Editor Column: Rambling, now gambling man
Growing up on rock and roll created decades before I was born made me quite a snob when it came to music.
Bands like Led Zeppelin made real music and every band that came after Nirvana was, at best, fake. Bob Seger was among my favorites, and while he has several CDs worth of groovy tunes (yeah, I said groovy), I always had the appetite to listen to his early hit “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.”
The song has been on my mind lately as the Powerball jackpot has climbed in recent weeks. Wednesday morning it stood at a record $1.5 billion and it was expected to be even more by the time numbers were picked Wednesday evening — after press deadline.
Up until Saturday, Jan. 9, I had never purchased a lottery ticket, ever. I say up until Saturday because the morning before the draw I went out and purchased four tickets. Obviously I didn’t win, but I’ll come back to this experience.
Although I have plenty of friends who regularly purchase scratch-offs and other lottery tickets, the appeal of small and large payouts never enticed me.
I use to joke that I had enough vices in life, and if I took up gambling I’d be destitute, or worse. That was, I’m pretty sure, a joke, but as the previously-mentioned Powerball continued to grow I tried to pin down why I never played one of these so called “games.”
It’s not just the lottery. To this day I still have no idea how to play poker, despite the fact that I’ve held cards and sat clueless at a chip-littered table multiple times. I don’t believe that the game is so complex that it’s beyond my mental capacity to grasp.
All those times people tried to explain the rules to me fell on deaf ears. I just didn’t care and was there for the social aspect more so than the game. The reason for the lack of intrigue, I think, stems from my hatred of losing and my belief that winning was next to impossible.
It’s one of the reasons why I stopped playing video games — I’m terrible at them.
“I try to avoid things that I suck at,” I would tell friends asking me if I wanted to play whatever version of the “Madden” football video game or “Call of Duty” shoot-em-up games.
Coincidently, inevitable loss also is why I’m seriously considering abandoning the NFL and my Cincinnati Bengals. (Yes, I watched the game.)
The lottery, especially the Powerball, is another one of those things where winning is essentially impossible. As Will Grandbois pointed out in Wednesday’s Post Independent, the odds of winning the Powerball are actually 1 to 292.2 million.
“That’s enough combinations for every adult in the country to purchase a ticket without guaranteeing a winner — not counting multiples and overlaps,” Grandbois wrote.
“You have a greater chance of dying in a car accident for every mile you drive than you do of winning the Powerball for every ticket you buy. You are more likely to share the same birthday with the next three people you see.”
I’m going to make an assumption and say that most of us know that the odds of winning the Powerball are absurd. Yet, millions of tickets continue to be sold. As the Post reported, the Kum & Go store in north Rifle sold $1,700 in Powerball tickets just before 4 p.m. on Tuesday alone, and about $2,000 in tickets on Monday. (For the record, tickets are $2 unless you do the “power play” option in which case tickets are $3.)
The Kum & Go store in north Rifle is where Rifle resident Al George purchased a winning Powerball ticket in 2014, and it’s where I purchased three tickets on Tuesday. As I mentioned, the previous Saturday was the first time I purchased any sort of lottery ticket. I’m not sure what was different this time.
The Associated Press sent an alert to my iPhone stating that the jackpot was at whatever amount of money. My girlfriend and I said “what the hell” and went out and bought our tickets. She opted for the “power play” and I went for the regular tickets, mostly because I have no idea how the “power play” works.
Unlike the Bengals loss on Saturday, failing to win the Powerball that evening was not nearly as devastating. Perhaps it was the beer that I was drowning my sorrow in from the Bengals loss, but I suspect it was because I never expected to win (part of me didn’t expect the Bengals would win either, but damn that was a devastating way to lose a game).
With that in mind, I bought three more tickets Tuesday. You’ll know the outcome by whether or not my ugly mug appears in this space next week. In anticipation of that outcome, I’m going to try and get a head start on next week’s column before the draw.
Just like you, Ryan Hoffman did not win the Powerball. You can reach him at 970-685-2103 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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