10 November 2006

I don't get out of bed for less than £103,000,000

No-one won the Euro Millions lottery today. Despite odds of 76 million to one, millions of otherwise sane Europeans parted with their hard-earned in order to have no chance of winning all or part of £103m. Of course you can see the appeal. After all, every week Britons have the chance to not win around £5m at odds of 14 million to one, so surely the chance to miss out on £103m at five times worse odds is worth a go?

I'd like to know at what point, exactly, people would reason that the odds of not winning something are so high, it doesn't matter how big the prize is. Pick 10 correct numbers for the chance of a billion? Get 20 numbers right and you win the annual GDP of Kuwait? There seems a paradox at work here, whereby people cannot reasonably assess the statistical probablity of 76,000,000:1, yet seem able to absorb the implications of gaining £103,000,000 in personal wealth.

And the occasional players whose ears prick up when the jackpot hits £50m; at what point does it become worth it for them? People who wouldn't normally play for £5m, but would stake something on £103m. After all, you get so little for £5m these days.

3 comments:

James said...

haha, how very true. people, stay in bed - and save your pound coins, pizza delivery men carry change! feel more than free to visit my blog:

http://islandphilosophy.blogspot.com/

James said...

never carry change, i meant to say

i'm good with change though - i have to be when my first attempts are that shoddy!

PW said...

Yes, I've also been pondering this point about the size of the jackpot influencing people's likelihood of playing. It's completely bizarre and irrational. As Adam Smith once famously remarked: "Adventure upon all the tickets in the lottery, and you lose for certain; and the greater the number of your tickets the nearer your approach to this certainty."