Why I Play the Lottery

My wife and I will do just about anything for each other. We have a great relationship and complement each other’s strengths. I fold the laundry. She puts it away. I do the grocery shopping. She puts the groceries away. I clean the bathrooms while she does the floors.

I know that I can ask my wife to run almost any errand and she will cheerfully tell me that she will be happy to do so. There is only one thing that I can ask my wife to do that will cause her to look troubled and to tell me that she won’t do it for me. She will not buy my lottery tickets. More than that, she will not buy my lottery tickets and she will tell me thats because only losers buy lottery tickets — I am a loser when I buy them!

Now, I truly value my wife’s opinion. More often than not, if my wife takes the time to express an opinion, she is usually “spot on” in her assessment. Nevertheless, despite my wife’s views on the subject, I still go to the grocery store twice per week to buy my Florida Lotto tickets.

I am sure many of my readers share my wife’s view. Whether I spend $1 per week or $5 per week, chances are very good that I am voluntarily giving money to the State of Florida. The odds of winning are not huge and over time — about 24 years since I started playing the lottery — that weekly payment adds up.

I know that I probably won’t win — but I might. It is worth a few dollars a week to sustain that hope of winning a jackpot big enough to allow me to retire or to allow me to do more. It is worth a couple of trips to the store each week, just so that maybe, I can someday win enough money to give my wife all of the things that I want to give her, but cannot.

It’s not that I am not successful. I have been quite successful over the past several years. Unfortunately, I have also seen that there are not too many people my age who “hit the jackpot” at work and can walk away with fabulous wealth. I am in my 40’s, and that usually means that if I have not hit the jackpot yet, and I cannot see a jackpot on the immediate horizon, I am going to need a little bit of luck to realize all of the goals that I set for myself when I was getting out of college in the 1980’s.

My wife, wise woman that she is, views my perspective on being too old to earn fabulous money by working as both ridiculous and depressing. From her perspective, we make our own fortunes and we are never too old to make it “big.” I don’t completely disagree with her. At the same time, I like to think that by playing my numbers week after week and year after year, I am making my own luck. If I never win, I can console myself that my lottery payments are a voluntary contribution to the school budgets of the state of Florida. If I do win, I am pretty sure my wife will stop considering the lottery as a game for losers.

What do you think? Do you play the lottery? Do you think you play it too much? Have you ever won? Or do you share my wife’s view and think that the lottery is for losers?

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31 Responses to Why I Play the Lottery

  1. Traciatim says:

    I very rarely purchase a lottery ticket. Sometimes I give them as presents when i would otherwise just get a card, and I play in a lottery pool at work with 12 people who purchase a group of tickets in the hopes that we win big and can all retire. I more play for the thought of winning rather than the winning itself since i know the odds of winning are really low. Though every once in a while the peopel taht play at work all end up discussing what they will do when we win, and it’s always fun to think about. You can’t win if you don’t play, and who cares about a couple of bucks a week anyway for a small chance and fun conversation.

  2. Lisa says:

    I buy lottery tickets when the jackpot is over 100 million. It is, for me, a cheap form of entertainment. Its only 1 or 2 dollars a week a few times a year. It costs less than the movies, bowling and many hobbies that cost many hundreds or thousands of dollars. I can dream and who knows I could hit it big, though I’m not counting on it.

  3. M E 2 says:

    Ditto to what Lisa said, more or less. 🙂

  4. Joan.of.the.Arch says:

    Never play. Does not even have entertainment value for me. Boring.If I were to gamble, it would be on a game in which skill comes into play.

  5. ~Dawn says:

    I hate the idea of tossing money down the drain on the lottery but my SO feels that even if she doesn’t win some of that money will go to the parks, roads, etc.

    To her the hope of winning is worth the money lost. Btw, I won’t buy the tickets for her, she has to buy her own.

  6. ceejay74 says:

    We play occasionally. Scratch-offs are kinda fun too. But not really worth the money to us, so we don’t do it very often.

