Powerball just this past week hit a milestone when it reached $1.5 billion. Chances are you did not win it. In fact, there is only a 1 in 292 million chance of hitting the Powerball jackpot. Comparatively, there is a better chance of being attacked by a shark (1 in 11.5 million). Much more positively, 1 in 12,500 amateur golfers will actually get a hole-in-one. Chances are best of all, though, of being audited by the IRS (1 in 175)!
Despite the daunting statistics, millions of Americans still play Powerball year after year. Why? Because it is exciting, fun and well worth the $2 to dream big and lose small. Many share their desires to retire early, build their dream home, buy a new car. Interestingly, almost everyone expresses the wish, if they were to win, “to give something back.” People talk about giving money “back” to charities, reaching out to the poor, making the world a better place. But it is not necessary to win the Powerball to do those things. Truth be told, until we learn how to give, teaches the Second Vatican Council, we will never really win big in this life, or in the life to come: “Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium et Spes, #24). So the next time the Powerball reaches over $1 billion, by all means buy a ticket, but the biggest winners in life are those that live generously right now.