The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Why we stopped doing the lottery

When the National Lottery came out in the UK, around 12 or 13 years ago, like many people in the country we started regularly buying a weekly ticket. In those days a million pounds would give you a millionaire lifestyle (not now, apparently - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4351880.stm) and the National Lottery was often paying out over £8 million on a weekly basis.

We once won £10, but that was the limit of our success. With a 14-million-to-one chance of winning the jackpot, the balance of probability was never really on our side. Statistically, if you were to buy your lottery ticket on Monday, then there was more chance that you would be dead by Saturday than you would be a jackpot winner.

After I left University I struggled to get a job. 6 months of unemployment was followed by 18 months on a government “Training For Work Scheme”. During this time I went through periods of chronic self-doubt and despair, and each week when the lottery draw came round I found myself increasingly desperate to win.

Without doubt, several million pounds would have helped us no end, but one day I was struck by the fact that the lottery was actually nothing but a sedative and a decoy.

So long as I was waiting for fate to intervene, it was an excuse for me to not sort out my own life. I couldn’t see a way out at that time, but I realised that it was pointless waiting for a miracle. So there and then we made the decision to stop doing the lottery. If I knew that I couldn’t wait on some kind of divine intervention, then I would have to find a way out for us off my own back.

6 months later I got the idea of becoming self-employed. When my first business went under I set up the second. And when I got sick of that I sold it and we created the life we now have.

If we were to win the lottery today our lives wouldn’t actually change that much. We might own a house instead of renting; I might drive a bigger car; we might have bigger holidays; but the general day-to-day life wouldn’t change. We would still be eating 3 meals a day, the kids would still be going to school, I would still be writing and Maggie would still be pursuing her textile art.

So by refusing to do the lottery anymore, it was the first step in getting to a place that isn’t too far removed from if we had won. It may have taken 10 years, but by doing the lottery the odds were that my numbers would only come up once every 250,000 years.

15 comments

BStrong said...

Kim, you played the lottery last night and didn't even know it. I bought you a ticket for our Power Ball that was up to 300+ million. Sorry to say you and I didn't win. There was actually one winner in Oregon.

I play the lottery every once in a while, just for fun. If it happens it happens, if not, life still goes on.

Kim Ayres said...

Well you can rest assured that had it won I wouldn't have hesitated to pay you back your dollar ;)

Gyrobo said...

The lottery is one of the biggest government scams in human history.

The biggest scam in robot history was the "free lunch" program. Robots don't even eat!

Asher Hunter said...

Great post, very well stated. Lotteries, like television and "celebrity watching" are little more than opiates. Congratulations on your business success!

Kim Ayres said...

gyrobo - was there no way to get on the 'oil for food' programme?

Asher - Thanks for visiting my ramblings. I only recently discovered your blog, but am enjoying it!

BStrong said...

I would have gladly accepted the dollar and the 5 trips to Scotland you mentioned. I believe round trips to Scotland from Pittsburgh are going for $15 million a piece:)
B

Kim Ayres said...

Somehow though, I can't help but think that had that ticket been the winning one, it would have been the other one that would suddenly have become mine ;)

Dr Maroon said...

Can I have your numbers?

Lord Lessismore said...

Somebody once wrote that the lottery was really a stupidity tax. Of course, I still play whenever the pot grows really large because...well, because I'm a lemming, I guess.

For many years, I would dream about what I would do if I won the lottery. Then I realized that I was thinking in terms of "if only I had a lot of money, I would..." when I should have been thinking, "what's keeping me from..." This switch in thinking finally motivated me to start taking graduate school classes so that I'm actually working toward a dream instead of just dreaming it.

And yet still the big pots call to me now and again...

Dr Maroon said...

Camelot admit they are selling dreams. There’s an intense pleasure to be had working out which cars boats planes will be bought and who in the family gets a bung and who gets the finger. The fantasy is more difficult without the ticket in your pocket.
A prime example to illustrate the Considered Life.

Perhaps your American readership should know that a “bung” is a monetary gift, not an anatomical appliance.

Kim Ayres said...

Lord Lessismore and Dr Maroon - Yes the dreams are fun. In fact, I only thought about writing this post after reading BStrong's entry - Winning: would you do? (http://downsyndromelife.blogspot.com/2005/10/winning-what-would-you-do.html) as it reminded me of why we stopped doing the lottery.

Basically, the way the Lottery affected me was to push me too far into the fantasy realm. It is a great deal easier to dream of riches than it is to go out and get them. In a way, it was that realisation that changed my approach to life.

Ramana Siddharth said...

i guess lottery is like the wizard of oz!!always beyond one's reach!when i was real small my grandfather bought me a lottery ticket and i kept checking the papers 2 see if my no was chosen.it wasnt :( there ended my one night stand with lottery!

Gyrobo said...

You want to know how bad the lottery is? A millionaire U.S. Senator from New Hampshire just won $853,492 (Which comes out to about £482,636.92).

The thing I can't believe is that the dollar is so weak internationally. That's just not the sign of a healthy economy.

Kim Ayres said...

I would find it much easier to cope with the lottery if there was some kind of justice to it. But then, I guess it wouldn't be a lottery...

reid said...

and a happy birthday to you

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