    I play slots very occasionally (like 15 times in my life, and 10 were during one trip to Vegas), but when I do I walk in with the amount I’m willing to lose in cash, and if I lose it, I’m done. If I break even and get tired of it, I walk away with the money. Penny slots only; the money lasts longer that way! 🙂

    Entertainment is entertainment, as long as it doesn’t get out of control I think it’s totally fine. All entertainment is a waste of money, except that it makes life more fun, and that’s one of the most important things there is.

  7. xavierv says:

    I love the lottery. I am probably a heavier player than you.

    I get lucky sometimes (hit $2,000 once). For me, playing the lottery is like paying to keep your dreams alive.

    In a world where opportunities are greatly advertised, but where few actually hit the jackpot as you say, it is a heartwarming feeling to know that you have a chance to not worry about money (and comfort) ever again.

  8. Texas Girl says:

    Next time you’re in line to buy your lottery tickets, look at the guy in front of you buying lottery tickets. Is he a loser?? Dirty? Smelly? Throwing away his family’s milk money on one desperate chance at millions he will NEVER win?

    So does that answer your question?

  9. Bobbi says:

    I live in Fl too and play very occasionally. I used to be a faithful player every week, twice a week. Now, I do not even think about it really. My life has change a lot in the last 8 months though.

  10. Pat MaGroine :0) says:

    I know several people personally that have won the lottery, two have even won more than once. All of them were of considerable amounts; I’m talking about million$ of dollar$ here, not just 50 or 75 grand. They all still work, live in one nice home (only slightly above average, but nothing spectacular), and they have helped their families such as their children with college educations, etc. Most people aren’t aware that they are millionares because they have gone on with their life just the same as normal.
    I personally don’t play but my SO does once in awhile when the memory is turned on and reminds to buy a ticket. Sometimes, once-inna-blue- moon, I will remind to grab one (or some) when filling up the car’s gas tank, but that’s hardly ever. I mostly consider it a contribution and a donation to help the state with funding projects.
    By the way, we NEVER spend over $2.00-$3.00 on tickets!

  11. catmom says:

    I think your wife needs to lighten up! You certainly use it with moderation. It reminds me of two stories though. One, my late uncle was a GREAT lover of gambling. My aunt held him in check for thirty years. Once she passed on, he went full tilt. His last decade was spent playing bingo from sunup til past sundown. It seemed like a very tragic waste of ones “golden years”. Then again, it was his money.

    I also worked briefly for a senior center. Of all the activities there, bingo was the big hit. People playing every minute that it was held, then coming in on the off days for a voucher for the state to pay their light bill.

    Your wife should be thankful she doesn’t have THESE problems!

  12. Ann says:

    I’m hit and miss on the lottery ticket thing. It’s fun to think of what I would do, if I hit, so it’s relatively cheap etertainment. LOL ‘Course, I generally don’t get around to checking whether or not I won anything for a month or two! I got a real kick out of winning $25.50 on a lotto ticket here — figured the winnings paid for just about the number of tickets I buy in a year.

  13. DRS says:

    I play $10 a drawing here in Arizona, and there are two drawings a week. I can afford the $80 a month since I cut back on my Vegas trips significantly. I also hold out the hope of hitting it big one day and retiring. It’s a nice distraction to check the numbers when I get that e-mail from the lottery service twice a week. I won $100 last month (the most in the three years I have lived in Arizona), and won $1,700 in Illinois a couple decades ago. I know the odds make it more likely I will get hit by lightning (twice!), but it’s a nice day dream none the less.

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  15. ~Dawn says:

    In regards to comment #9

    I couldn’t read that comment without responding.

    I think that is the most negative and narrow-minded comment that says more about yourself than the person buying the ticket.

    The fact that you judge ANYBODY by appearances is very sad. Not only are you missing the chance to get to know some wonderful people but when you pigeonhole people you don’t give them a chance.

    Please reconsider your views on people and I believe you will find a wonderful world of beautiful people.

  16. ThiNg says:

    I take the same $5 a week a buy a pre-packed bag of groceries to donate to the food bank. ALL of the money goes to people who need it. And after ’24 years’ of ‘not winning’ I will have helped so many people that I will be happier than winning a million bucks!!

    And if there is God, giving to others makes the chances of winning the ‘big lottery’ even better!

