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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

An experience with USA lottery ticket

Lottery ticket is something I do not believe in. Although I remember getting an absolute zero in the probability exam in my IIT coaching classes, the probability that I would win a lottery ticket, is a thing I am absolutely sure about.


I would rather spend a dollar for a cup of hot cappucino available in the pantries rather than buy a lottery ticket and wait on it for a month or so to ensure I did not win. But, today as I went to work in the morning and stopped for coffee, I found a person buying a lottery ticket at the pantry. In my 7.5 years in USA, I have never seen a lottery ticket. This made me curious. Of course it would be silly to ask the pantry staff to give me one so that I can look at it and give back. So, I decided to become more stupid.

I bought a lottery ticket - $1.

This was a ticket the result for which I did not have to wait for. It was a "scratch and see" - instant ticket. I was happy that I did not have to wait for a considerable amount of time to make myself sure of being a loser. I need not even contemplate on what I would be able to do if I got a free $1000 (well..I am modest in expectations). So there was the ticket in my hand staring at me..Waiting to be scratched...

There were 9 dots arranged in tic-tac-toe fashion concealing the underlying numbers/figures and 1 more which would tell me the prize. Thus I knew neither the prize nor if would win. Now that makes it doubly complicated. With most of the Indian tickets, you would know the price. Here even the price was unknown. So the actual probability of winning a good or decent prize has gone down further..I told myself.

The condition was that I must get the 3 figures of shrimp on the diagonal or a line of the tic-tac-toe. I scratched them... And to my unbridled excitement, I found my theory "I can never win a lottery" substantiated ! Yes! I did NOT win ! Aaah..Predictable ain't it ? Life is simple in that case !

Now for the prize money had I won the lottery. The big dot was waiting to be scratched. I was wondering if it was really necessary to scratch it since I had not won anyway. But the curious cat in me urged me to scratch that too. And I scratched off..

I could not believe myself ! It was simply incredible ! Guess what the price money was ?!


I could not suppress my laughter to know how probability works out in my case ! I spent a dollar and some of my time to sratch 9 buttons to find I am a loser. And one more scratch tells me that the "prize money" would have just made me break-even !

So technically speaking I lost a dollar, and some time in search of a free dollar. There can be only one term to call myself - superloser. Well with the curiosity being suppressed brutally, I have become utterly confident about my chances with such things. I would be better off saving the dollars I earn than go behind some free prize money. A lesson very well learnt !!