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by Christopher J. Burke
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1077: Lottery
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Mr. Michael Keegan, Math Teacher

Go big or go home. Big dream house. With a pool.

Yes, it's that logical dilemma for any math-oriented person. Knowing that the odds of winning are ridiculous, and what you're expected return is -- especially, if you're in a pool with 19 other people!

And yet some people who wouldn't do these things will still take trips to Las Vegas or Atlantic City or any of the Indian casinos. Sure, they'll say, it's about the shows, the experience, the entertainment value! Yeah, and you still plunk down hard cash at a table or a one-armed bandit (which don't even have any arms any more!).

It comes down to this: someone will eventually win. And if, somehow, it turns out to be someone you know, you don't want to be the one who didn't even think of buying a ticket. As rational as the square root of 3, to be sure, but just because it's irrational doesn't make it any less real.

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