From becoming an astronaut to being struck by lightning, there are plenty of bizarre things more likely to happen to you than winning the lottery. Still, this doesn’t stop millions of people around the world continue to play along every week. But if your chances of winning are so small, why do people keep buying tickets? Is it even worth it?
If you’re struggling to make ends meet, perhaps not. One recent report revealed that Americans in the lowest income bracket (under $30,000 per year) spend $412 annually on lottery tickets. In these cases, that money may be better off in a savings account.
That being said, there are still some good reasons to play. With a healthy income and a strict weekly ticket budget, taking part in the lottery can be rewarding in ways beyond holding out for the jackpot.
The odds of winning could be better than you think
Most lottery players are aware that their chances of winning the jackpot are very slim. The odds of winning big on Mega Millions, for example, are 1 in 302,575,350. However, you are far more likely to win if you try your luck at a lottery with a smaller jackpot. The Thunderball draw, for instance, has a top prize of £500,000 (nearly $650,000. Though this is significantly less than most lotteries, the chances of taking home the top prize are 1 in 8,060,598. Your odds will be even better if you’re simply more realistic about the winnings you hope to receive. The probability of winning any prize on the UK Lotto is 1 in 9, for example, which is great news if you just want something to show for taking part.
Another way to boost your likelihood of getting your hands on any money would be to join a lottery syndicate. These are groups where members pool money to buy tickets, splitting any winnings in proportion to how much they contributed to the group. Online platforms are making the process easier, even forming randomly-assigned syndicates to make it easier to get started. With more tickets in play, it also improves everyone’s chances of winning. The National Lottery have stated that 20% of the top prizes across Lotto, EuroMillions, and EuroMillions UK Millionaire Maker are won through a syndicate.
Lottery draws donate to good causes
Though many of us play the lottery in the hopes of bettering our own lives, buying a ticket may also go some way in helping those less fortunate. Most lotteries will donate a portion of all ticket sales to chosen charities, fundraising initiatives, and other life-changing projects.
Every person that’s ever played with the National Lottery has helped raise over £39 billion for more than 535,000 causes, including Samaritans and Resources for Autism. The likes of Your Charity Lottery or People’s Postcode Lottery also offer the opportunity to choose a specific charity to support, guaranteeing that any money will go to causes close to a player’s heart.
Winning is only a small part of playing the lottery
According to a recent study by Vision Critical, one in four Americans plays the lottery without expecting to win. Though you may not know exactly how lottery prize money is given to winners, you’ve probably thought about how you’d spend that cash. Maybe you’d quit your job, or perhaps decide to save or invest the funds. Whatever you’d do, sometimes fantasizing about a life of fortune beyond your wildest dreams is reason enough to spend a small amount on a lottery ticket each week.
No matter whether you win or lose, there’s no denying that it can be lots of fun to play the lottery. You can appreciate the sense of community you get from playing as part of a syndicate, while still enjoying the thrill of knowing you might become a millionaire. Even if you’re not lucky enough to take the jackpot, the dream of any victory can be enjoyable in itself.