Over beers last week, a friend contemplatively asked what I would do if I won
the lottery. Donate the money to charity? Buy a beach house? Buy my parents a
beach house? We chatted about the possibilities, musing on the many ways the
money might change our lives. But then I thought, what are the odds?
Turns out, the Mega Millions lottery comes with odds somewhere around one in
259 million. You’re actually much more likely to become president, a roughly one
in 10 million chance, or have identical quadruplets, a one in 15 million chance,
than you are to win the lottery. And these horribly depressing odds made me
wonder, why even play? Instead of throwing away money on a seriously unlikely
possibility, why not make the lottery something with better odds? Something that
you can guarantee. Why not rebrand the lottery and make it your own?
A half-mile from my front door, there’s a snaking, roller coaster of a trail that
practically begs me to run along it. It slinks beside Vermont’s Brewster River like
a shadow, hugging every curve with abandon. This trail is my lottery. I won it the
first time I spied its unassuming, shaded beginning, and I’ve been reaping the
rewards ever since. Every time I feel like winning the lottery, all I have to do is
lace up my running shoes and head up the road. A win lies waiting beneath the
Instead of winning the Mega Millions, winning your personal lottery could simply
mean biking to work on a sunny morning. A win for you could come along with an
ice-cold beer atop a long-sought mountain. It could be when you watch your best
friend’s face light up as you hand them their birthday present. A lottery with one
in one odds is around each corner. And there’s no cap on how many times you
can win each day.
When you think about the lottery like this, you’ve already won it. Many times.
And each time you win, your next victory is waiting eagerly in the wings. As with
the Mega Millions, there are many ways to put your lottery winnings to use. You
might flash an open-mouthed smile at a stranger. You could give a friend in need
a deep hug. And if I had to choose between hugs and beach houses? I would
choose hugs. Every time.
By Shey Kiester