You can’t lose if you don’t play

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You can’t lose if you don’t play

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Life this month was especially hard for Adrian and Gillian Bayford, so they bought a lottery ticket.

No one who feels rich and comfortable would buy a lottery ticket. The winners of EuroMillions’ biggest payout ever said they bought the ticket because they didn’t have money. Adrian Bayford, 41, runs a record shop and Gillian, 40, is a nurse’s assistant. They are average people with two kids who live in Suffolk, England.

Last week, the Bayfords won EuroMillions, a nine-country lottery operated by a French company. Because there had not been a first-prize winner for 14 consecutive games, the prize money soared to 190 million euros ($234 million). The Bayfords hit the “super jackpot” by getting all seven numbers when their odds of winning were one in 116.53 million. Last week, people all over Europe lined up to buy tickets. I might have surrendered to temptation had I been in Europe last week.

There are not many of us who have never bought a lottery ticket. While I gave up after experiencing tragic disappointments a number of times, I had bought lotto tickets hoping to become an instant millionaire. Even though the probability is astronomically slim, we always have the slightest hope since a winner - or sometimes multiple winners - becomes rich every year. Those who are financially struggling dream of changing their lives by winning the lottery. But the vast majority of them only end up spending more money while winning nothing.

As more people buy lottery tickets in the economic slump, they come up with strategies to increase their probability of instant wealth. So-called “experts” who have been studying and analyzing the winning numbers often provide a set of possible winning combinations for free. If any of these numbers win, the winners would give 5 to 10 percent to the “expert” who predicted the number. Some people get together and pool their money to buy tickets. They chip in to increase their probability and split the winning amount based on how much each invested.

Anyone who has kept a lottery ticket in his or her wallet knows how intoxicating the possibility - however remote - of life-changing riches can be. It lets you forget, if only temporarily, the pain and struggle. Half of the revenue from lottery sales goes to the winner, and we have no idea for what purpose the growing lottery fund is to be used. More than 740 billion won ($652 million) has been accumulated.

I had a great dream last night, and I feel lucky. But buying a lottery ticket would not give me much more than a dream.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Bae Myeong-bok

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