The Powerball jackpot has officially reached a record high. After no winner was announced on Wednesday, the jackpot value went up to a whopping $700 million for this Saturday’s drawing. This is the highest the Powerball jackpot has been in United States history.
This jackpot value has been slowly breaking records as it has continued to climb. Just days ago, the Powerball jackpot was $400 million. That’s a $300 million hike in a matter of days.
The last recorded high for lottery winnings was $656 million in the Mega Millions jackpot from March 2012. Three lucky ticket holders split up the millions. Up until this point, the largest actual PowerBall winnings were $590.5 million, which were taken home by a Florida woman in May of 2013.
Lottery players everywhere will be racking up the ticket sales as they attempt to purchase the winning ticket that will bring them home millions. The question remains: Why are the lottery winnings are so high? More clearly, why do Americans pump billions into the lottery systems every year when very few people win?
Of course, gambling is easily recognized in Las Vegas, where casinos make billions every year. If you drive down the strip in that city, you’ll see casinos filled with people looking to make their fortunes.
If you don’t believe gambling can be such a money maker, all you have to do is take a look at the housing prices in downtown Las Vegas. It will immediately speak volumes about the untold wealth from the gambling that surrounds the area.
Gambling has become an inherent part of who we are. It’s pervaded the human culture so deeply we don’t always recognize it’s there. How many times in a conversation with a friend have you used the phrase “Wanna bet?” or you’ve bribed yourself or a child to do chores for a prize. Or maybe you’ve entered a risky business venture that has the same odds of failing as it does panning out. All of these behaviors are part of our gambling nature.
Dr. Wendy Walsh, an expert on human behavior, has diagnosed this behavior as a search for the easy way to riches.
“Because we’re in a recession, people love to have a rescue fantasy,” she explained to CNN during the time when the Mega Millions jackpot was at a record high of $656 million. “We have the Cinderella complex — there’s a fairy godmother who’s going to come in and save us.”
Even still, it seems like people would realize their gambling efforts rarely pay off, but it doesn’t matter that very few win.
According to Walsh, “It doesn’t faze them because they’re in love with hope.”
Another part of gambling fever is a desire to fit in, according to Dr. Stephen Goldbart, who’s the author of Affluence Intelligence and co-director of the Money, Meaning, & Choices Institute. He wrote an article in Psychology Today entitled “Lottery-itis!” In it, he shares the following.
“Jumping on the bandwagon is an age-old motivator of psychological behavior. We want to be with the in-crowd, to be ‘part of the movement,’ not ‘feel left out… The map to finding the American Dream has been radically altered. (The lottery) lets you believe in magic: that you will be the one who spent a little and got a lot; that you will defy the extraordinary odds against winning.”
Both findings don’t speak of human beings who are irrational or self-destructive. Instead, it shows the dreamers inside them. They’re looking for what their lives could be instead of basking in what their lives already are. That kind of behavior is an addiction, and, unfortunately, self-destructive in nature.
As a result of cultural conditioning, human beings are still waiting for their fairy-tale endings to come true. They’ve seen so many rags to riches stories in both fiction and real-life, they believe it can happen to them, even though the odds are a million to one. So they pump millions of dollars into the lottery system, bringing us record-high jackpot winnings.
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