How to Win the Lottery

Photo credit: Pictures of Money, CC BY 2.0.

We don’t have a Friday Chat scheduled for today — if you’d like to volunteer, email — so instead I’m going to suggest you read Highline’s “Jerry and Marge Go Large.”

You know that old saying “the lottery is a tax on people who can’t do math?” Well, Jerry does the math on a particular type of lottery — the kind where, if nobody matches all the numbers and wins the big jackpot, the money gets distributed among the people who matched some of the numbers — and figures out how many tickets he’ll need to buy to get a guaranteed return on his investment. (Spoiler alert: he’s buying hundreds of thousands of tickets per lottery.)

Meanwhile, a few other people (including a group of MIT students) do the same math… and that’s when things get interesting.

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