The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

December 17, 2013

Why do lottery players think they can defy odds?

It's the ultimate fantasy: Walk into a store, plunk down a dollar, and with nothing but luck — really extraordinary luck — you win a giant lottery. Suddenly, you're rich as a sultan with enough money to buy an NBA team or your own island.

The odds of that happening, of course, are astronomical. But tell that to the optimists and dreamers across the country who lined up at gas stations, mini-marts and drug stores Monday for the last-minute buying frenzy in the Mega Millions jackpot. The $586 million prize — the fourth-largest in U.S. history — could grow by Tuesday night's drawing.

So what drives people to play, and what makes them think their $1 investment— among the many, many millions — will bring staggering wealth?

"It's the same question as to why do people gamble," said Stephen Goldbart, author of "Affluence Intelligence" and co-director of the Money, Meaning & Choices Institute in California. "It's a desire to improve your life in a way that's driven by fantasy. ... The bigger the fantasy, the tastier it gets."

In a piece called "Lottery-itis!," Goldbart and co-author Joan DiFuria wrote on their blog last year on the Psychology Today website that in times of economic stress, playing the lottery is a way of coping with financial anxieties and uncertainty.

"We may seek a magic pill to make us feel better," they wrote. "Ah yes, buy a lottery ticket. Feel again like you did when you were a child, having hope that a better day will come, that some big thing will happen that will make everything right, set the course on track. "

The Mega Millions jackpot soared to $586 million on Monday, still short of the $656 million U.S. record set in a March 2012 drawing. The new huge prize stems from a major game revamp in October that dramatically reduced the odds of winning. If no one wins Tuesday night and the jackpot rolls over past the next drawing scheduled Friday, it will reach $1 billion, according to Paula Otto, executive director of the Virginia Lottery and Mega Millions' lead director.

Text Only
AP National
  • Judges in health care rulings vote party line WASHINGTON (AP) — In rapid succession, six federal judges on two appeals courts weighed in on a key component of President Barack Obama's health care law. Their votes lined up precisely with the party of the president who appointed them. It was the l

    July 23, 2014

  • House, Senate chart separate courses on border WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats and House Republicans are moving separately to slash President Barack Obama's $3.7 billion emergency spending request for the southern border, but they're unlikely to end up with a deal that could pass both chambers

    July 23, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Today Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. THE FINAL DAYS AND HOURS OF FLIGHT 17'S PASSENGERS The Boeing 777 traveling from Amsterdam to Malaysia held the promise of beginnings and endin

    July 23, 2014

  • Agents get subsidized 'Obamacare' using fake IDs WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress will hear testimony Wednesday detailing how undercover investigators used fake identities to get taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama's law. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office says

    July 23, 2014

  • Police custody death tests 'Broken Windows' tactic NEW YORK (AP) — Eric Garner, who died in police custody last week after he was put in an apparent chokehold, was suspected of committing the relatively minor crime of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes on the street. The encounter was an unintended co

    July 23, 2014

  • Obama urges immediate access to Ukraine crash site WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama sternly called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to compel Kremlin-backed separatists to stop hampering the probe at the Ukraine site of a downed passenger jet and allow international investigators unfettere

    July 22, 2014

  • American Jews, other 'lone soldiers' serve Israel JERUSALEM (AP) — The two Americans killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip followed in the footsteps of scores of Jews from around the world who have volunteered to fight for Israel. Israel calls them the lone soldiers: They are men and women in the pri

    July 22, 2014

  • 2008 law unexpectedly at center of border debate WASHINGTON (AP) — A 2008 law to address human trafficking is at the center of the debate over the immigration crisis at the nation's Southern border. The law was passed at a time when fewer than 10,000 unaccompanied minors showed up each year at the

    July 22, 2014

  • Lawmakers face long to-do list, uncertain success WASHINGTON (AP) — A gridlocked Congress failed to do the big things: overhauling the nation's immigration system, reforming the loophole-cluttered tax code and stiffening background checks on gun buyers. Now it's time to see whether it can just do th

    July 22, 2014

  • Detroit retirees back pension cuts by a landslide DETROIT (AP) — A year after filing for bankruptcy, Detroit is building momentum to get out, especially after workers and retirees voted in favor of major pension changes just a few weeks before a judge holds a crucial trial that could end the largest

    July 22, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National