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