They peek from my wallet.
Two small pieces of paper with random number sequences printed on them.
They’re most likely worthless. Like all of their predecessors. Banished to the landfill with my junk mail, banana peels and empty Golden Grahams boxes.
But there’s a one in 176 million chance that my having them puts me in the 1%.
I never check the numbers right away.
I let them marinate. Let the dream linger.
A fool’s hope.
I pull them from my wallet. They’re dated 11/03/2013. I even procrastinate at lottery tickets.
I bought eight picks. That was probably all the cash I had on me.
If such a large jackpot had hit in my town a month ago with no one coming forward, I would have heard about it. So I already know I’m not a millionaire.
But there are still $250,000 and $10,000 prizes to be won if the stars align.
A fool can always hope.
I Can Never Win
One of my high school friends and I had this conversation a couple months ago—we can never win.
Because we graduated with 75 kids in a small-town Catholic high school. And one of those 75 won. Her husband and a group of others split a Mega Millions jackpot sometime in the past five or six years.
If winning is already impossible at one in 176 million, how long are the odds of two people from the same small-town high school class hitting?
Longer than my… you know. Pretty long.
Checking the Numbers
I find the Mega Millions winning number archives on the lottery site. The jackpot for the November 5 drawing was $99 million. That’s $40 million after taxes and taking the one-time cash payout.
I could make $40 million last, I bet.
The Mega ball was 02.
I check the last digit on all eight picks. No 02. That rules out the jackpot and the $10,000 prize.
Whew. I was so nervous trying to figure out how to shove $40 million under my mattress.
I check the rest: 02-11-42-64-74.
One of the picks hit the 02, but no more.
Eighty-sixed. Where dreams go to die. With the junk mail. The banana peel. The old cereal box.
I crack a half smile.
Outside, darkness falls. Everything is covered in snow.
The glow of the computer screen highlights the stack of bills in front of me.
I’m going to order some Christmas presents for my five-year-old son.
Feel thankful. For the light from the Christmas tree. For the warmth from my furnace. For being alive.
I want more than simple cash can buy.
You know what the odds of being a person on planet Earth are?
According to Business Insider, the odds of you and I being alive are the same as two million different people rolling a TRILLION-sided dice and all rolling the exact same number.
The odds of us being here are pretty much zero.
Yet, here we are.
Bask in the impossibility of it all.
You’ve already won the lottery.
Just like me.
Once in a lifetime.