If you don't like the way the cookie crumbles, try the Bread of Life.
- Seen on church sign, Frederick, Maryland
Millie and I were surprised today on our morning walk to see that our local newsstand and lotto operator was open early. I poked my head in and asked the owner if he was keeping new hours.
“No, sir,” he said in his South Asian lilt. “We’re expecting a rush of Mega Millions ticket buyers today. The jackpot is $640 million, you know. So we just wanted to be ready.”
I bought a paper and told him I hoped he sold a lot of tickets.
“Don’t worry,” he replied. “They’ll be lined up outside the door! How about you? You could buy a lot of treats for your dog with that kind of money!”
We humans are funny. A week ago when the jackpot was a mere $200 million or so, it was no big deal, as if $200 million was somehow less motivating than $640 million. Do people think, “Oh, well, I got paid this week. I think I can pass on that money”?
Somehow I doubt it. Yet how do you account for the fact that Mega Millions sales will be up 40 percent today over last week? You can’t. At least not rationally. But I think the Mega Millions jackpot has more to do with hope than with cash, with dreams than with the odds. And even a little to do with faith. Bear with me.
I remember when we caught Mom buying a weekly ticket in the Michigan lotto. We were shocked. She wasn’t the gambling kind, not by a long shot. She even disdained bingo. But when pressed she admitted she dreamed of giving all her winnings to our church. And I believe that’s exactly what she would have done, after slipping her kids a few bucks first, of course. The fact was that our pastor, Father Walling, couldn’t very well be seen at the local party store buying lotto tickets with parish funds. So Mom did it herself with whatever spare money she had in her purse that day.
For many folks, winning it all isn’t really about ditching your job and buying your own island. It’s about the possibility of our dreams coming true. It is a vote of confidence, and act of faith if you will, in the notion that any wonderful thing is possible, whatever the reality of the odds say (in the case of Mega Millions, the odds of winning are about a third of what the jackpot is). Call it the hubris of hope.
There are probably a thousand better ways to get a return on your money than playing lotto. Or you could just donate the money to a good cause. But for some, playing lotto is a good cause; it keeps the flame of hope alive, of believing that in life anything can happen. We are indeed creatures of hope. The line out my local lotto operator’s door will prove that.
So, are you playing Mega Millions today? What will you do with the money if you win? Post below. And good luck.
Edward Grinnan is Editor-in-Chief and Vice President of Guideposts Publications. Edward lives in New York City with two blondes—his wife, Julee, and Golden Retriever, Millie, who has been featured in his blog and popular videos. Edward loves cycling, hiking with Millie at his house in the Berkshire Hills and Wolverines that hail from Michigan.
If you need a little boost of inspiration, pick up a copy of Edward's book The Promise of Hope: How True Stories of Hope and Inspiration Saved My Life and How They Can Transform Yours.