Why I Will Never Win the Lottery

Because I’ll never buy a lottery ticket. Here’s why….

Steven Yates
4 min readJan 28


Photo by Waldemar on Unsplash

Sean Kernan’s article on the story of Tonda Dickerson, the waitress who won $10M on a lottery ticket a customer left her as a tip and then saw her life fall apart, got me thinking. What began as a comment intended for his page quickly grew too long. The results have ended up here.

I won’t recount the details of Dickerson’s story. You can read Kernan’s piece here.

I’ve never understood the fascination many people have with the idea of winning the lottery. Maybe that’s because I used to teach logic to university undergraduates.

With millions of people buying these tickets, what are your chances of winning? Realistically.

I figure them to be, not much above zero. This is a game in which the house always wins. Where, after all, does the money to pay the occasional Tonda Dickerson come from?

It comes from the multitudes of poor saps who believe they actually have a fighting chance at getting their hands on some free money.

A small part of me doesn’t blame them entirely. Suze Orman, the financial guru, noted the dire straits many Americans are in financially, given the worst inflation in decades. We’re in a “financial pandemic,” Orman recently put it, with rents having tripled in some locations and mortgages also having climbed higher than they were before Captain Covid came to call.

That article cites a recent survey indicating that 74 percent of Americans surveyed were living from check to check, 54 percent have had to decrease their savings over the past year, and 67 percent would not be able to come up with $400 for an emergency.

Hard as it is, financial temptations are one of those areas where we must check our emotions and identity what we can control.

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus observed that trying to control what we can’t control only leads to grief. And failing to control those things within our control only compounds the grief!

Spending money on lottery tickets is a choice.

Resisting the temptation to jump at the impossibly low probability that you’ll actually win, is also a choice.



Steven Yates

I am the author of What Should Philosophy Do? A Theory. I write about philosophy (especially the Stoics), health and systems, and the future if we have one.