Every day is Big Wednesday

So, the jackpot for the Big Wednesday lottery is up to $35 million tonight. Whatever that means.

I’ve never bought a Big Wednesday ticket, but (googlegooglegoogle) it costs $5 minimum, and one of the things you have to decide is a heads or tails option for a cyber coin toss.

And then if you win (because you are special and deserve to win), then you get a car and a boat and a beach house and a whole buttload of cash ‘n’ shit. Because you’re special. You deserve to to win. You’ve worked hard.

But the chances of winning Big Wednesday are really really really slim.

From NewstalkZB:

Victoria University anthropologist Peter Howland says people are more likely to die in an plane crash than win Big Wednesday tonight. He says the odds of hitting the jackpot tonight are a dismal one in 38 million, making it a near certainty that if you buy a ticket, you will lose.

“Those odds are so astronomical they’re outside of everybody’s everyday experience … outside of everybody’s ability to comprehend.”

So why do people buy tickets? Well, it helps that there’s a big ad campaign attached to Big Wednesday, as well as extensive media coverage of the big jackpots.

And that’s my general objection to Big Wednesday. It’s not the gambling aspect (there are much worse forms of gambling) or the dumbness of buying a ticket because the chances of winning are so incredibly low. It’s the dumbness of getting sucked in to all the hype surrounding it.

I’m tired of seeing my friends – smart, cool people – standing in line to buy Big Wednesday tickets. It implies that their excellent lives are somehow lacking something. That all the cool things in their lives – their families, the things they create – somehow lack something that only $35 million can replace. $35,000 isn’t enough. Nor is $350,000. No, only $35 million can fill that empty empty hole.

Yeah, you’ve worked hard. You’ve made sacrifices, like not going out tonight because you have kids now and you need to spend time with them while they’re young (How many people do that, eh?) And while you’ve never specifically wanted a boat, if you won Big Wednesday and they gave you a boat, well, you wouldn’t say no to that. You invite your friends over and go for a cruise on the harbour and have a barbecue on the boat and drink pinot gris and Monteiths Radler and other stuff that people do on boats. I mean, it wouldn’t be like that “I’m on a Boat” video (that’s just silly) but it would be quite nice. Yeah.

And surely – because the universe is just and fair and, well, you are are special – surely you’re going to win Big Wednesday and not have one of the five million tickets that won’t win.

Well, if I were you, I’d take that $5 and go down to your local video shop and rent the 1978 coming-of-age flick “Big Wednesday“. Set in the 1960s and ’70s, it’s about three surfer friends (Jan-Michael Vincent! William Katt! Gary Busey!) who go through the turmoil of the late ’60s, Vietnam, love, war, heartbreak and pain.

It’s about how sometimes life is kind of lousy, and how you don’t always get everything you want. But when you look at your life in any closeness, you realise that you actually already have everything you could possibly want.

12 thoughts on “Every day is Big Wednesday”

  1. Ouch!

    My motivations for buying were not about filling any $35 million hole in my life. More about (as you have observed) falling for the dumb hype. As a rule I never gamble at all. (Games of chance are for mugs.)

    Most of the people at my work also broke their usual habits and bought tickets. Even Gareth Morgan, that sensible paragon of finance, was reported to be buying a ticket.

    And on reflection, yes, it’s expensive and stupid, and fairly fleeting as entertainment goes. After all, I could have had a half decent bottle of Pinot Gris instead. Would have lasted an entire evening. 🙂

  2. Yeah, yeah, but… I have a couple of friends in particular back home who are known to entertain crowds at pubs about how you can never win at Lotto and it’s a mug’s game. I’m sure there’s a gal or guy in Masterton who would beg to differ, but that’s really not the point. The point is that it’s something you do, a little thrill that shakes the country just a little bit, all at the same time, a communal experience if you will, something for people to talk about, and to fantasies about, jointly or severally. Because when you buy a ticket like that (unless you do it habitually I suppose) until the thing is drawn we are all winners, and it’s pretty cheap fun.

    (Disclaimer: I didn’t get around to buying a ticket for this thing. I probably would if it had occurred to me, and I’d been out of the freaking house, etc.)

  3. Nice post. 🙂

    Yeah, I bought a ticket. I couldn’t care less about a boat, a car, a house, or any of the other trappings that go with that sort of wealth. I wouldn’t have the foggiest what to do with the money (but I’d have fun finding out).

    What the money represents is freedom and choices. I don’t know what I’d do with that freedom, but when the amount gets up to silly numbers, I get the feeling that I should be pretty much covered in the freedom stakes if I were struck by Lotto lightning and I decided freedom turned out to be flying my friends to a big party in Red Square with mimes and strippers. But the decision to do that right now is not one that’s open to me, without oodles of hard work.

    Yes, the chances are minuscule enough to make hoping for and expecting a win ridiculous. But as much as we like to think of ourselves as rational beings, humans are ridiculous. How else do you explain celebrity upskirt photography?

  4. My feeling is, that if you buy a ticket at least a few hours in advance then you can daydream about what your life would be like with $35 million, drinking radler (yuck!) on a boat (worse!) and such. And if you enjoy that speculative daydreaming as much as watching Big Wednesday, the film, well then it was worth your $5. Not that I bought a ticket, or rented a DVD either. Though I did have a brief speculation about what I cold do if I did win $35M. Just don’t tell the Lotteries Commission that I didn’t pay the daydreaming fee.

  5. For people that buy a ticket every week: a friend once suggested one should save up all the money one would spend on a ticket each week, and then at the end of the year, buy 52 tickets for a single draw. If you get the spread right, you greatly increase your chances of winning – from paper-napkin calculations we worked out odds of winning *any* prize could be as good as 1 in 12.

    Best thing about the system is that you then go in to get your 52 tickets, look down at the money you’re about to spend on a fucking *lottery*, and go treat yourself a nice pair of shoes instead.

  6. huh. i won first division lotto a few years back. i don’t feel like a mug. dumbness is paying $4 for a coffee you could make at home for a whole lot less. you could get at least 2 pairs of *nice* shoes with $1456. coolness

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