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Lottery

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The pot was $40 million or something yesterday. So for the first time ever, I bought a lottery ticket.

It actually wasn’t for me, it was for a friend. Yeah I know what you’re thinking, but it’s true.

The awkwardness you have when you’re first buying a lottery ticket is akin to when you first go into a pharmacy for condoms. You don’t quite know what the protocol should be. You let them know it isn’t for you. Etc.

“Do you want Extra?” “Ugh, I don’t know. I don’t think so. This isn’t for me.”

So he goes “ok,” and as he hands me my numbers, for the first time, I feel it.

The whole thing happens in seconds. First, I feel this rush like “oh man, I could actually win this thing!”

Then I picture myself not winning, and the disappointment that follows. I imagine myself going “ah, what’s the harm?” and buying another one next week. And another. Etc.

And then, going even further forward in time, I imagine myself having to give up the lottery ticket buying and the feeling that accompanies it. “Oh man, no chance to win this week. Too bad, I guess.”

It’s at this time that I realize that I can never buy lottery tickets ever again.

That little rush that comes with getting tickets; the anticipation; starting the feeling over again next week. Everything. I feel it.

One time I was playing a Nintendo DS game– I think it was a Final Fantasy game– when I ended up in a casino location inside the game. I go “meh, what the hell,” and I play a few times. I win.

“Wow,” I think. “Ok, I’ll go on a little more.” And I proceed to continue to play the game, the game inside the game that is, for about 3 hours. Next thing I know it’s about 4am and I’ve been losing, pretty much non-stop.

But I’m convinced I can get it back. CONVINCED.

Even crazier, right at that moment, at 4am, inside the Final Fantasy casino, I’m convinced that winning it back matters.

Crazy.

* Filed by Julien at 4:06 pm under random


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

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18 Responses to “Lottery”

  1. Jeroen Says:

    I had somewhat the same experience, only with some classmates.
    We had a few hours to kill so went to a store which sells all kinds of things, office supplies, cigarettes and the like. They also sold those games that you can win money with if you got the rigth combination of symbols or numbers.
    So together we buy a few games, 2 classmates win some I get nothing. But seeing them winning I want to win too so we all buy extra cards. They buy from their won money and me and another guy from our own. This time I won some and the same two others did too. and the cycle repeats (we were with 4 people).
    In the end I lost around 25 euros and while its not much money I won’t buy those things ever again. for the same reasons you do, also jealousy at other people winning doesn’t help. (being a bit competitive didn’t help either ^^)

  2. Tash Says:

    Good to hear someone agrees with me! I can feels like my boyfriend and I are the only people I know who are against buying lottery tickets. From Australia we’re luckier than a whole lot of other people in the world already, good jobs, great lifestyle, if we won it would be a case of mo money mo problems. My time and money is better spent trying to make the world a better place, and working through solutions to things that are making us unhappy. I don’t think winning the lottery is the quick fix to problems that people hope for.

  3. heathrvb Says:

    beautiful and well said.

  4. Luke Says:

    I couldn’t stop giggling at the thought of a man sat in his living room in the dark, in nothing but his boxer shorts, engulfed in a tiny DS screen, shouting ‘I can get it back, I can get it back.’

    It’s a good post though. I agree. The reason I don’t gamble is because I know that once I start I’m not going to trust myself to stop. It’s an addictive thing.

  5. Susan Cooper Says:

    I love this. It is exactly how I react when I buy the occasional lottery licket. It’s easy to see why some become addicted to gambling. That rush of a feeling “I could be a winner”. Is very strong. Well said. :)

  6. Gloria Lucia Closset Says:

    I Know Your Feeling !!

  7. Mary E. Ulrich Says:

    In OHio, they promote the lottery by telling us you are helping education. Then some people don’t feel the need to vote for school levys… because, hey, they are supporting the schools by buying lottery tickets.

  8. Anon Says:

    Reminds of how I got into drugs… always chasing the next “jackpot” of great high. I’m so glad I was able to break out of that lifestyle.

