$476 million jackpot? It's OK to dream, but ...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What would you do with $476 million?

The imagination runs wild.

The multi-state Mega Millions lottery is headed to that record level for the Friday drawing, after Tuesday night's jackpot, a mere $363 million, again went without a winner.

Forty-seven players came close in Tuesday's drawing, matching five of the six winning numbers for at least $250,000 each.

This is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Nebraska, so it's appropriate to use the chances of being killed by lightning in comparison. According to a Savingadvice.com blog, with about 100 people killed by lightning each year, the chances of a U.S. citizen being killed by it are about 2,650,000 to one.

Slim odds? Well consider that you are up to 45 times more likely to die from a lightning strike than from winning the lottery.

Prefer a biological argument?

OK, your chances of dying from a flesh-eating bacteria are about a million to one, but you're still up to 120 times more likely to die that way than from the lottery.

Still not convinced?

How about this: You are up to 3 million times more likely to die in an asteroid collision in the year 2029 than to win the lottery, according to space.com.

Admittedly, it's fun to dream. When that dreaming gets out hand, however, it ceases to be fun.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services notes that people treated for compulsive gambling last year reported an average debt of more than $22,000 because of their habit.

As part of Nebraska's Gambling Awareness Month, the agency reports that 217 people were treated for gambling problems in the last fiscal year, which ended in June.

How do you know if you have a problem?

According to the Nebraska Council on Compulsive Gambling, symptoms include:

* Increase in time spent gambling

* Working up special occasions for gambling (canceling other plans)

* Exaggerated display of money and other possessions

* Gambling when there is a crisis

* Frequent absences from home and work

* Withdrawal from family

* Diversion of family funds

You can take a test yourself here.

Or, call the gambling hotline at (800) 426-2437.

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