7 Reasons Why People Love The Lottery Despite Terrible Odds

You’ve hit the jackpot! Well, this phrase is more often used as a metaphor, but just think how exciting it would be to hear it in its literal sense!

The Powerball jackpot can go up to a whopping 1.5 billion, which is a great reason to partake in the lottery. But… also, the chances of winning it are about one in 292 million. Before you throw your hand up and leave, hear us out!

There are actual psychological benefits to buying a lottery ticket, which is probably why even people who are generally known to be frugal are attracted to it. Dr. Farley, a Temple University professor of psychology, says that there are 7 common reasons why people love buying lottery tickets.

1. It’s Exciting

Forget winning (most people don’t expect to anyway), lottery-ticket buyers just find it a way to add some excitement into their lives. And what else can you give as much of a thrill for as little as $2? “It’s kind of a thrill ride to see what will happen,” Farley says. “The likelihood of winning is essentially zero, but you’re in the game.”

2. The Feeling of Hope

However teensy, weensy that glimmer of hope you get from buying a lottery ticket you get – you can’t deny its there! Sure, your chances of actually winning are so minuscule it might not even be worth considering, but you still have a chance. “Hope springs eternal, says Dr. Farley, “and I think a lot of people need a little bit of hope these days.”

3. You’ve Tasted Victory… Once

Some lottery-buyers have their hopes fueled by that one time in the past where they did win the lottery – even though it was probably a much smaller amount. Who’s to say you can’t win again – this time, a bigger prize even? They just can’t pass the opportunity up! “It’s called an intermittent reward,” Farley says. “Maybe every once in a while, they win something, so it keeps them going.”

4. It’s Too Big to Pass Up

When the supposed reward is so huge for a seemingly insignificant investment, people find it hard to pass it up. This is something that Dr. Farley calls the “Mount Everest motive.”

“George Mallory was one of the first people to almost make it to the top of Everest. He was once asked ‘Why did you do it?’ and he said, ‘It’s because it’s there.’ If you’re a climber, you’ve got to do it,” she explains further, “[The Powerball] is kind of a Mt. Everest motive for some people.”

5. Everyone You Know Does It

In psychology, there is something known as “emotional contagion”, which is basically that people will do whatever their friends and family are doing just so they can be a part of it. This can be the same for lottery-buying. “There’s definitely a social side to this thing,” Farley says. “FOMO, or the fear of missing out, might also apply to some people. They don’t want to miss out on this thing.”

6. Fun Conversation Topic

Being a part of the lottery-buying public gives you access to a whole new range of conversation topics. Fun discussions about what you would do if you win, what past winners have done, etc. are exactly that – fun! “It’s a conversation piece,” Farley says. “[People] want to stay up on things, so they throw in the two bucks, and it’s almost like an entry into the conversation.”

7. It’s a Hail Mary Pass

Your life is a mess and it doesn’t seem to be getting better any time soon – well, at least you could still win the lottery. Although even lottery buyers may not believe they may win, again, it’s the aspect of hope it brings to their lives that makes it worth it. Dr. Farley calls it a “Hail Mary pass”. “Maybe, possibly, you can win, and that would turn your life around,” she says.