Today, for the first time ever, I purchased a Powerball ticket.  Can you believe it?

I have never done so in the past.

Why in the world would I do this, I am asking myself.

Before I get too hard on myself, it is some consolation that millions of other people have done the same thing.

The fact that whoever wins this thing will get a payout of $1.9 billion did get my attention.  However, if you want the payoff in cash it is only $929 million.  Still…this is the largest potential payout in Powerball history.  The actual take home, if you take cash rather than an annuity, is $585 million because Uncle Sam takes 37% of the cash value.  Nevertheless…it is a lot of money.

And, yes, I do have some specific ideas of what I would do with the monies if I was lucky enough to be the winner.

But first, let me tell you about the experience of signing up.  In short, it was a little intimidating.  At least it was for me.   And, I have to be honest, and tell you that I had to ask the woman ahead of me in line if she would not mind instructing me on what to do.  She, bless her heart, said yes, and proceeded to walk me through the steps.

Have you seen the Powerball machine?  It is overwhelming.  Take a look.  There are so many things to look at, so many colors to take in, so many places to push a button or something else.  It is too much for a simple kid like me.

Thank goodness for the lady ahead of me.  She guided me through it.  if I went back right now, just 10 hours later, I would need some help again.

I put in $10.  They have to be in multiples of $2.

The odds of winning are 1 in 292 million!  So why would any person buy a Powerball ticket?

To win you have to get 5 numbers correctly plus one additional Powerball number.  Six in total to get the jackpot.  However, if you get some of the numbers, you win something.  There are in fact 9 different ways to win in Powerball.  On Saturday, November 5th, for example, some 10 million people won prizes between $4 and $2 million.  6 million of the 10 million won $4.  19 people had 5 numbers matched correctly, but did not have the Powerball number.  Each of these won at least $1 million.  238 people had 4 numbers matched correctly.

There is also something called Power Play and Double Play.  I have absolutely no idea what these are.

Powerball is 30 years old and is the biggest lottery in the United States, being played in 44 states and online around the world.  Interestingly, 6 states don’t allow the Powerball lottery and also don’t have any state lotteries either.  These states are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah.

One of the questions that I have is who among us buys lottery tickets.  I was surprised to learn that on an average Americans spend $1,000 a year on lottery tickets.  People who make less than $10,000 spend on average $597 on lottery tickets — about 6 percent of their income.

Many scholars report that the poorest third of Americans buy more than half of all lotto tickets.  If you earn less than $30,000, you will spend on average 13% of your income on lottery tickets.  The lowest 5th socio economic percentile has the highest rate of lottery gambling at 61%.  They also have the highest level of days spent gambling in the past year – 26 days.  In the upper income percentiles only 42% participate and for only 10 days per year.  These numbers change and become similar when the potential jackpot is really high, as it is right now with Powerball.

Men play the lottery 18 days a year on average, while women only play 11 days a year.  70% of 20-30 year old’s buy at least one lottery ticket in a year, while only 45% of seniors over 70 years of age do the same.

1% of US citizens buy lottery ticket every day, while 20% never buy a lottery ticket.  10% buy tickets every week; 13% buy tickets every month; 7% buy tickets yearly.   49% buy tickets inconsistently.

Where does this money go?  In California, for example, some 50% goes to the winners.  34% goes to fund public schools.  Each state decides where they want the proceeds from lottery sales to go.  In California the 34% amounted to $1.9 billion in 2021, which is only 1.5% of the money that California spends on education each year.  It equates to about $200 per student per year.

At 10:59 pm Eastern Time and 7:59 pm Pacific Time tonight we will find out if I am the winner.  Or will we?  10:59/7:59 pm has come and gone.  News reports say that the Powerball results have been delayed because of a “technical problem”.  Stay tuned…

2 thoughts on “Powerball”

  1. Indeed! Lotteries are a hideous tax on stupidity as Voltaire is reputed to have said Fact is it is a tax on the poor and we all should be ashamed of it. The poor spend a higher percentage of their income on it and in so many cases it runs the family short for food etc.. Then food banks are needed and other strife follows.
    In your case it is not at all stupid, but the masses that buy those tickets on a daily basis need help that they are not getting, just the government taking advantage of them.
    Best of luck Neil, I know if you win you will put it to good use. I knew a chap who when he was a child his mother practically needed a porkchop around his neck so his dog would love him. He had no friends, but when he won a million, he had friends and relatives galore that came out of the woodwork like roaches and the total amount was gone in less than a year! Well invested in wine, women, song and new found friends and relatives. Sigh!

  2. Do poor people buy Powerball in desperation? Or do Powerball buyers become poor, due to poor judgment on financial matters.? Sounds like the two are mutually reinforcing.

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