Mega Millions: Why I Threw Away Common Sense


Even though the odds of winning were, well, astronomical, Washington Post-Bloomberg financial columnist Michelle Singletary explains why she and her husband gave in to Mega Millions fever and entertained dreams of winning, along with their children.

We played.

My husband and I decided to do a financially unwise thing and take a chance at winning the $640 million dollar Mega Millions lottery. It’s not a smart use of even a dollar because the odds of winning are, well, astronomical — 1 in 176 million. Still I understand the lottery fever, especially in an economy that has whacked around so many people.


We don’t typically play the lottery and in the past have only done so as a lark, throwing common sense to the wind for a chance to dream. During one dinner this week, we joked with our children that we might buy a ticket or two for the Mega Millions. After briefly lecturing them on why playing the lottery is not something they generally should do, we entertained their dreams if their parents won.

“Can we finally get a pool?” our 11-year-old asked.

She emphasized the word “finally” because we’ve wanted a pool for a long time but don’t have the cash to pay for it outright, what with contributing to an emergency fund; keeping money set aside in a “life happens” fund for the expenses that come up all the time such as car repairs; saving for our retirement; our children’s college education, and making extra mortgage payments so we can get rid of the only debt we have before we retire.


Read Michelle Singletary's entire column at the Washington Post-Bloomberg.

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