The Powerball in MN is up to a prize of $580 million dollars, or a $380 million lump sum. When it gets this high everyone gets really excited to buy tickets. Then you have the “smart people” who make fun of people who buy Powerball tickets.

They say things like this:

  • “The lottery is a tax only on stupid people.”
  • “Playing the lottery is like throwing money away.”
  • “You are more likely to get hit by lightning than win the lottery!”

Which am I? I am the guy who makes fun of the people who make fun of the people who buy Powerball tickets.

I will confirm that it is true, you will probably live your entire life and never win the lottery. HOWEVER is it actually a bad bet? Well according to your odds of winning the Powerball jackpot is 1:175,000,000 and you stand to win some portion of $380,000,000. Guys, that isn’t a bad bet. Even considering you split it, even four ways, you stand to win $95 mil, I have seen people make dumber bets when they rent a movie they aren’t sure about. Ok sure, taxes right? Alright lets just say you get only 50% of the pool. $180 million whatever. Still positive expected value!

Also consider that going from 0 tickets to 1 ticket increases your chance to win by HUGE (infinite?) margin. Consider that winning the Powerball will give you so much money you will never need to do anything ever again. Is that worth $1 to you? Even if your odds are 1:175million. The answer should be yes, unless you are a moron. Or unless $1 is actually very important to you. In which case you should do the responsible thing and spend it on rice.

Want to know something else cool about Powerball? If you buy a ticket every single day for your entire life and you live to be 80, you would have spent $30,000 on Powerball. But if you hit you will win $180,000,000 or more! It’s a classic lose small win huge opportunity. This is the kind of bet you dream of.

So who is really the stupid one?

I need to go buy a ticket.