Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Almost Billionaire

Guys, I didn't win.

I didn't think I would win the $1.5 BILLION Powerball lottery, but I had thought through what I might do, just in case I had. It was a smart plan, full of sound financial decisions, large philanthropic endeavors, a trust fund for my nephew, and vacations for my family. I also probably wouldn't fly coach quite as often. I wouldn't buy a new car. I don't need a fancy house.  Ah, I would've been such a good lottery winner.


I am still here, working on my budget, trying to stick to my January resolution.

It's no surprise that I didn't win – not just because my chance was one in millions  but because my lottery experience started out a bit rocky.

I had never bought a lottery ticket before, which was immediately clear to everyone else in the local ExxonMobil On the Run store the minute I walked in. "I'm here to buy Powerball tickets!" I excitedly said to the clerk.

"Do you want your own numbers or Quick Pick?" he responded, with not nearly enough enthusiasm to match mine.

"Oooh, my own, please."

I didn't have any method to my number picking, but I thought perhaps there would be divine intervention and the winning numbers would just come to me. Because, you know how the all powerful, all knowing God is very concerned with me winning $1.5 BILLION.

"Go fill out a ticket over there."

He pointed to a small table by the door. I walked over and there were tons of different types of tickets. Geez, people like to gamble. After successfully finding one that said "Powerball" and looked a little like the one I'd seen on WikiHow's "How to Play Powerball," I got to work. I had the added pressure of buying two tickets for my mom who was distributing her luck across the Mid-Atlantic with tickets in NC, VA, and DC.

Within four seconds, I had already screwed it up. I picked six numbers in the top section, in which you're only supposed to pick five. I just got overexcited. The numbers were coming to me too quickly.


This rattled my game. 

I searched around for instructions on how I was supposed to fill in this scantron (special thanks to years of standardized testing for teaching me that word), because I was sure I'd screw it up again. Turns out the instructions are on the back of the ticket so that it's super obvious that you don't know what you're doing when you have to keep flipping over your ticket.

I tried to do that thing you do in the gym when you secretly need to read the instructions on the weight machine but don't want anyone to notice because you want to be worthy of the overpriced athletic gear you're sporting. You know, when you act like you're just stretching really close to the machine, but in reality you're reading the step-by-step guide lest you dislocate your arm.
WikiHow explains Powerball. 

No, I didn't stretch in the middle of the Exxon...

I gazed longingly at motor oil.

I wish I was kidding. I just stared off, like I was thinking hard about lottery numbers and carburetors (I don't know what those are) and would occasionally glance down at the instructions, real subtle-like.

Once I felt I fully understood how and which numbers to fill in (thanks for nothing, WikiHow), I walked back in line to pay, feeling pretty proud of myself.

"All set!" I said cheerily, like someone who was about to become a billionaire would say it, I think. "This one is void because it got messed up," I told him, holding up a crinkled ticket, like he cared.

He didn't. 

Lottery tickets feel so official – or least as official as something can be in a store that sells motor oil, tampons, and super-sized sodas all within 20 feet of one another.  I didn't want him to think I was trying to pocket an extra ticket for some illegal lottery scheme that I clearly wouldn't be smart enough to devise in the first place. Also, I couldn't find a trash can. 

"You have cash? It's cash only."

What the...

"Hmm, let me see...," I said, knowingly perfectly well that I had no cash, but fumbling through my wallet anyways. "Um, do you have an ATM? I thought I had a 20." Liar.

I then, once again, cruised past the long line, back by the motor oil and the tiny lottery table to the world's oldest ATM, snagged $20 (and coughed up the $1.50 in ATM fees because what's $1.50 when you have $1.5B, am I right?), and then got back in line to wait my turn to try, yet again, to secure my financial future.

The clerk ran my (hopefully) correctly-filled scantron through the computer and handed me my official ticket...

...which I immediately dropped on the floor.

Good god, Lindsay. Get your life together.

The nice clerk looked at me and said, "Good luck," with more sincerity than anyone has ever said it, probably because he thought winning the lottery was the only way I'd succeed in this world.

Let's hope that's not true because, not only did I not win the jackpot but I lost in spectacular fashion. Across all of the 30 numbers showing up on my five tickets, only two of them were part of the winning sequence and they weren't even on the same ticket. I assumed I wouldn't win the jackpot, but I thought maybe I could win $4 or so, at least enough to cover those ATM fees.

But no, it wasn't meant to be. So I am officially announcing my retirement from the world of the lotto. It took me about 20 minutes to secure five losing tickets. They say time is money...apparently not. 

Eh, flying coach isn't so bad. 


  1. Nice story of the beginner lottery player. I think every one doing it on his or her own gets throught more or less the same story. That was my case as well. Still I've already switched to the online gaming at WinTrillions review for instance to save time and trouble. Unfortunately it does not save the fees still it is much easier and faster.

  2. If wish it were a story of success an huge luck for us. Just like this: one day you decide to play spending just a buck or two, another day you check Powerball results USA and that's it. You are on the top of the world!