Staff writer Patrick McGuire tells me I'm the person lottery officials are targeting. I've never bought a ticket. I don't know how to play, and I'm embarrassed to admit it to the clerk. Plus I have a moderate amount of disposable income -- at least more than a lot of the people who play the traditionally blue-collar games, Pick 3 and Pick 4.
"If they can hook you . . . " he says.
He brought me some figures from a study by the Heartland Institute. (For more on it, see our cover story.) It's a chart entitled "What Chance Do You Have?": Seeing a no-hitter (1 in 1,347), finding a pearl in an oyster (1 in 12,000), being dealt a royal flush in 5-card stud (1 in 649,739), having quadruplets (1 in 705,000) -- I'd rather win the lottery -- being struck by lightning (1 in 1,900,000) and winning Lotto (1 in 12,913,583).
So I asked Patrick if he ever plays, and he admitted to buying Lotto ticket once or twice a year. He's always convinced he's going to win, and gets angry when he doesn't. He isn't interested in the other games -- his theory is that you only have so much luck in life; if you're going to gamble, you might as well go for a million dollars, not waste it on a $2 win.