Yes, I bought a MegaMillions ticket today. Yes, I know the chance of winning is small. But I also understand the concept of the overlay, with a jackpot that’s four times as big as the the odds against. While it’s unlikely there will be only one winner, so that overlay may be erased tonight, I remember a story my father told me many years ago.

He was a high school social studies teacher who never gambled on anything in his life. One day he went into the faculty cafeteria to have lunch with a friend who was a math teacher. Let’s call him Jim. They talked about all sorts of things until Jim paused for a moment and said, “I have to remember to buy a lottery ticket on the way home.”

My father was stunned, and said to Jim, “I can’t believe this. You’re a math teacher. You have advanced degrees in mathematics, you teach a class in statistics, you know the enormous odds against you winning. With your professional background, how can you justify buying a lottery ticket?”

Jim looked my father in the eye and answered, “It’s a dollar.”

Update 10:08pm…I didn’t have a winning ticket. What a surprise.