i Assistant Editor's Letter: When the odds are stacked against you...


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The Independent Online


An email popped into my inbox yesterday morning encouraging me to join a syndicate for the EuroMillions Lottery, for my chance to win a share in a “whopping £60m jackpot”. It went on: “55 chances to win, for just £1.”

I’m not one to turn a bargain down, especially when a single tickets costs £2. So for a moment I was tempted. I started to imagine what I could do with the money – pay off the mortgage, buy an island, give it to charity, my dream of flying into space might not be dead after all…

At this stage I took a glance at the EuroMillions website, which brought me swiftly back to reality when I saw the odds of winning the jackpot: 1 in 116,531,800. Or, to put it a more brutal way, for every winning ticket, there are 116,531,799 others that lose. Even with 55 potential jackpot tickets, there are 116,531,745 that aren’t. Yes, other tickets still “win”, but only 1 in 13 tickets (and five of the 13 prizes average a tenner or less).

Let’s put aside the crazy odds against scooping the top prize for a minute – you also have to share any winnings among others who have bought into the scheme. But that might not be a bad thing.

While it sounds attractive, dealing with a windfall is often too difficult, causing relationship breakdowns and other problems. I cannot begin to comprehend how the sole winner of Saturday’s $590m (£388m) jackpot in the US feels!

On reflection, I’m going to put the ticket money into a pot and save it up – with two draws a week it’ll end up being a nice tidy sum. Then I won’t have to wait until I win the jackpot to go on holiday.

But if I’m not in this slot tomorrow, you know I’ve turned to the dark side. After all, it could be me…

Twitter.com: @jonesrhodri