Step 1 Toward Greatness: Win Powerball

Dear diary – Last night they had the Powerball drawing and, once again, nobody won, bringing the jackpot to $100 million. Ordinarily I make it a rule not to buy lottery tickets, since the odds of winning are about 750 gezillion-to-1, but with $100 million at stake, I decided, like the Bill Murray character in “Ghostbusters,” that this should be more of a “guideline” than a rule. So I bought a ticket.

Like the lottery ads say, “you can’t win if you don’t play,” and I could use $100 million as much as the next guy.

Today the pot is at $105 million, and growing by the minute.

I keep telling myself that this Powerball frenzy is for fools with impossible dreams. I believe it is better to work for wealth than to gamble for it, but I don’t deny that the dream of winning $105 million is very seductive. So seductive, in fact, that I decided to buy a few more tickets this afternoon… you know, more tickets, better chances.

I still plan on working, even if I win, and in fact, I privately vowed today to work just as hard (if not harder) as a multi-millionaire as I do now…

…I will just take more vacations.

Much of the talk in the office today revolved around the jackpot.  A few of us pooled our money, bought more tickets, and agreed to split the $110 million.

I know this is stupid, but I am obsessed with this thing. I cannot get over the fact that, in one dramatic moment, I could go from being a working stiff to filthy rich. This thought possesses me, almost to the point where I can no longer concentrate on my job. In fact, instead of working today, I closed my office door and spent my productive energy working on Powerball combinations. I have used birthdays, anniversaries, the numbers of my favorite athletes, the number of breaths I take in a minute, and, perhaps most appropriately, the numbers that make up my credit card debt and mortgage.

The midweek drawing is tonight.

Since some states do not participate in Powerball, I have gotten calls from friends asking for tickets. They have all promised that they will send me the money “later” (sure they will), and of course, I told them, if their ticket wins, I will split the jackpot with them (sure I will).

No winners last night, bringing the jackpot to $125 million. I haven’t told my wife this, since I am trying to maintain my “lottery games are a silly waste of money” stance, but I spent much more money over the last four days than I care to admit. True to my former self, I wasted good money on a fruitless dream, and my old, “rational self” would have laughed at such folly.  However, I am now deep into this “folly,” and today I had a serious dilemma – should I stop playing and cut my losses, should I try some new numbers, or should I repurchase all of last week’s combinations and try some new numbers?

The answer was obvious: I repurchased last week’s numbers and bought some new ones, simply because I could not bear the thought of one of my old tickets winning without me owning it.

This Powerball game may bankrupt me.

$140 million!

Call me silly, but I have this strange feeling that something special is about to happen.  Maybe this is what everyone who plays must feel, but I can’t stop thinking that I might win Powerball because I’ve been such a decent, fun guy all of my life.

(Believe me, I would be even more fun if I won.)

Only a few hours to go before the drawing. Will today be my date with destiny?  Will I be the lucky one who gets “struck by lightning” and wins $150 million?

Tomorrow at this time I may be in Paris.

This is very painful to write – I didn’t win.  Somebody else won… somebody else is going to Paris, or some place exotic.  I have to stay home. I know I was stupid to get involved in this hopeless, impossible dream, and I know it was stupid to blow all that money on lottery tickets.

The jackpot has returned to zero, and now I, too, must return to reality… the reality of having to “make my money the old fashioned way.”

(Until, perhaps, next week.)



(This post was originally published in the 10th Edition of The Language of Argument, compiled by Larry Burton and Daniel McDonald, in 2002.  The title of the piece in the book was “Step 1 Toward Greatness: Win Powerball.”)

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