A Whole Lotto Love

Mike was recovering from a severe heart attack, and the doctor said there should be no excitement of any kind in his life for a couple months. He repeated, “None whatsoever!”  So when his wife found out they had won the lottery, worth four million dollars, she was afraid to tell him, for fear it might give him another heart attack. After several days of her worrying about it, she called their pastor. She explained the situation to him and asked for his help, since he was very good at helping people handle grief and stress.  About an hour later, the minister came over and went into the den where Mike was watching TV. They talked for a few minutes, and then very calmly, the preacher leaned over and said, “Mike, I have a problem and I’d like your advice.” Mike said, he would do anything he could for the pastor.  The minister took a deep breath and said, “It’s a theoretical situation regarding Christian stewardship. I am trying to figure out what a normal person would do if they just came into four million dollars. For instance, what would you do if you had that kind of money?”  Mike never hesitated at all. He said the first thing he would do is give two million dollars to the church. And the preacher had a heart attack!

Most of us think of lotteries – with their cornucopia of scratch tickets and nine-figure jackpots – as a modern North American creation.  But lotteries themselves have been around for thousands of years, serving as a popular method in raising funds for various projects and causes.

For instance, the following came into being  with lottery money as part of the funds raised to do so: Great Wall Of China (with winners in various villages notified by white carrier pigeons), Roman Roads (the ancient stone walkways on which the Apostles traveled to spread the Gospel), Catholic Monasteries (the King of France got around supporting the religion with palace funds by allowing the nuns and monks to run their own private lotteries), Jamestown (King James 1 of the KJV Bible used funds from lotto tickets sold in London to finance England’s first official colony in the New World), Revolutionary War (paying for the Continental Army), Washington D.C. (constructing the White House) and Ivy League Schools (Harvard, Columbia, etc.).  Even Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, in great debt at the end of his life, petitioned Congress to let him hold a private lottery of his personal  presidential artifacts in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy.

But here’s the difference.  Back then the price of lottery tickets was kept high, so that only those who could afford to play, did.  And with fewer players, the odds of winning were much greater.  Today, the price of lottery tickets are kept low, so that those who can’t afford to play, do. And with more players, the odds of winning are much lesser.  As a matter of fact, in nation after nation, people in the lowest twenty-percent of the income bracket buy almost sixty-six percent of all lotto tickets.

All this is why you never see the Donald Trumps of the world as lottery winners; they don’t play because they know the odds.  Oh that the poor would realize the same.

“Yes, we have an early retirement program.  We withhold two dollars from each pay cheque to buy you a lottery ticket.”