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Why even if you lose, playing Powerball isn't such a bad bet after all

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 17th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Is the $600 million Powerball jackpot worth your investment? According to the Wall Street Journal it isn't, however some may disagree.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Wall Street Journal did the math and concluded that buying a ticket isn't worth the dollar. They provide the breakdown in detail here.

The conclusion is that you're highly unlikely to win, and you're probably going to have to split the jackpot with others. However, the article does admit that the proposal of a dollar for a million is better than many other long-odds bets out there.

From a mathematical perspective, the expenditure of the dollar isn't likely worth it when you consider your odds of winning, the splitting, and the taxes and so on, but we're yet to hear of a jackpot winner that gave up their prize immediately after winning it.

Therein lies the contradiction. Yes, it costs a dollar, but the WSJ article assumes you're buying a chance at the jackpot. In reality, you're not. In reality, you're spending the dollar for a fantasy, but it's the fantasy that makes it worth it.

We spend a lot of money on fantasies. We spend up to $10 on a movie ticket, we spend as much as $80 on a computer or console game. We spend money on alcohol, cable television, par-per-view and more. We buy things we don't need. So what's the harm in spending a dollar on a few minutes worth of fantasy?

For many, the greatest pleasure in playing doesn't come in checking off the winning numbers because you're not likely to see those anyway. It comes it deciding how you'd spend the money if you did win.

The fantasy plays out the same way every time. At first, you tell yourself that you won't let it go to your head. Then there's the part where you quit your job, then the part where you take a vacation. Then you buy a ridiculous home, a new car and so on. Somewhere in there, you hopefully remember to write an oversized check to your church or charity and you help someone in your family that's been struggling. You put your kids through college. You start a business.

These dreams have value, even if they are just that.

Great things have small beginnings. You may spend a dollar on a fantasy, and you will lose that dollar. However, if dreaming big inspires you to greater things in real life, then it's certainly worth the dollar. Moreover, if the ticket provides a momentary distraction from the daily grind, it's probably worth it just for that.

In other words, it's fun, so just enjoy it, even if you don't win.

So WSJ, we at Catholic Online respectfully disagree, with all the caveats about moderation, of course. So spend your dollar, and if you win, remember your family, your Church, and keep reading Catholic Online.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)