Buying Lottery Tickets Reflecting on the Behavior of those who Play the Lottery

If you have ever worked in a gas station you have met them, people who come in every day and buy as many lottery tickets as they can afford. Even when you simply stand in line you see them. Often covered in grease from a hard day’s work they pick up a beer, a newspaper and a lottery ticket.

Ask them if they think they are going to win and you’ll get answers such as someone has to win, or what else am I going to do with my money. This is why the lottery is often referred to as a tax on those who can’t do math.

What are people really buying when they buy a lottery ticket though, and why do these hard working people spend their money on something that is so hopeless when putting that same money into a savings account could speed up their retirement by years?

What you must understand to understand those who buy the lottery is that they aren’t buying a chance to win money. That is only a byproduct. Instead, they are spending their money to buy hope. They work hard at their jobs and the idea that suddenly, in seconds they could be rich. They could go into their bosses office and tell him to shove it, they could buy the car and home they have always wanted and live the good life.

Again ask them what they would do with the money and you can see this more clearly. Most of them have thought it out quite a bit. They know exactly what they would buy, who they would give money too and even who they would harm. This has given them something to hold onto so that going to work isn’t so bad.

This doesn’t mean that these are all hopeless people without the lottery, but far too many of them have given up on their dream or never really had one to begin with and so they have bought into a new dream. An idea that with enough money and enough leisure time they can be happy. That if they simply win the lottery their problems will go away. This is why even when presented with the understanding of the effect that those few dollars a day could have on their retirement so few of them are willing to give up on it. This has become their dream and they won’t give up on it until there is another dream to fill it.

So the next time you are in a gas station and you see one of those guys who buys a lottery ticket remember that he probably knows better than you how unlikely it is that he will win, but he understands that spending a dollar for a hope in a dream isn’t a bad deal, and give the man a break.