One point five billion dollars.
That is the current, estimated, Powerball value. Imagine that (go ahead, take a moment, I’ll wait…).
Like everyone else, I’ve watched lottery fever grow as the jackpot reached $450 million, and then $880 million. Who can’t imagine winning even a small portion of that jackpot?
Last weekend, on one of my social media feeds, a post popped up from an acquaintance that left me feeling a little, well, judged. The person who’d written the post was essentially saying that playing the lottery is a foolish endeavor and that the only true “winning lottery” is the one you create for yourself through financial planning, sacrifice and saving. They went on to imply that the lottery is more likely a detriment to the lower and middle classes.
While I agree that people should be wise in how they spend and save their money, and I don’t think that anyone should invest large amounts of money in the lottery, I feel that this person, and likeminded others–and I know you’re out there!–overlooked one really important thing: the lottery inspires us to dream.
Dreaming (aka-wishing, hoping, aspiring, striving) is a wonderful ability that humans possess. It allows anyone the opportunity to look beyond the reality of their own existence–be it a fulfilled one or one riddled with heartache–and imagine something different or the chance to better yourself. When you dream, you are filled with joy and optimism, even for the few moments you are engaged in the dream. Correlations have been made between optimistic outlooks and healthier minds, bodies and spirits, so how can that be all bad?
Some people choose to pursue their dreams, but if you don’t dream first, how would you know what it is that you’re in pursuit of or the course of action to take in order to fulfill that dream? Successful artists, scientists, entrepreneurs and athletes throughout the world all started with a dream. Through the success of some people in reaching their dreams, others are then allowed to reach their own. Imagine a successful business owner who now employs hundreds of people, some of whom were previously struggling to make ends meet. Maybe the business owner mentors another dreamer who also becomes a success! It’s a wonderful and fruitful cycle of dreaming and achievement.
Now, can dreaming win you the lottery? No.
Here is what the lottery does offer though, that no other pursuit (aka dream) can: you have as much of a shot at it as anyone else. Everyone who plays the lottery is on an even playing field. The payout won’t go to fastest runner, the most skilled craftsman, a talented songwriter or the most genetically beautiful person who reaches for this dream. Successful financial analysts have the same chance as nurses, ranchers, fry cooks or a person struggling to survive on disability payments. All you have to do is pick six numbers (or let fate chose them for you with a Quick Pick) and buy one ticket. For some people, all it took to realize their dreams was $2-3.