  9. Tim Says:

    Thank goodness you weren’t at the Golden Saucer. That could’ve lasted all day.

  10. Mina Says:

    This post is all kinds of awesomeness ” Even crazier – I’m convinced that winning it back matters.”

  11. Jo-Anne Says:

    I get my lottery tickets each Friday, have I ever won big no but I have had many small wins and have had a couple of $1000 wins and that made me happy………

  12. Tony Says:

    Interesting post that makes me reflect on how I grew up in a lottery engrossed family. A large part of my families estimated income (mroe like loss) was based on lottery. To this day my family still beleives this to be true that if you are not playing lottery you are not getting ahead. So much so that they have compposition books with numbers that date back to when I was born over 30 years ago. They call it workouts. There are a series of calculations based on the day & how many years & days have past since the number last was a winner. The ‘workout’ process takes an hour or so a day. Then family members call each other & swap & discuss the numbers they’ve come up with for the day. Sick I know… They hate when I come around because I only need to calculate two numbers to prove the wasted time. Profit and loss. ROI is a curse word to my gambling addicted family members. And when I challenge them to use a spreasheet program instead of notebooks to cut their hours of ignorance down to seconds, they get pipping mad. What a waste… Outdated record keeping practices, plus wasted time, plus no clue of ROI, plus no money to show for many winnings over the years equals a bag of stupidity. Poor is a mentality.

  13. danielle Says:

    this is very thought inspiring… and i can relate because i have never bought a lottery ticket for myself, but have purchased them for others. it’s crazy for me to watch other people tweek out over the chance of winning. it doesn’t vibe with me, i suppose if i’m meant to have that amount of money, it will happen via another way. i have a very addictive and obsessive personality and know that if i drank from the lottery kool-aid, i risk not stopping.

  14. Bryan Says:

    I’m reading the book “The Willpower Instinct” right now and the chapter I am in the middle of is “Why We Mistake Wanting for Happiness” and deals with the effects of dopamine on people. I thought this part from the book fit nicely with your post:

    “The promise of reward is so powerful that we continue to pursue things that don’t make us happy, and consume things that bring us more misery than satisfaction. Because the pursuit of reward is dopamine’s main goal, it is never going to give you a ‘stop’ signal-even when the experience does not live up to the promise.”

  15. Neill from GTR Says:

    It’s more than that.

    The very subtle act of wanting to rely on luck to create the life you want.

    It’s the thin end of a wedge. Thoughts like ‘What if?’, lead to ‘If only’ which lead to ‘I wish’ etc.

    Not a good road to travel down.

  16. Natalie Says:

    Hi Julien!

    I’m really liking your blog posts lately–they’re so much more personal, and the life lessons that you share with them really stick with me.

    Pretty fitting, especially since I went to Las Vegas for the first time last weekend. For the fun of it, I decided to dabble at the casino one night. When I dropped a few bucks and won nothing, I was so relieved– I was genuinely happy that I hadn’t won anything, or else I would have gotten stuck long term! Winning a little bit at a time really grabs your attention– the addiction only gets stronger from that. Crazy stuff.

  17. W.R. Says:

    How fascinating that you should write this post now of all times in my life. I experienced this very same self-observation past Saturday…my father had bought his first lotto ticket in several years for a large lotto event that evening 9one I hadn’t heard of until that point) and showed it to me when he came to dinner. I had that very same sensation of noticing the build up “Oh wow – just think – what if? – we really could win!” and I observed this sudden rush of hope as I was holding that ticket…and I did not like it one bit. I’m not a gambler, I don’t like the empty sense of hope that if the stars align and the magic fox sneezes at precisely the right moment I could win something to change my life forever. Funnily enough, the idea of a momentous change being thrust upon me and not earnt gave me a little insight into the kind of person I am and what I will and won’t do to get the life I want.

  18. Maša Says:

    I can’t get why some people buy lottery tickets. Not that I want to judge anyone, but I just find it so illogical.

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