I don’t believe in luck. I never have. I’ll occasionally drop a “good luck” to a friend ahead of a big event, but that’s not what I really mean. It’s a colloquial well-wish. It’s just a thing we say.
Not believing in luck is more controversial than I realized before the first time I actually said it out loud to a group of people. It did not go over well. I have one friend who still argues with me about it to this day. People, in general, need to believe there’s an outside force deciding which elements of their lives go well and which do not. It’s human nature. But I don’t believe in luck. I believe in odds. I believe in statistics. I believe in math. I hate math with every fiber of my being, but I know it to be real and true.
I’ve only played the lottery three times in my life: the night before I turned 19 when I realized I hadn’t yet made use of my 18 year old ability to buy a scratch-off ticket; now twice in newsrooms with coworkers who thought we may as well all go in and try to win it together.
It’s fun to play. It’s nice to spend those hours between buying the ticket and hearing the chosen numbers thinking about how you’d spend the money. My co-worker emailed us all to let us know the winnings would come out to something above $30 million a piece if we win. I’m a relatively poor 25 year old with outlandish medical bills and a car to pay off. $30 million… would be nice.
Then there’s the odds. The figures will keep changing up until the late night drawing. The numbers that spell out, clear as day, the fact that we’re probably not going to win. We work in journalism. We see the coverage of these big drawings more closely than just about anyone else. How many times have we written or read the stories about the upcoming record-sized powerball pot? How many times have we seen those odds in a script, then seen them change before the next newscast? We’re not dumb. We’re not dense. We just want to think, despite what we see every time,”hey, it could happen.”
Like I said, I don’t believe in luck. I do believe the odds, no matter how crazy, are better than if you don’t even throw your name into the hat. So that’s why today, for the third time in my life, I threw my $2 toward a ticket and I don’t need any luck to figure out how this whole thing’s going to end.
Here’s to the big win, wherever it ends up.