It is driven into the human psyche that if there exists a small chance of something happening to a person, that person might be you. You might refuse to go out in a thunderstorm because you might be hit by lightning. You might refuse to travel by aircraft because there was a report on the news about another missing plane. You might buy a lottery ticket twice a week, every week for the rest of your life because, well, somebody has to win it.
It took twenty years and six months (four years and six months if we are only counting the time from which I could actually buy a lottery ticket) for me to catch the bug. All my life I have seen my Dad carry lottery tickets in his wallet or back pocket, heard my Mum discuss her disdain for people who don’t pay their fair share of the lottery syndicate at work and heard friends talk about what they would do if they were to actually hit the jackpot.
However, it wasn’t until the £66 million rollover last weekend that I had ever considered playing. This wasn’t because a few million wasn’t enough for me to spare a £2 coin, but because of the hype and the energy that this particular draw had created. I was constantly amidst friends talking about how they would spend their winnings and promising that it wouldn’t ‘change’ them. But, really? Could winning more than £50 million not affect you as a person?
The National Lottery of the United Kingdom has been operating since 1994, when it was established by the government of John Major. There have been many winners of the jackpot, defying the odds of a reported 1 in 45,057,474 chance to match all six balls. There were even a total of 133 claimants to one particular draw in 1995 which split the winnings for each down to £122,510. Gutted.
There exists a wealth of time and effort that has been spent on analysing Lotto statistics and attempted predictions, with Derren Brown even having a go. The most common lottery numbers stand at 23, 30, 33, 38, 40 and 44, whilst the most overdue are 5, 6, 16, 33, 36 and 45. But does deciphering the perfect combination of these numbers mean that you are guaranteed to win? No! Should you choose special birthday dates or phone numbers? Should you only play on a Wednesday? Ask a psychic? Or let your chicken walk on a calculator? (There’s an interesting story behind this one that I might follow up with.) No! Because, mathematically, every ball has an equal chance every time and has done since the very beginning in 1994. (However, if I have helped you win, and you’re feeling generous… wink wink)
I have thought long and hard about what I would do if I had been The One. Unsurprisingly, I very quickly came up with a long list of spends. I would have allocated £1,000,000 each to my sister, mother, father, boyfriend and best friend. But that would still leave me with £61 million. So, then I also doled out money to my grandma, grandad, uncles and aunties, and good friends. But that would still leave me with £50 million.
So, then I would have a nice house or two, a nice car or two, a holiday or three, leave my job and pay my bills. But I can’t imagine it is humanly possible to spend any more than £5,000,000 on my own without drastically altering my lifestyle and leaving behind all the people that I love and have built my life around. So, I would have to throw a lot towards charity. Not due to some greater humanitarian sensitivity or because it is the ‘right thing to do’, but in order to protect any sense of self I wish to retain!
Lest we forget that the odds of matching all six numbers exceed the odds of having identical quadruplets, which stands at around 11 million to one. So, to sum up, I’ll still be reporting to work at 9am on Sunday morning.