Why You should Never play the lottery!

The appeal of possibly (and I use this word loosely) winning millions of dollars draws many people to spending their hard-earned money on lottery tickets. But just like the staggering sums that you could win, the odds of winning said cash are equally as staggering.

For instance, the Powerball jackpot is currently up to close to $80 million, and not that long ago it was in the hundreds of millions. And just two years ago was the largest jackpot ever at over 1.5 billion dollars!!

But the odds to win the Powerball jackpot are 1 in over 292 million.

Of course there will always be those who are of the opinion that a 1 in any number-odds means that there is still a chance – no matter how miniscule.

So you’re telling me there’s a chance . . .

Which leads me to: Most people don’t understand large numbers!powerball numbers

And yet they keep playing. Obviously the reason that people play the lottery, is the chance to win millions or more and theoretically be set for life. But is spending money on a lottery ticket really a good use of money?

Let me see if I can illustrate how large of a number the odds represent, and how you won’t win. And subsequently how bad of a money decision it is to waste your money buying single chances.

The odds of winning the Powerball:

Imagine that you counted to 1000 one second at a time. It would take you 16 minutes and 40 seconds. I’m sure that none of you really want to spend fifteen minutes of your life just counting. But just bear with me.

Suppose you continue counting to 100,000?

It would take you 27 hours, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds. Think about that number – one hundred thousand – 27 hours. Think of all that happens in 27 hours. Everything that you can do in one day and a few hours. I spent at least 3600 seconds just working on this post.

You know where I’m going with this . . . right? If the odds to win the lottery were 1 in 86,400, it would be like you picking out one second of your day and calling it special. And you only get to pick one.

Pick out one second of your day, and call it special. Every second has a 1:86,400 chance of being picked!! Click To Tweet

Now let’s get to real numbers, because we know the odds of winning the Powerball are much higher than that.

So, if you counted to 292 million, one second at time? How long do you think it would take? This is the part where we don’t understand just how big large numbers really are.

When I asked my boys how long they thought it would take (knowing that 1000 seconds is 16 minutes), I got answers like 2 months or 3 weeks.

So what do you think? Before you scroll down, come up with an answer. No fair – peeking.

Are you ready for this? Take a deep breath . . .








It will take you nine years, and a little more than 3 months!!! NINE YEARS!!

How close were you? Did you do the math or just guess?

Remember how hard it was to pick just one second in your activity-filled day? Can you imagine picking only one second out of the last nine years of your life?!!?! I have kids that haven’t even been alive that long!!you won't win the powerball

When you play the Powerball, you are one of those “seconds”. Do you really think that you will be one of the “seconds” that wins? The math says, NO.

How much do you spend for a “chance”?

You may say, “Well of course I won’t win the big prize or the jackpot. But I could win one of the other prizes.” I researched several games while writing this post. On all of them, the odds to win $1000 or less were about 1 in 1,000,000.

That’s a one in million chance. Did you ever hear that phrase before? “That’s a one in million . . . ” or “They’re one in a million.” That means that you won’t find something or someone like that EVER again, so hang on to it/them. Again, you’re just wasting your money.

A single Powerball ticket costs only $2. And with drawings twice a week, you can bet (see what I did there?) most people who buy tickets play both times.

If you were to take that $4/week and buy something, anything else, at least you’d have something to enjoy instead of just shredding your bills. Like a doughnut or a cup of coffee. And then we could discuss what that coffee habit is costing you.

I could go on about how you’re spending $4/week or $208/year and you should be investing that instead. And how the lottery is simply a tax on the poor, and a tax on the mathematically challenged. But I won’t. And if you’re still playing the Powerball next week . . .


So the question is: Are you willing to spend your hard-earned money on one second out of nine years worth of seconds? Or even a “one in a million” chance?

I’m not.

So the next time you are tempted to buy a lottery ticket at the gas station . . . please don’t, buy a cup of coffee and a doughnut instead. At least you get something that tastes good.

I know the appeal of winning millions of dollars can draw many to play, but remember “easy come, easy go”. Money that comes in a windfall on the scale of winning the lottery usually ends badly.

The key is to learn to be content while you’re getting rich slowly.

What about you? Have you played the lottery? Do you still buy tickets? Let me know in the comments below.

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Chris is the original Cash Dad. He's a father of 3 and a mechanical engineer by trade.


  1. Does that mean I can buy a donut whenever I go into a store that sells lottery tickets? From your perspective it definitely seems like the odds are never in your favor. Love how you made the odds more realistic.

    • Chris Reply

      I wouldn’t necessarily recommend buying a donut either, but if you really must buy something at least make it not a lottery ticket. ?

  2. It’s definitely these little things that nickle and dime us out of our wealth. Many have a rough time fighting these tiny temptations. That’s why I am not a believer of entirely depriving yourself.

    Go ahead and buy that ONE, yearly lottery ticket. 🙂

    • Chris Reply

      One certainly won’t make much of a difference. But I think if you indulge once, you could end spending more. IMO it’s better to not even give yourself an opening.
      Thanks for stopping by. ?

  3. I buy lottery tickets every now and then. I know I will never win the big jackpot, but I think of it as entertainment and I enjoy the anticipation and dreaming of what might be. I once got the first 3 number and freaked out a little inside…but then missed the rest and won next to nothing. To me, it’s gambling and entertainment, just like going to Vegas.

    I’ve switched games now and play the $10 scratchers instead of Powerball. The odds are much better and overall they pay back more often. The most I’ve won on one ticket is $100, but I regularly win $10 or $20. The odds to win $1M is 1 in 1.2 million, $1,000 is 1 in 15,000 and $100 is 1 in 93.

    What is interesting about the lottery is that some view it as a regressive tax since a disproportionate amount of the tickets are purchased by people with very low incomes.

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