Are We, As A People, Really This Dumb?

I really hate the "cry baby" portion of America…I really do.  Case in point: 'Zero' chance lottery tickets stun some players

When Scott Hoover bought a $5 scratch-off ticket in Virginia called "Beginner's Luck" last summer, he carefully studied the odds. Even though he figured his chances of winning were a long shot, he felt the odds were reasonable.

Hoover, a business professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, wasn't surprised when his tickets didn't bring him the $75,000 grand prize, but he was shocked to learn the top prize had been awarded before he bought the ticket.

"I felt duped into buying these things," Hoover said.

He discovered the Virginia State Lottery was continuing to sell tickets for games in which the top prizes were no longer available. Public records showed that someone had already won the top prize one month before Hoover played. He is now suing the state of Virginia for breach of contract.

The mind boggles. You really have to be an academic to not understand the concept of "scratch off" lottery games.  All you have to do is think about it for 10 seconds to realize even before the top prize has been awarded you can buy tickets that have "no chance."  For example, you may never visit the town the tickets is randomly shipped to, or you may never visit the particular store selling the top prize.  Therefore, all of the tickets you buy have "no chance" to win the top prize.

Somebody with a PhD in Business needs this explained to them?  Really?  (There goes Washington & Lee off the list of schools I'd willingly send my children.)

Of course I'd feel better if the story also contained a regular person style "voice of sanity" perspective.  No such luck.

In New Jersey, tickets for the "$1,000,000 Explosion" scratch-off game were still on sale last week, even though the million-dollar grand prize was already awarded.

Lottery ticket buyers outside a New Jersey convenience store were stunned to hear the news.

"Oh really? I didn't know that," one shopper told CNN. Another added, "That's just not right."

I forget….how many generations of imbeciles was enough?

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10 Responses to Are We, As A People, Really This Dumb?

  1. martian says:

    It does rather boggle the mind, doesn’t it? I could see the good professor getting upset if the grand prize was the only prize in the scrath-off game and they were still selling the tickets. However, pretty much all of the scratch-off games I have ever seen have multiple prizes. Thus, it makes sense to continue to sell the tickets until all of the prizes have been awarded. I’m assuming that the state lottery commission has kept track of exactly how many winning tickets there are for each prize level and will stop selling tickets for that particular game once the prizes have all been awarded. If there was only the one prize or if the state kept selling the tickets after they knew that all of the prizes had been awarded and there was truly no chance to win anything the prof might have a case. However, unless he can prove that’s the case, I’m afraid he’s wasting his and the court’s time. Another frivolous lawsuit hits the books!

  2. Larry Sheldon says:

    Seems to prove the assertion that buying a ticket does not materially improve your chances of winning.

  3. MikeM says:

    "I’m assuming that the state lottery commission has kept track of exactly how many winning tickets there are for each prize level and will stop selling tickets for that particular game once the prizes have all been awarded."Why do you assume that, martian? Call me "cynical", but what’s to stop the state (or Commonwealth, in this case) from collecting as much "tax on the mathematically challenged" as possible? However, I do agree with your other point.

  4. martian says:

    MikeM, I share your cynicism, I make that assumption only because "collecting as much tax on the mathematically challenged as possible" as you so prosaically phrase it would be likely to leave the Commonwealth (or state) open for liability in a lawsuit such as the one that was filed by the good professor. It has been my experience that states tend to try to cover their butts as much as possible in any case where they might be sued. I suppose it is possible that some lottery administrator would get greedy but I would bet they have several lawyers on staff to advise them on the best ways to get as much money as possible out of the public without being likely to lose a lawsuit.

  5. sam says:

    Like MikeM says, "tax on the mathematically challenged" pretty much covers it.  Complete this sentance: "A _____ and his money are soon parted."  Hint: The word has four letters.

  6. BlogDog says:

    I have great respect for W&L as an institution of higher learning but when i read this in the local noisepaper, I was nonplussed. Holy mother of pearl, is there *nothing* that somebody won’t sue on?

  7. Lemur King says:

    My mother used to tell me (as I was attending college):Education is no substitute for intelligence.  I think she was trying to tell me something…. hmmmm.

  8. Gaius says:

    It is quite possible that the top prize in a scratch-off game could be won on the very first ticket sold. That is, as they say, the breaks. Lotteries are nothing more than cash cows for the various states that use them. They prey – quite deliberately – on the rather unlovely human trait of sheer greed.

  9. Rich Horton says:

    Lotteries are nothing more than cash cows for the various states that use them. They prey – quite deliberately – on the rather unlovely human trait of sheer greed.
     
    Exactly.  That is why I’d wish that a business prof’s response was more along the lines of "How do I get a piece of the action?"   I guess all business profs are business failures.
     
    Those business folks who can succeed in business.
    Those who cant teach business, buy lottery tickets and sue the state when they dont win.

  10. Gaius says:

    Yeah, I agree, Rich. If this guy is teaching business, I am sorry for his students. Seriously.

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