Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Tactics for Winning a Powerball Are Simple: Practice Luckiness

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Tactics for Winning a Powerball Are Simple: Practice Luckiness

Article excerpt

I know where you were at 11:22 p.m. Saturday, and it's not just because I have a part-time custodial position with Google that provides a 24/7 satellite feed showing the whereabouts of any American I want to locate (although Luke Ravenstahl was mysteriously hard to track over the weekend, coincidentally again during a snowfall).

No, your whereabouts were certain because I know you're as smart as I am -- even some of the ones who paid to read this in a newspaper, when they could have obtained it for free via the Internet. And because of your humongous brain, which we can only hope you'll donate to science or the Allegheny County reassessment staff upon your death, you undoubtedly bought a Powerball ticket last week like I did and were glued to the telly late Saturday for announcement of the winning numbers.

No one across the country had matched the six Powerball numbers since Dec. 28, which boosted the jackpot to $336.4 million by the time the last ticket was sold Saturday. At that point, the expense of a $2 ticket (the minimum Powerball investment was doubled from a buck on Jan. 15) no longer sounded like such a bad gamble.

The odds of winning the big Powerball prize are 1 in 175 million, or about the same likelihood as Republicans in Harrisburg voting for a solution to the mass transit woes of the state's urban centers. But just because it's a long shot doesn't mean it's not worth a try (which goes for you legislators, too).

Everyone has his own threshold to determine when it's worth it to play the lottery. I'm a $300 million man, myself -- with just $200 million, I'd be worried about running out of cash at age 95 and feeling pressured to suddenly scale back a lavish lifestyle.

Sure, it'd be nice for the old Pennsylvanians who benefit from the proceeds if I played every week, but what'd they ever do for me except make sacrifices to defeat Hitler and gush in supermarket checkout lines about how cute my babies were?

We know that despite the long odds it's possible to win, because every time there's a jackpot this big we see a news conference a couple of days later featuring the eight blue-collar workers who quit their jobs as a result of sharing the valuable ticket -- followed by a press conference the day after that by the lawyer for the co-worker who thought he was part of the group but got screwed out of his share somehow. …

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