The lottery buzz

Dec. 02, 2012 @ 05:00 AM

Over the last week, gas stations and other retail outlets were buzzing with lottery fever.

Mainly because the Powerball jackpot reached a record $500 million.

In North Carolina, lottery ticket sales soared, giving the North Carolina Education Lottery additional funds to be distributed to schools across the state.

With numbers in mind, here are some interesting numbers to bear in mind the next time that Lottery fever strikes you:

• The total number of tickets sold for the Powerball jackpot has no bearing on the odds of a person winning or not winning. It is not like horse or dog track betting where the number of bets changes the odds.

• According to people who's math is considerable better than the traditional journalist, the odds of winning a Powerball jackpot are in the neighborhood of 1 in 175,000,000.

That all being said, you have a better chance at being struck by lightning or hitting a hole-in-one in a golf game. And that is if the jackpot is one by a single ticket, which we learned Thursday was not the case with this record dollar amount.

Now, if it isn't just the jackpot you are seeking, then your odds become a little bit better.

But, the chance that an individual doesn't win anything on a Powerball ticket is close to 90 percent. In fact, according to a member of The Daily Courier Editorial Board (who is much better at math than most people), a person would have to purchase five lottery tickets to have a 50 percent chance of winning anything.

Now that we have completely rained on everyone's parade, let's get to the point.

We certainly are not discouraging people from playing the lottery, in any form. The recent up-tick of lottery ticket sales did wonders for the North Carolina Education Lottery.

But, it is difficult to justify pouring hard-earned dollars into what is nothing short of a bad investment.

If you are occasionally purchasing lottery tickets for the fun of potentially winning something, we say enjoy.

However, the allure of instant wealth can draw people to spend more than just $2 on a lottery ticket. Before you know it, you have dropped $10, $15, $20 or even more on the slight chance of winning.

And, that can add up.

Figure this: If you purchase five Powerball tickets a week, at $2 per ticket, that comes up to $520 a year. Not much, some would say.

But, for most in Rutherford County, that is rent, an electric bill, school supplies or, groceries.

The point of it all is, have fun playing the lottery and best of luck to everyone who takes part but, be smart about it.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board


The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark