I like to tell people that I’m a lucky person. The most common response to that is “I don’t believe in luck” or Ben Franklin’s quote

“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it”

Okay, cute. So if I work really hard at a job, I increase my chance of winning the lottery? That’s the sort of luck I’m talking about: something improbable but good that happens to to a person by chance.

Things like finding a DSLR or a twenty dollar bill in the street. But I’ve never won anything on a large scale. Maybe I should prove that I am lucky? Should I buy a $150 raffle ticket for the house shown above?

I mean, the expectation value would be zero with a ticket price of $44.44 if the house (valued at $4 million) were the only prize and if 90,000 buy tickets (that is the upper limit for the number of tickets sold). But the math is more complicated because there are 1800 prizes total, and you can purchase multiple raffle tickets for a discount (3 for $400, 5 for $550). The website says there ends up being an at least 1/50 chance of winning something.

Okay, tell me what to do.

Photo credit: SF Dream House Raffle

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I think that if we find it reasonable to incur a certain small monetary loss in exchange for reducing the likelihood of a much larger possible loss (i.e. by buying insurance), then we should also find it reasonable to incur a certain small monetary loss in exchange for increasing the possibility of a much larger possible gain (i.e. entering a lottery or raffle).

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