

If I won, I would buy 600 million in nickels and have it all delivered to my backyard MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Then I would swim in my coins.


Then when the economy crashes, whos gona have all the nickels? GUESS WHO ???? ME




My other choice was buying out Willy Wonkas chocolate factory and using oompaloompa technology to take over the world.



Fri, 03/30/2012 - 19:49 | 2305290 Son of Loki
Son of Loki's picture

1 in 6000 is your chance of bebing hit by lightning:

1 in 1,000,000 is your chance of winning the lottery I read.

That puts it into perspective.

Sat, 03/31/2012 - 00:12 | 2305715 boiltherich
boiltherich's picture

1 in 250,000,000 the best sperm in the pack went the wrong way at the uterus the night most people were concieved, the cost of a ticket is a buck, the look on your face when someone here wins PRICELESS.  Then again, maybe I will not win, maybe nobody here will win, and you will be even more smug than usual without being out a whole buck.  But nobody will like you much either because you are a dour old prune.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 19:55 | 2305303 lolmaster
lolmaster's picture

Apparently pompous-named eurobastard nick colas dumas does not understand a +EV bet when he sees one. Not surprising for someone who job is to fluff both with written word and otherwise

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 20:45 | 2305383 The Gooch
The Gooch's picture

Oh shut up.

I can spend some of this social-security/disability/welfare check as I see fit. Hopes and (spare) change!


Sat, 03/31/2012 - 00:15 | 2305724 boiltherich
boiltherich's picture

you MUST be a republican, sign up to ZH to beat the drums against the government and it's restrictions.... to bitch and moan about all your lost freedoms, then proceed to tell others how to live.  Really, who needs the millions from the lottery when I have the richest entertainment in the world right here watching the Reichwingers heads exploding.

Fri, 03/30/2012 - 23:00 | 2305519 cbxer55
cbxer55's picture

Maybe the poor spend a buck here or there. I rarely ever buy the things myself. I only buy them when the folks I work with do a pool. And only because if they did win, and I was not in on it, wouldn't I be the sorry one?


The Don (trump) bought Two Million dollars worth of the tickets. Go figure. And even then his odds are not that great.

Sat, 03/31/2012 - 00:14 | 2305720 dolph9
dolph9's picture

Alot of idiots where I work were talking about this.

Good people, but idiots.  One thing is for sure, they can have their lottery tickets.  I'll take gold.  If they ever want my gold, they'll be paying alot more than they do for their lotto fix.

Sat, 03/31/2012 - 01:10 | 2305798 Dingleberry
Dingleberry's picture

The term you are seeking is "hopium"

Next question...

Sat, 03/31/2012 - 08:54 | 2306088 theprofromdover
theprofromdover's picture

The State lotteries are a huge scam. They syphon off most of the takings and the prize money is miserly as a %age of the total.

In the UK, they had a thing called national savings bonds, probably still do. You bought some bonds (ie invested in savings) whenever you wanted. Every month they had a draw, and if your bond no. came up, you won money. Some big prizes for the time, and lots of small ones. You never lost your bonds, they were in the next draw etc. The prize money came from giving a slightly lower, but secured interest rate on the bond, and putting the real growth into the prize fund.

That way the lottery organiser wasn't stealing too much, and the punter was taught to save.

Effectively a single prize of $600+ million is ridiculous, but probably intentional. In a real world, the prize fund should be spread more evenly down the list, once it gets beyond (say) $50 million on a rollover. Much better to spread the happiness, and improve the return on the odds at the same time.

Sun, 04/29/2012 - 08:50 | 2383451 savagegoose
savagegoose's picture

the only problem with savings bonds, is it wasnt grams of gold instead of pounds. as if ea bond was a gram. back in 1960 or when ever they started,  and some how , interest was generated, the early purchases would be sitting pretty, even without winning.


Sat, 03/31/2012 - 12:31 | 2306365 develles
develles's picture

I suspect that some of the wins are "fixed".


Sun, 04/29/2012 - 08:43 | 2383448 savagegoose
savagegoose's picture

odds of losing mega millions,  99.999999%

odds of losing state lotto         99.9999%

odds of losing a pick 5            99.999%

odds of losing a 1 in 1000       99.9%

odds of losing a 1 in 100        99%

1 in 10,                                90%

1 in 2                                   50%

 really for the buck, a mega miillion is actually the best game to play. because the odds dont get significantly worse than a 1 in 100 game.


Sun, 04/29/2012 - 08:44 | 2383449 savagegoose
savagegoose's picture



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