According to the USDOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Americans make 1.1 billion trips per day in vehicles.
According to Association For Safe International Road Travel, 37,000 Americans die in road crashes every year. That is 101.37 deaths per day.
In addition, 2.35 million Americans are injured or disabled in vehicle crashes each year, or 6,438.36 injuries per day.
Using simple math, of these 1.1 billion daily trips, we have a 0.000585% chance of being injured in an accident, and a 0.00000921% chance of dying on any one of these trips.
It was recently announced that no winning tickets were sold for last night’s estimated $949.8 million Powerball jackpot, and the estimated jackpot for Wednesday, January 13, 2016’s drawing will be a record $1.3 BILLION. Yes, we have officially hit the ‘B’ for a simple lottery drawing.
The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292,201,338, or 0.000000342%.
This means if you purchase one $2 Powerball ticket, you are 27 times more likely to die in a vehicle accident – and 1,710 times more likely to get injured in a vehicle accident – on the way to getting your Powerball ticket. Those numbers double if you plan on driving home from the convenience store.
You will have to buy 54 Powerball tickets – a $108 investment – to make the chance of winning the jackpot worth risking your life.
You will have to buy 3,420 Powerball tickets – a $6,840 investment – to mitigate the risk of vehicle-related injury.
By comparison, the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot is 1 in 258,890,850, or 0.000000386%.
You will have to buy 48 Mega Millions tickets – a $48 investment – to make the chance of winning the jackpot worth risking your life.
You will have to buy 1,515 Mega Millions tickets – a $1,515 investment – to mitigate the risk of vehicle-related injury.
Why Do We Play?
The statistics speak for themselves – unless you are willing to spend serious money just to mitigate the risks, your lottery ticket is more likely to seriously injure or kill you than make your dreams come true. These lottery drawings are terrible investments in every sense. So why do we play? Most, I believe, play it out of desperation or habit. I am not a lottery player because I am painfully aware of the statistics and can get much better value for my dollar elsewhere, but I will buy a Powerball ticket for this drawing despite the fact I know I will not win for two reasons:
1.) I am paying $2 for a fantasy.
2.) Solidarity. Everyone else is talking about it, and I am paying $2 to be a part of that conversation. The drawing is historic, and this is my ticket to be part of history.
It’s not about the money for me. For those two reasons, I will purchase another Powerball quick pick, just like I purchased a ticket for the previous $949.8 million drawing.
However, exercise caution. While waiting in line for my previous ticket, a stood behind a woman dressed in a uniform for the very convenience store I was purchasing my ticket. She spent $30 on tickets, and I thought to myself, “You are spending nearly half a day’s pay on this crap.” That left me very sad because I know so many do that every week.
A $2 investment and a $30 investment have the same chance of winning the Powerball jackpot – statistically 0%. I understand purchasing a ticket during these historic drawings for social solidarity, but if you’re cutting into your actual income…walk away.
Powerball vs. Mega Millions?
No matter how ridiculous the odds of winning, people will always play the lottery.
This begs the question: why would anyone who has access to the Mega Millions drawing play the Powerball?
Statistically, the chances of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are significantly higher than the Powerball, and at half the ticket cost, this is a no-brainer. If you are a regular player of either game, the money is best spent on the Mega Millions drawing. Although let’s face it, we’re almost certainly not winning either one.
All information found herein, including any ideas, opinions, views, predictions, commentaries, forecasts, suggestions or stock picks, expressed or implied, are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only and should not be construed as personal investment advice. I am not a licensed investment adviser.