Just saw this stat from the folks at LendEDU and found it interesting:
“Americans spend an average of $219.54 on the lottery per year”
At first it didn’t seem like that much, but after comparing it to my own past of picking up maybe 1 ticket a week, it certainly trumps my $52/year. And is almost like picking up a ticket every day of the work week!
Of course I was only doing it for fun vs actually counting on winning – or worse, NEEDING to win! – so it only stung a little as it scrapped my “entertainment” budget, but boy was it fun and addicting… Even though I literally lost almost every single time, haha… I can totally get why people say it’s a “tax on the poor” though as you get so much HOPE for literally just a dollar. And you “just never know” when it’ll be your lucky day! “Someone has to win it!”
Here were some other wild stats from the study too:
“Americans spent $71,826,676,000 on the lottery in 2017 which is more than video games ($43.8B), movies ($11.89B), and concerts ($8B) combined” <— WOW!!! “Massachusettsans spent the most on the lottery at $737.01 per capita, which equates to nearly 2% of their annual household income” “Rhode Island, Delaware, and New York were the next three biggest spenders, at $502.01, $475.75, and $426.27 per capita, respectively? (What is going on with the NorthEast??! Haha…)
And then my favorite:
“After we bought $1,000 worth of scratch-off tickets for the third consecutive year, our winning percentage from this year was 22.93% compared to last year’s 22.61% and the first year’s 21.62%. We can confidently say that your chance of winning on scratch-off tickets is ~22%.”
Had to laugh hard at that last one as I used to do experiments like this all the time back in the day myself 😉 Though fortunately I only had the cajones (and patience) to try $100 experiments vs $1,000 ones which was way more than enough to satisfy my curiosity, haha…
And once we even raised over $200 for charity! –> The results of the $100 Scratch Off Lottery Project
(I couldn’t’ even get the tickets to fit in that picture to the right!)
Here’s how my “winnings” came out on that one, which consisted of playing one hundred $1.00 holiday scratch-off tickets:
12 $1.00 winners 4 $2.00 winners 2 $3.00 winners 2 $6.00 winners Grand total winnings: $38.00
So pretty much the *opposite* of impressive, and clocked us in at a flat 20% winning percentage, which is both worse than the odds the lottery states (1 in 4.21), as well as the results from LendEDU’s tests… And it only got more annoying when I asked them how much *money* they won in their last test 😉
We won $2,858 on this year’s $1,000 test.
The years prior we lost a slight amount of money each time.
Triple their money!!! WOW!!! And way different sounding than a “23% success rate” haha… Not that that was the point of the email or anything, but still…
While we didn’t come close to bringing home that much in our experiment though (or even breaking even, for that matter!), I did take away a few things that ultimately ended up affecting my favorite pastime once and for all:
Here’s the TL;DR version:
Sometimes it’s more exciting thinking about things than actually doing them. The idea of playing 100 lottery tickets far exceeded the joy of scratching them! Gambling brings out the emotions in you! I was a hot mess by the end of the 1 and 1/2 hours it took to go through them all, and then ended up with a major headache to cap it off. Giving back is contagious. It was meant to be just a fun little project we did over one weekend to raise a few bucks and awareness, but after someone jumped in and offered to match our total winnings, it prompted others to do the same and our $38 original donation quickly ended up becoming $222! Which wasn’t too bad for a fledgling new blog at the time! 🙂 And then lastly, there really can be too much of a good thing. As I mentioned above, I used to LOVE playing the lottery casually for fun, and even though I rarely won it was still a much more enjoyable experience than playing a ton of them all at once. Similar one might say with consuming drinks of alcoholic nature, where one or two a night might hit the spot, but saving them all up to the end of the weekend can have a drastically different effect, haha…
Still, a fun project to try back in the day, and I’m probably much better for it now 😉
How about you though? Have you ever been a big player of the lottery? If so, how much on average do you think you spend a year? How much do you win??!
I’d bet our crowd spends significantly less than the $219/average on it, but it only takes one or two of us to really blow it out of the water and bring that average up, haha… And if you’re able to hit all your life/finance goals in the process, is it really that bad to play every now and then?!
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts…
PS: My wife will play the Mega Millions, but only when it’s over $400 Million or else “it’s not worth it,” haha… Which I find hilarious as *any* number of millions would be worth it for us!!!
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!