  17. Dr. Sardonic says:

    @~Dawn: I’m afraid I’m sympathetic to Texas Girl’s POV. I suppose it’s one thing to be fairly well off, and buy the occasional lottery ticket for entertainment value. But I live in the Big City, and it seems to me that the great bulk of tickets are sold to very poor people who buy stacks of them at a time. I know, because I have to wait behind them in with annoying regularity at every bodega and smoke shop in town. Some day, I’m going to just ask them to give the money to me directly, since the odds of winning the big payout are less than being struck by lightening. Some day

  18. I play for exactly the same reason! I have played the same numbers ever since Texas started the lottery.
    I spend 20 a month on a retiree’s fixed income because twice a week I have hope of maybe improving our lives. we have more than enough and live comfortabley. but it would be so nice to even win a little extra, the lottery gives me hope.

  19. Susan says:

    I used to play sporadically until 4 of the numbers that I always play showed up on a winning ticket. I would have won $150 if I had played. The dreams of winning big are fun, I don’t expect it, but hey! it’s now worth the 4 bucks a week, 208 a year just for the fantasy.

  20. Susan says:

    Texas Girl, I’m a Texas Girl too and I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that someone who is dirty and smelly is a loser and is blowing the food budget on a few lottery tickets. Lots of hard working people with integrity actually perform physical labor on a daily basis to meet their family’s needs. I know there are some who might play carelessly but for the most part, I believe a few bucks a week give many hope. They may not win the pot but that doesn’t make them losers.

  21. Gail says:

    I can’t believe that people waste their money and in some case what I’ve read here up to $80 a month to hopefully make life better. That is almost a thousand a year. Think of what that money could be doing if invested over time.

    I used to work with a girl that went gambling up to Canada every chance she got. She was always happy to tell us about her comped rooms, blah blah but we never heard anything about the many weekends she went up there and ended in the hole. This same girl had problems with her finances, could never understand how I made ends meet on less money than she made (she also got around $400 month child support but otherwise we made the same incomes) yet she blew money left and right and always had an excuse for why she spent it. Incidently she then went bankrupt and then borrowed her sisters credit card to start doing it all over.

    The point being that gamblers always have an excuse for what they are doing. If your wife doesn’t gamble and you do, be sure you are giving her the exact same amount you are throwing away so she can do something fun with it, like save it for a rainy day.

  22. catmom says:

    Not sure if you knew about this place or not. I’ve been hanging around this website for months and just recently realized this was even there! Your wife won’t object…it’s free!


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  24. Sharon says:

    My fiance’s lottery ticket buying is ruining our relationship. I recently relocated from another state so that we can start our life together and right now I am living off my savings. My fiance plays 2-3 numbers (at least 2 ways) daily which is about $6-8 a day! He also buys about 3 scatchoffs at $2 a piece. Out of the 3 scratchoffs he only wins about $2. As long as he has money in his pocket he will play (daily). I have asked him to stop playing the numbers as I have not found a job yet and money is slowly dwindling. He played yesterday when I asked him not to. This money is going out the window. I feel like even if I do find a job I need to go back home. I see this as a gambling addiction now as he is taking a chance on me leaving. I told him when my funds run low I have to go back home. I am a great saver and very good with money and this may not work.

  25. Gail says:

    Sharon, Get out while the getting is good, before you are pregnant and feel like you need to stay with this loser. You didn’t mention where his gambling money was coming from, are you supporting him? If he is gambling with his own money that he has earned, you have no right to be telling him not to, you are not his wife and he has NO legal obligation to you. If however he is using your money and your savings to do this, shut your purse now. Quit supporting him completely. Leave. If he is your finance, he needs to be thinking of what his responsibility will be as a husband and start living that life and that includes a job and not wasting money.

    Do I gamble? NO. But I see the effects of gambling in my state. Last week I was surprised by a totally unexpected check for $500 as a property tax rebate for old and disabled people in my state. Just imagine how many old and disabled people can be in one state and how many of them got these checks all from the procedes of gambling. We thank you, but I would be just as happy to not see people ruining their’s and the ones they supposedly love by gambling.

