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More Americans are Buying Lotto Tickets, Should You?

With unemployment rates at a standstill and the economy still withering, one financial sector just had a banner year: lottery tickets. According to USA Today, 41 state lotteries saw a sales increase from the last fiscal year, with 17 states recording record-high ticket sales. A 2004 Cornell University study purports that people are more inclined to purchase lotto tickets when the economy is bad. This study is flawed, however, as it does not account for this really good feeling we have about 5 16 8 39 6 and 12 for the Mega Millions.

The lottery has been dubbed a "tax on the poor": "Multiple studies of state lotteries have found that those with low incomes spend a higher percentage of their income on lottery tickets than wealthier individuals." Again, these studies did not take into account that time we won $15 on a Deal or No Deal instant win scratchcard we bought at Citgo.

Like any investment, it is important to step back and look at your purchase with a shrewd eye. Ask yourself the following questions before buying a lotto ticket:

  • "Am I due?"
  • "Did a bird shit on me today?"
  • "Would I feel bad if I didn't pick my numbers today and they came up for the Power Ball?"
  • "Wouldn't my life be easier if I won $300 million?"
  • "Which is closer, the gas station where I buy my lotto ticket or a casino?"
  • "Which do I prefer, working every day at the same old job or living on a supermodel-captained megayacht?"
  • "Am I a resident in a small village where they force the head of each family to draw a piece of paper on June 27th of each year as part of a sadistic and violent ritual?" (Only applicable for characters in the Shirley Jackson short story "The Lottery.")

Good luck! (On your choice.)

Lottery ticket sales increase across country [USA Today]

[@nickgreene][ngreene@villagevoice.com]


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