I seldom play the lottery because rationality informs me the odds of winning are vanishingly minimal, and the money would otherwise be better served in an investment account. That’s precisely what I’ve been doing; volatility in the equities market these past few weeks notwithstanding. Investing in stocks is sort of like gambling: none of it is guaranteed, so in that way I don’t feel the need to buy lottery tickets or frequent Las Vegas casinos.
In the rare times when the lottery jackpot reaches stratospheric heights like last evening’s $1.6 billion in the Mega Millions, I'm inclined to buy in at the minimum. The odds haven’t changed of course, but the prize incentive is increased so dramatically that it’d feel rather stupid to not at least throw my hat into the proverbial ring. After all, the hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take". $40 million is life-changing indeed, but $1.6 billion is another life.
It’s always fun exercise to dream about exactly what you will do with that amount of money. I reckon the dopamine hit alone is worth squandering the two dollars required for one ticket. Plenty of people would probably quit their jobs, buy property somewhere to live, and follow their true passions. I’m certainly amongst that camp: if I hit the lottery I’d be a vagabonding photographer, with a focus on driving cars in spectacular locations, and write about it all on this website.
The question is, would I need to win a jackpot to do that?
Answer is a decided no. It doesn’t take an enormous sum to travel and write; get good enough I might even be decently paid for it. What the hypothetical lottery winning provides is absolute freedom: freedom from the obligations of a normal person. People aren’t keen to quit their jobs to chase a passion because they’ve got others dependent on their regular paychecks, be that a spouse, children, or a mortgage.
I currently have none of those obligations, and quite a bit saved up in the bank (again, last couple of weeks’ stock market notwithstanding). So what’s stopping me from going after my passion?