    Our newspaper the other day had two major articles. One on the horrible unemployment numbers and the other on the record high slots income from the last weekend–we are talking about $50 million!!! I’m having a hard time thinking of how with so many without work and having trouble makings ends meet that people still have money for gambling. It is nuts.

    Sharon, I wish you the best and that doesn’t necessarily include your guy. Plenty of guys out there with the common sense to use their money in sensible ways, and even if you can’t find them, much better to be single than deal with a spendaholic the rest of your life because even if you leave them, what you lost financially in the years you were with them will always haunt you.

  26. DRS says:

    I’m surprised at how personal this blog entry about lottery spending turned. I was caught off guard by the heartfelt and somwhat desperate post of Sharon. I cannot fully understand her position, as no one can reading a short written blurb. But I would urge her to seek the counsel of family, and not so much advice this forum.

    We are all in different places financially, and those places are changing daily. We have not seen economic numbers like these since the days of WWII.

    I – and others – make substantial salaries, and are contributed to by spouses with equal contributions. $10 a week on the lottery does not impact our lives, our charitable giving, our children’s education or our ability to put food on the table.

    But today, there are so many who are less fortunate than that. Hard working, good souls who simply are caught up in the wave of unfortune circumstances (my kind way of describing the wool we allowed to be pulled over our eyes) this country is experiencing.

    If $10 a day, or week, is critical to your family unit, then no, lottery tickets are an extravagance. I can only hope Sharon shares the comments here with her boyfriend, and they hit home. I wouldn’t dare presume to know her situation and advise her to take drastic actions – like leaving him.

    Advice and counsel…words and actions we can all live by.
    Sharon, best of luck. Consult your family, get sonme solid advice. Reach out. God bless.

  27. Gail says:

    David, Yes sometimes posts like this turn personal, but as I read the heartfelt cry for help I couldn’t do less that respond as I did. She was asking us for help as people she could trust. That is what the internet is about these days. She herself suggested that she might leave and sounded like she wanted confirmation from someone that this out of control gambling, from her point of view, was a sufficient reason. As someone who had two very unfortunate marriages in the past, that I suffered through (one husband had gotten us in over $40K cc debt), I just can’t see not giving words of advice that could prevent her years of anguish. It is one thing for people to buy a few lottery tickets and just think of it as entertaining, but it grows to be a horrible monster in some people’s lives.

    Would I have given the same advice if they were married? No. I would have truly advised marriage and financial counseling. Money breaks up more marriages than anything, and couples that are already not seeing eye to eye and where one has a gambling addiction should being willing to leave or decide that this is something they can live with.

  28. Sharon says:

    Thanks for the good responses to my post. I did get kind of personal so I guess this blog caught me on the wrong day, LOL. To answer Gail’s response (& thank you)I am not supporting him at all..he has a good paying job. We do have specific things that we both pay for. I guess I don’t have the right to tell him what to do with his money, but when he blows all the extra money he has on lottery tickets and I have to come out of my pocketbook to pick up the extra slack for extra household needs when I have already done my part, thats a problem to me. When the roof needs to be fixed and there is broken appliances needing to be repaired, losing $200-300 per month on lottery tickets is a problem I see for our future.

  29. Dheeraj Balani says:

    I think its ok to play the lottery once a week or every now and then. Just as long as you dont overdo it. I usually play about 3 bucks a week and more recently with a coworker to increase my chances. The odds are very rare that you will win but they do happen. Since they do happen why not just play. Its fun and does not cost a lot. What is a few bucks a week really worth in the long term. how is that different than buying fast food once a week. At least here your supporting education (they say) well at least it sounds nice. Just play and pray. one day your luck can change. People have won so its not like your playing something that no one has ever won.

  30. mishy28 says:

    I think its fun, why not..sure you may never win but it helps you dream, me and my husband have actually got into arguments about what we would do with the money, then we start hysterically laughing. It makes you examine your values and whats important – would you give some to your family and friends where would you go? etc… we all spend more then this in starbucks thats how I figure it, once less coffee a week to maybe win and dream a little 🙂

  31. rose says:

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with playing the lottery as long as you view it as entertainment and not a way to make money.

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