As usual when the lottery gets to mega-jackpots, hosts of articles come out telling people how dumb they are to play the lottery. These articles overwhelmingly rely on statistical comparisons like “you’re more likely to get struck by lightning than win the lottery,” as though statistics prove anything (they don’t; statistics merely describe history, and thinking they predict the future is the gambler’s fallacy.)
A lottery line in Utah, America. Haha they don’t understand economics! *asks Mom for another lemonade, gets back to Gawker post.*
Nevertheless, insulting people who like to play the lottery by calling them dumb, as this Gawker article does (either overtly or subtly) is a sport among the somewhat-idle riche who play at being writers while receiving checks from their parents to subsidize their Manhattan rent. It is, like saying you don’t watch TV or wearing a Bernie pin, a pastime engaged in by people who are not serious themselves but want to think they are.
Should you play the lottery? Yes. Not playing it won’t make you any better off, economically speaking, while playing it might make you a billionaire, or get you at least halfway there -- after the tax policies that overwhelmingly favor the rich in our country take a (relatively speaking) inconsequential portion of the proceeds.
Here are some statistics about the lottery and the people who play it, as well as young people in Manhattan who make fun of them, and, finally, why playing the lottery is every bit as likely to make you rich, statistically speaking, as simply being alive in America, by which I mean: it’s probably the best shot most of us have at getting rich.
1. 1 in 25 low income kids is likely to get a college degree. That same study found that only about 5% of kids are likely to move up an income bracket, at all. Since about 4,000,000 babies are born in America each year (babies eventually become kids), you have a 1 in 400 chance of simply getting a college degree, and a 1-in-200,000 chance of moving up an income bracket above what your parents earned.
2. The people most likely to play the lottery are people in their 20s and 30s. More whites than blacks play the lottery. Statistically speaking -- and people who make fun of those who play the lottery love to play up statistics! -- statistically speaking, young white people are the most likely to play the lottery.
3. Gawker media is 79% white. They also are in their 20s and 30s, mostly.
4. Statistically speaking, Gawker media writers play the lottery. STATISTICS NEVER LIE.
5. Most people gamble, on average, about 1-2% of their income on lotteries. This means most people, on average, gamble about $470 a year on lotteries. If you invested $470 a year over twenty years and achieved average growth of about 4.1%, you would have about $14,000 in that fund after 20 years. This is pre-tax growth.
6. In other words, investing that money ain’t gonna make the poors rich. At best, the average lottery player would be marginally better off 20 years later.
7. For all their snobbery, those young white well-off Gawker media types with their English Lit degrees aren’t much more economically sophisticated than the poors they routinely make fun of about the lottery (which, statistically, young white people are more likely to play!) Those young white folks are not as good at wealth-building as their parents, but the young white folks are moving back home to sponge off their parents anyway, which no doubt gives them the idle time to write snarky articles about how dumb people are to play the lottery.
Go ahead. Play the lottery. I doubt people who play it bother reading Gawker and the like, and anyway statistics say that the Gawker people who write nasty articles about the stupid poor people are sneaking out of their parent’s houses to buy lottery tickets, too.
Maybe instead of making fun of people who play the lottery, rich white kids who like to look down on the poor who don’t have college educations could do something constructive like propose “no-lose lottery” savings accounts, or actually go work for Bernie, or maybe just get up off their lazy, snarky butts and go vote for a change .
Pictured: Gawker Media staff, who statistically speaking live at home and buy more lottery tickets than anyone else. Also, they probably watch a lot more TV than they are willing to admit. It’s cool, trust them.