Luck O’ the Irish

FIFTY-FIFTY! GET YOUR FIFTY-FIFTY HERE! FIFTY-FIFTY! THE MORE YOU PLAY, THE MORE YOU WIN!

Anybody who has been to a high school football game, band festival, or cheerleading competition knows that call. The fifty-fifty raffle has long been a stalwart fund raiser for these and other family-supported extracurricular activities. I remember some years ago being on the calling end for my daughter’s high school band and color guard counting up $300, $400, sometimes $500 dollars in the Saturday competitions pots. But you don’t expect them at the professional levels.

Last Friday I was at the hockey game and thought about buying a fifty-fifty ticket orpot-of-gold eighty. Yes, at the hockey game. A professional, NHL type hockey game. Our local team’s affiliated foundation uses fifty-fifty raffles at all of the home games to help fund their philanthropic activities. To date they have raised over $3 million for local charities. That means over $3 million dollars have been awarded to lucky ticket winners. I wasn’t one on Friday even with the special Luck o’ the Irish promotion of 80 tickets for a $20 donation versus the routine 40 tickets.

As I saw the total pot announcement during the third period ($57,000+) I wondered what the odds were of hitting that. There were over 18,000 people in attendance. If 10% bought tickets and the average purchase was 20 tickets that would be 1:36,000 odds of hitting the jackpot. Not bad when you consider similar odds in the Powerball (1:36,525 last Saturday) will net you only $100. Actually that will gross you $100. You’ll need to spend two bucks on the ticket. Sometimes even I spend those two dollars. With winning jackpots averaging about 100 million dollars, why not. Well, the odds for one reason.

The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot change with how much is played but you can figure they’ll be around 1 in 290,000,000 (that’s million). The Mega Millions is about 1 in 250,000,000. The odds of winning the Publisher Clearing House $1 million a year for life jackpot are one in 1.3 billion (with a B), but at least you don’t have to pay for one of those chances. Long odds but for big winnings. Still, not something you want to bet the mortgage on.

I have nothing against betting. I’ve already documented my big winnings (Confessions of a Lottery Winner, July 5, 2014) and even helped out at our state lottery drawing (Pressing My Luck, September 22, 2016). But even with the unfathomable amounts that are possible out there I think I’ll stick with the local band fifty-fifties. And if I ever should win one of them, I’ll probably donate my winners back to the kids.

That’s what I think. Really. How ‘bout you?

Have you ever hit it big in the lottery? Sweepstakes? Basket raffle?

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