Friday’s Mega Millions jackpot is $476 million. $476 million is a ridiculous sum, more than the GDP of many small countries (though much smaller than Marc Zuckerberg’s worth). And the tickets are only one dollar, which means that almost everyone can have a slice of the fantasy, even if it’s only a thin one.
A really thin one. The odds of winning are estimated at nearly one in 176 million. To put this in perspective, your odds of dying in a plane crash are supposedly one in 29 million, and those odds are small enough to put out of our minds entirely. But if you think about it as buying a fantasy, then it’s not so bad.
When I’m fantasizing about a life-changing liquidity event I usually try to cap it off around $20 million, because I think on some level limiting my imagination helps me stay in good standings with the powers that be. But this jackpot pretty much forces me to break my rule. I’m imagining vacation homes, unlimited new Jeffrey Campbell shoes, trips to Japan, and, of course, a few magnanimous gestures of charity to win the respect of those who originally resent my unearned fortune.
I’m not totally clear on how lotteries work, but I’d think anyone with an extra $176 million would do well to buy one of every number combination. For the rest of us, the odds are definitely not “ever in our favor.” But good luck anyway. And have fun with the fantasies.