I didn't win the $640 million Mega Million lottery last week. Of course, I did not buy a ticket either.
Mega Millions mania spread across the country as the prize grew over the days of last week. Hundreds of people lined up in some places just to buy tickets. 3,800,000 tickets per hour were being sold in New York City on Friday afternoon. It was reported that Mexican residents were crossing the border in El Paso to buy tickets in hopes that they would win. What causes folks to go crazy like that?
Well, with $640 million you could buy 600,000 pairs of Christian Louboutin shoes (priced from $500 up). That is enough to wear three different pairs a day for the next 500 years. You could buy 8,000 fully loaded Cadillac Escalades or 167 million gallons of gas at $3.83 per gallon. That sum would buy 640 million dollar hamburgers from a popular fast food chain. That is enough to feed the undernourished population of India two hamburgers each although it isn't likely that Hindus will eat a hamburger.
The jackpot would allow the winner to spend $10,000 every day for the 175 years. A single winner could claim yearly payments or a one-time cash option of $462 million. As an option a winner could choose annual payments of about $24 million before taxes for 26 years.
Of course the odds of winning such an enormous amount of money are astronomical. It is estimated that the chances are 1 in 176 million. Or as California statistician Mike Orkin, puts it: If you buy 50 tickets a week, you will win the jackpot every 68,000 years.
Rookie basketball player, Chris Singleton of the Washington Wizards, said he was going to buy $10,000 worth of tickets.
Why not guarantee you win by buying all possible ticket combinations? Assuming 350 million tickets are sold, there's a better than 90 percent chance that there will be at least two winners. So after taxes, you'll likely come out with a loss. Assuming it takes about five seconds to fill out each card, you'd need five years to mark the bubbles on the game tickets. There goes that plan.
One newspaper columnist said although the lottery has been dubbed the "Stupid Investment of the Week," it could be argued that it should get the title for all time. Lottery players have also been dubbed the "Nation's Biggest Suckers."
Another way to look at this lottery ticket buying frenzy is to view it as a widespread demonstration of faith. Millions of people "believed" they could win the lottery. Multitudes have that same hope as they purchase tickets every day.
This is Holy Week in the Christian Church. A week that began with Palm Sunday as we recalled Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and moves to His crucifixion, death, and burial. Then on next Sunday we celebrate His Resurrection.
Call me crazy but as "impossible" as the Resurrection is, it is far more reasonable to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead than it is to believe that I can win the Mega Millions jackpot. Regardless of how rich the lottery payout, the rewards of believing in the Risen One far outweighs it.
[Taken with permission from "Monday Morning in North Georgia," April 2, 2012. North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.]