Just last Tuesday gone, Australia had a Tuesday night OzLotto lottery prize pool of $50million which will jackpot to a Footballers wage of $70million next week (worth around $200m US nowadays I think?). For 99% of the world’s population, this is alot of money. Even about half of the 1% they would agree this is enough to get out of their gold plated hover-beds for.
Australia is a nation of gamblers. Throw a coin in the air and soon 6 people will be betting on which side it lands, what year it was minted, how long it takes to stop spinning and if the picture of the Queen is the one where she has a mullet. For many, the weekly lotto ticket is their chance to dream. A literal ticket out of their current circumstances to somewhere or something better...which apparently seems to be Queensland. “Life could be a dream” promises the advertising campaigns.
Whenever a big prize is announced, conversation turns to how one would spend it. Buying new housing for themselves, children, exotic tropical fish and relatives are popular. So are dream machine cars, boats and zeppelins. Some would spend on trips to faraway lands or majestic horses and unicorns. Others would dress as Mimes, binge on glue fumes and learn Spanish before setting off on all night Steak and Onions bender at Planet Hollywood. When you are rich, you can do what you want.
Another popular talk point around these times is “Would you continue to work?” This is often posed in Media reports on new winners, who still say they’ll continue to turn up to the match factory and paint those little red heads on the stick, just like they have for the last 26 years mostly because they find it rewarding and like the social aspect. I say this is insanity personified. If I was that enamored with my work, with my winnings I could start my own Match factory in Bangladesh and pay pieces of toothpick to talk ‘The Biggest Loser’ with me. If I had suddenly become an instant millionaire, I would never speak of employment again. My bosses would think I was dead and be making plans for a memorial plaque before they learned of my windfall.
The sad reality is the numbers are against us. No matter how lucky the combinations you submit may be- your birthday, the quantity of men you’ve ear tongued (lotto numbers only go to 49 unfortunately), that sporting jersey, a special shape (I’m looking at you curvy little 8!) or even a culturally significant numeral (16, 81,9,0,1.4 and 23 are all significant numbers for New Zealander's as this is the Prime Ministers phone number). The odds are 45,379,620:1. You’d have more of a chance marrying Ellen De Generes in Australia than that! (This reference works for both males and females.)
So why do so many people hope that this ticket, that costs upwards of $8 ($73 US) for a basic entry, is their way out? You could spend that money on anything. Spinach seedlings. A book. A really nice piece of cake and coffee. A really nice coffee table book about Spinach cake. Those things have guaranteed, confirmed outcomes. Vitamin A, edification of the mind, yumminess and...well something to place on your coffee table should you have one. But all a lotto ticket really offers, except for the very lucky few, is temporary hope.
Hope is obviously something people are willing to buy. There is a need out there for it. I don’t think it’s always about the money, or the things that it could buy...although a million dollar bank balance and a shiny new red,Shetland pony would be nice! I think it’s about what it all represents.
The simple thing is that Hope shouldn’t come as a costly paper ticket, it’s free. Unfortunately unlike Hope, National Healthcare Systems aren’t free hence why we need lotteries.