By: Josh Bozzick
On Saturday night the Powerball jackpot lottery failed to have a winner in yet another drawing. This would not be headline news if this was its first drawing, but this was its 18th drawing since Nov. 7.
All Powerball jackpots begin at $40 million and grow until there is a winning ticket. That number has ballooned to an estimated and unthinkable $1.3 billion. In case you were wondering, that is the largest jackpot in any lottery in North American history. If a winner is announced this week, he or she could receive the winnings as a lump sum of $806 million.
Let’s compare this historic Powerball jackpot to a few other things. As big as $1.3 billion seems, it would still be less valuable than any of the 32 teams in the National Football League. Even the Buffalo Bills, the NFL franchise with the lowest net worth according to Forbes Magazine, are worth $1.4 billion.
Donald Trump has a net worth of $4.5 billion. So the $1.3 billion wouldn’t get you on his level, but it could give you the same opportunity to run your own campaign free from the interests of any donors or lobbyists.
Now let’s compare this number of $1.3 billion to a number I am sure we as Americans are frighteningly familiar with. The U.S. national debt is closing in on $19 trillion dollars. The jackpot is only 0.0068 percent of the total debt.
Forget the other numbers I compared this massive jackpot to. It was only to show you how insane our national debt really is when you compare it to the historic payout of this lottery.
Lotteries set aside about 40 percent of their ticket sales as state revenue that often goes to schools. However they are almost always a losing bet. Not much separates lotteries from casinos, besides the fact they can pay out more and are legal in all but six states. According to an article published on the Atlantic, Americans in the 44 states where lotteries are legal spent $70 billion on tickets in 2014. This comes to an average amount of $300 per adult. To make it worse, lotteries tend to advertise more aggressively in poorer regions, and the people who live there buy the most tickets.
Lotteries are simply a pipe dream for the over 99.9 percent of people who buy a ticket. The irony of it all is our country is in this huge amount of national debt largely because of poor financial decisions, both on a macro and micro level.
I believe such a lack of care for what we do with our money as Americans stems from
economic and financial illiteracy. Until college, neither a basic economic nor finance class was every required of me or even offered in my 12 years of public schooling. That is not only a disgrace but an embarrassment to our education system. For those of you who are not business majors, you may never take a class in your entire schooling life that teaches you how to save and grow your money. That is scary, and it reflects itself in the debt and spending habits of many Americans.
Instead of throwing away the $300 a year the average American adult spends on the lottery, that money should be put away in savings accounts or invested into stocks for it to grow overtime. Every person should understand the TVM (time value of money).
As Americans, we seem to want an easy fix for so many things, including making money and attaining wealth. There is no such thing, and we must realize this and financially educate ourselves if we ever want to improve our nation’s financial health.
A record payout amount for the Powerball jackpot lottery is a cute headline, but the more meaningful headline should be the lack of money well spent or lack of money well saved and invested in.