Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why I deserve part of the Power Ball jackpot

What follows is my most recent Orlando Sentinel Op-Ed - enjoy!
Once every 3-4 years, usually while standing in a local 7-11 store, I hear a voice that says, “Hey man, buy a lottery ticket.”  Like an idiot, I listen to the voice and metaphorically flush a dollar or two down the toilet.    When I do what the voice says I always pick my own numbers (more on that later) rather than let some computer program steer me wrong.  Of course I know that my numbers give me the same odds of winning the lottery as being struck by lightning while fighting off a great white shark sporting an “I love Donald Trump” tattoo, but so what?

This week, that darn voice was at it again.  I was in line to buy Gatorade wearing my lawn-mowing clothes.  These clothes – some hole-ridden jeans from the last century and a paint-stained “Bigfoot for President” shirt, allowed me to blend in with the Power Ball line without tipping people off that I am a professional economist with countless hours of probability theory work under my belt.

I did not want anyone to walk in and say, “Hey, Professor Chambless, what are you doing in this line?” so instead of picking my numbers I mumbled “quick pick, please” and got out of there.

On the morning of January 14th I was scanning this newspaper when there in front of me was a headline, “Economics Professor loses Power Ball jackpot for stupidly refusing to pick his own numbers.”

The winning numbers were 4 (my favorite baseball player of all-time and the guy my first son was named after); 8 (my high-school baseball number); 27 (my high school football number); 19 (my oldest son’s high school football number) 34 and 10 (my youngest son’s baseball number.)  What about 34?  Oh, nothing big there except this.

This season I am coaching a local high school baseball team.  One of the kids coming out for the team is a kid who reminds me of me back when I was a kid.  I have been discussing this guy all week with my sons.  That kid’s requested number?  You guessed it…..34!   This means all week somewhere, somebody was sending me cosmic hints.    All I had to do was stick with the numbers that made sense to me and then throw in the number sent from the heavens and I would be smoking a cigar right now trying to figure out how large of a cabin to build in Northern Minnesota.    I was even planning to give most of the money away!  Millions to my church.  Hundreds of thousands to friends and family and dozens to people I do not like much.

Since I was supposed to share in this incredible jackpot and was victimized by social pressure that economists should not buy lottery tickets, I am demanding the following.

I want to submit my case to the government and have it examined by the greatest lie-detecting machinery known to mankind.  When I pass this test, I want to government to set aside a portion of the tax revenue it will collect from the Power Ball and start a new welfare program for all truth-telling lottery losers.  I would be the first recipient of tax dollars from this fund.

After all, just because I made a poor choice and refused to put in the effort to work on my numbers does not mean I am not entitled.  I think in this case I can show that I am as deserving as other folks who ostensibly make the same claim on our tax dollars every day.

In the meantime, I think I will take my case directly to the three people who won and see if they would be willing to help out an economist who buys stupid lottery tickets while wearing Bigfoot shirts.