Falce: Lottery tickets sell moments of fantasy
How big a house do I really want when I win that $900 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot on Friday?
I mean, do I want something nice and tasteful, or am I looking for something that says “Damn, she won a lot of money!”
I go through this every time the jackpot sneaks up over $300 million, which is my personal threshhold for when I decide to buy a ticket.
I plan vacations. This time, I’m thinking of a trans-Atlantic cruise and a week or so exploring the Alps. Before, it’s been a private island off the coast of Greece or Airbnb-ing a castle in Scotland.
I flip through the pages of my favorite catalogs and shopping sites. I’ll take one of that, one of that. Oh, heck, two of those.
I fantasize about philanthropy. My son’s theater group always makes out well. So does my alma mater. In my head, I become a benefactor to hospitals and charities that fight diseases like cancer and diabetes. I promote economic development and the arts.
I imagine the moments I give things to the people I love. I pay off my mom’s house. I buy my sisters and brother new cars. I set up trusts for my nephews and nieces.
I feel pressure rise off my shoulders as I contemplate living in a world where I don’t have to think about bills. There are no mortgages and everything is automatically deducted without having to think about balances and bottom lines.
And as much as the big ticket items are a kick to explore, it’s that simple lack of worry that means the most.
It’s that momentary rush of relief that prompts me to pull out $2 and hand it over for a shot at the big money.
I rationalize it to myself that I’m not so much gambling as I am making a donation. I might not win, but if I’m giving money that might eventually wend its way into the state’s programs for older Pennsylvanians, well, that’s $2 well spent.
But this is a much simpler transaction. I get more than a one in a trillion shot at being the next guest on “My Lottery Dream Home.” That ticket gets me on board a train to places where having a lot of money means money really doesn’t matter anymore, and at the bargain price of eight quarters, it’s worth more than I pay.
Sure, I could still do the daydreaming without the investment, but then it’s just a fantasy without any possibility of coming true, and it’s that little sliver of possibility that makes it all worth it.
After all, you can’t win if you don’t play.
But I won’t be that sad if my fantasy bubbles pop when the balls are drawn Friday night. After all, I’ve got another shot with Powerball’s $430 million jackpot on Saturday.
Hmm. Maybe I need to buy that castle in Scotland.
Lori Falce is the Tribune-Review Community Engagement Editor.