Why playing the lottery will never make you rich


(There we are sippin’ on some $20 chocolatey & fruity concoctions from Starbucks on Darren’s birthday…woooo!)


Do you play the lottery?


If you do, that’s fine. We used to buy the odd ticket for the big draws every once in a while too.


$5 spent and the chance to win 30 million dollars.


And the odds? 1 in 30 million.


Obviously these aren’t very good odds. Your odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 700,00 according to National Geographic. And being struck twice? 1 in 9 million according to CBS.

So…comparatively, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning twice than winning the lottery in your lifetime.


So why do we still play the lottery knowing the terrible odds?


One reason, we are obsessed with the event that we see when people win the lottery.



It’s our escape from reality, for the time being. Kinda like this Duke Dumont video…



We see the middle aged (or elderly) couple on the news (rarely is it a young couple) holding up that oversized check and smiling for the cameras and we think….wow, their lives will never be the same (in a good way).


We fall in love with the idea of buying a $5 ticket that could make us rich…in an instant.


As Rory Vaden said in his book Take the Stairs – We as a nation, look for the easy route when facing obstacles or challenges in life. We choose to take the escalator, when the stairs are right there.


The easy route to wealth for lottery players would be the big win…the hard route? making the money any other way.


If you were to spend $5 a week on lottery tickets, that would total $260 a year, or $7800 in 30 years. Could you find a better way to invest your $7800 over the course of the next 30 years to give you better returns than the 0% you will get from all of those lottery ticket duds you bought?


When our family went to Florida last year, the Powerball was in full force with its biggest jackpot ever, 1.5 billion dollars. ticket’s were $2 each. The odds of winning – 1 in 292 million. A little less than the population of the USA. Needless to say, the odds weren’t good.


The news was talking about it all day and night. The biggest jackpot in history. I read articles of people driving from Canada to the USA to buy upwards of $5000 worth of tickets (and in some cases more than that).


Would you call this a huge waste of time and money? 


Of course I humored myself by purchasing one $2 ticket while pumping gas at a gas station in Kissimmee, right outside of Disney World. I couldn’t resist. It wasn’t out of my way and it didn’t take any extra time to purchase the ticket along with my gas. It played on my mind. A $2 risk for the possibility of a MASSIVE return on investment. Of course I knew this small risk wouldn’t amount to anything.


In the best selling book – The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas J. Stanley, the author briefly talks about the time it takes to go to a store to purchase a lottery ticket and why it’s not worthwhile to the wealthy. When you add up the time spent doing this task over the course of the years, it’s not a productive use of time. He goes on to highlight the many ways that the wealthy effectively use their time. Buying lottery tickets…not being one of them.


If you take a look at any successful person, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Jim Carrey, etc. you will find that none of them built their wealth from lottery winnings and none are avid gamblers.


I’ve spoken to people that buy lottery tickets daily and weekly. When I’ve inquired as to why they spend their money and time on purchasing such a poor investment, their answers typically revolve around being able to quit their job and retire early…to travel the world, lay on a beach somewhere, buy fancy cars and toys. They then marvel at what their “quitting day” would be like after winning the lottery. A high octance fuelled exit from the office with some colorful parting words to their bosses.


Of course these are all pipe dreams. Because most lottery players must know the poor odds of winning. But the lure of the possibilities of winning are too strong. You mean I wouldn’t have to work hard or do any of the real life things necessary to become wealthy? (they must think to themselves)


The reason I stopped playing the lottery a long time ago is….because something inside told me that this was not my way to wealth. Something told me that I was going to have to work harder for my money. 


I frequently thought to myself, would I even want to win the lottery? I mean, would I even appreciate it? Or would I feel like a fraud? Like I never earned it or deserved it?


Nah, I’d be okay. 


I’m not saying I want to do things the hard way. I just feel that maybe Rory Vaden was right… Maybe trying to find the easy way all the time is the wrong approach. Rory had this epiphany when he was attempting to make his way to an upper level in a building, only to notice that the escalator was jam packed. He then noticed the empty and barren stairs beside it. And he thought to himself…what a shame.



In his book, he lists the numerous reasons why our nation has become a proctrasti-nation. Where everyone looks for the easy way to the top, expecting handouts and things given to them without any effort on their part. (recommended read…check it out here)


I believe that once we stop focusing our time on the easy ways to success, and stop looking for this elusive “easy road”…we can begin our journey through the dark, difficult, unlit path that leads to creating the life we want for ourselves and our family. I hope I’m not getting too philosophical about lottery tickets here. You’re probably thinking, geez I just bought a few scratch tickets the other day, what’s the big deal?


I’m not saying you are a lazy person if you purchase the odd lottery ticket. But what I do believe is, it might be a telltale sign that…maybe you look for the easy way to get things that you want. The path of least resistance. It’s human nature. We are a lazy species.


As I end this post, one last story comes to mind. A true story about a young girl who was trying to make ends meet. A girl who took the bus to work everyday because she couldn’t afford a car. A girl who avidly played the lottery to hopefully strike it rich one day.


Well, this young girl did win lottery. Becoming an instant millionaire. Never having to work another day in her life. Enough money to buy houses and cars and….whatever else she wanted.


And that’s exactly what she did.


But the problem was, she acquired the money too easily. She didn’t respect it. She didn’t earn it. She didn’t take any risks to get it. She just bought a lottery ticket one day for a few bucks and was given the golden ticket of freedom (from her job, current lifestyle, etc.).


And what’d she do? She bought everything under the sun. literally everything. Until all the money was gone. She didn’t invest, save, or do anything useful with the money. 


Then, the money ran out…


Today, she finds herself taking the bus to work. With not enough money in her bank account to buy a car to drive herself to work.


Back from where she came.


Sad…but true story.


So next time you buy that lottery ticket, ask yourself, do I feel like a winner today?