America has a problem with the lottery. Every year, the US spends billions of dollars on false hope and wishes to win exorbitant sums of money. This year, it was only worse. With the
Powerball lottery at 1.6 billion dollars, hordes of people swarmed to stores and bought these tickets. They knew the chances were low– one in 292.2 million, according to the New York Times. But those odds did not stop anyone. So, why do people spend their money on lottery tickets like the Powerball, and do they get anything out of it?
According to psychology, the reason we fall prey to situations like buying the lottery with such low chances may be something called “FOMO”, or fear of missing out. This is a mental state in which, as the name suggests, one is afraid of missing out in an experience. When that new iPhone model comes out, most people feel the push to buy one as well, just because everyone else has one. In the same way, when everyone seems to be getting those Powerball tickets, one might feel pressure to get a few of their own.
Camille Hoge, a high school junior whose family bought 5 tickets, agrees, saying,“I ended up buying tickets just because everyone else did– I wasted my money.”
Like Hoge, even weeks after the Powerball winners were announced, many still have not let go of the fact that this was a lost opportunity. However, unless an exorbitant number of tickets was bought, the money may have not been a complete waste. Although it may seem like money down the drain, it’s important to remember to think outside of the box. As Wall Street Journal notes, buying Powerball tickets may be something similar to a trip to a casino. At the casino, playing at the slots or tables will most likely empty pockets, but the exciting experience is what makes the trip enjoyable. Most people go because they know they know they will enjoy their time there, and not necessarily because they might come home with more money. Likewise, it’s not just the results of the lottery that determine what one gets out of their investment, but the excitement and emotion that is experienced when an individual decides to take part in the lottery itself. The experience of buying tickets, thinking about what one might do with the money, and having interesting conversations over the topic with friends is what truly makes things like the Powerball worthwhile.
Many of the millions of people in America who didn’t gain anything from the Powerball may have been green with envy ever since the winners were announced. However, they don’t have to feel so bad anymore about not beating the odds. The winners may have that $533 million– but the best things in life are free. Everyone has all gotten something out of the Powerball, whether it’s money or just a good experience. So, in a sense, everybody’s a winner.