Why we love to play the lottery when we know we won’t win

The odds of winning the lottery are long, but Americans play anyway.

In the fall of 2018, America was infected with Mega Millions fever. The jackpot for the Mega Millions — one of the two biggest nationwide lottery games, along with Powerball — had climbed to an astonishing $1.6 billion, the highest in history, and across the country, cartoon dollar signs were popping into people’s eyes.

After weeks of breathless media speculation, it was announced: A single ticket, sold at a KC Mart in Simpsonville, South Carolina, had won the grand prize — a feat with the approximate odds of one in 302.6 million.

Yet the ticket went unclaimed for months. A winner only has 180 days to come forward with the prize ticket; otherwise, the money would be dispersed among the states based on ticket sales, and the expected windfall for South Carolina ($61 million) and even the clerk whose convenience store sold the golden ticket ($50,000) would evaporate.

Finally, on March 4, just under the cutoff, a woman came forward to claim the prize. But because South Carolina law allows lottery winners to remain anonymous, we may never know the name of the person whose stroke of luck let her walk away with a lump sum of nearly $878 million, the largest payout to a single winner in history.

Four days later, news outlets had moved on: to the story of an unemployed 54-year-old man who won $173 million off a Mega Millions ticket he bought — and mistakenly left — at a Quick Check in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, and was able to reclaim after a Good Samaritan turned in the ticket for the store to hold.

We love stories like this. Lottery wins are a staple of local news coverage, and periodically, when the jackpot climbs high enough, the national press gets in on the action …read more

Source:: Vox – All

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