The Associated Press reports there were three winning tickets in the $640 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot drawing March 30. Around $1.5 billion was spent for a chance to strike it rich. One winning ticket each was sold in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland. Each winner will get around $213 million after taxes.
Playing the lottery can be similar to golf in many ways.
Few Excel at High Levels
Very few people excel in the upper echelon of the PGA Tour. GolfLink.com states around 28.6 million people over the age of six played golf in the United States in 2009. Yet there are only around 40 winners on the PGA Tour every year. When one person wins more than one tournament, the number of actual winners decreases on tour.
Spend Money to Make Money
Golf clubs and lessons are expensive. As golfers get older, they have to adapt to different clubs and take more lessons beyond childhood. Plus there are green fees, membership costs in addition to gas and time involved. Golfers have to invest a lot of money before their investment pays off. The same is true with the lottery. Often, regular players of the lottery spend a lot of money for even the chance of having a big return.
The odds of getting a hole-in-one, considered the Holy Grail of golf, are staggering much like winning a huge jackpot. The odds of hitting all of the winning numbers were 1 in 176 million. The United States Golf Register states the odds of making a hole-in-one are 1 in 33,000.
Mega-Huge Earners are Rare
Winners of golf tournaments get a lion's share of the prize money much like those who match all of the numbers in a lottery. At the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, champion Steve Stricker earned $1.12 million. Second place Martin Laird got $650,000. Big winners in the lottery get huge prizes. By comparison, matching fewer numbers means a smaller payout.
Many Tournaments, One Winner
There are over 100 golfers who start a PGA Tour event. Only one emerges as the winner. The lottery is the same way. Usually a few only win with millions of tickets sold. The main difference is that the lottery is pure chance while playing golf does take some skill. Yet there are some elements of chance at a tournament. There is the luck of a draw plus the weather is also a factor. Both of those aspects of golf are not under the control of golfers.
William Browning has covered sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network including golf and local golf courses in southwest Missouri. He currently resides in Branson, Mo.
- PGA Tour