Why Do People Play the Lottery?

They play because of stories like this. An excerpt:

If this were a movie, nobody would believe it: A rancher struggling to eke out a living in one of the poorest corners of America claimed one of the biggest undivided jackpots in U.S. lottery history Friday – $232 million – after buying the ticket in a town by the name of Winner. Neal Wanless, 23, said he intends to buy himself more room to roam and repay the kindness other townspeople have shown his family. “I want to thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity and blessing me with this great fortune. I will not squander it,” he promised, wearing a big black cowboy hat and a huge grin. Wanless, who is single, lives with his mother and father on the family’s 320-acre ranch near Mission, where they raise cattle, sheep and horses. They don’t own a phone, a mobile home of theirs was repossessed last year, and records show they have fallen $3,552 behind in their property taxes.

And people will keep buying because of that story. When the next bubble starts…people will jump on board blindly under the same behavioral biases that drive the lottery player. Different name, same game.

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One thought on “Why Do People Play the Lottery?

  1. Actually, I play the lottery (only when it is over $100 million) because it gives me a license to daydream about “what if” and a large portion of the proceeds go to education.

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