God, there is nothing worse than smug, sanctimonius dimwits like John Oliver. With nonsense like what he said you always inevitably get the people that think they are smart by saying the lottery is a tax on the poor and the stupid. These are the same people that then go spend $5,000/yr on cigarettes and another $10,000/yr on alcohol. The fact of the matter is there is no other investment that you can spend a buck or two on with the potential to make hundreds, thousands or even millions on. With regards to the odds, I have 3 friends that have won the Mega Millions, two in one drawing and the other guy in another. I travel across the country a lot and in the last few years I have just missed winning the top prize in 3 different 5 digit games in different states. I missed winning Florida's Fantasy 5 earlier this year by 1 number which would have been $121,000 at the time. The other two games that I missed winning by 1 number would have netted me between one million to two million dollars or so, I can't remember the exact amounts. (I have a picture of my ticket from Florida but can't seem to upload it.)
I estimate I spend about $900 or so annually on lottery, both draw games and instant tickets. On a bad year I will win back $200 to $300 of that money, although usually I make more than I spend. Even if I saved that $900, invested it, everything went perfectly and I made 7% interest annually for 30 years, it would only amount to $78,000 so it would still be better for me to take a chance with a state lottery and potentially win $100,000.
John Oliver is the kind of guy that will make a criticism like this and then go to dinner and spend $1,000 on a bottle of wine, so it is best to not take advice from people like him. Someone in Missouri ignored people like him, spent $2 and made $200 million on Saturday.
I would like the John Olivers of the world's take on the return rate on cigarettes, liquor, dating, driving cars that get less than 40 mpg, spending more than $120k on a house, shoes that cost over $40, food that cost more than $3, video games, clothing not bought at anywhere other than Goodwill, not cutting your own hair and hundreds of other things people do that cost more money than they need to spend. I can dissect anyone's financials and find numerous items they either don't need or are spending way too much money on.
Quite frankly with the cost of housing, cars, health care, college and everything else, and it rising all the time, if you are poor and you are not considering playing the lottery, you are in fact pretty stupid. Your chances of being able to keep up with the bills, protect yourself from a catastrophic life event or be able to retire are virtually nill unless you win the lottery. Hell, if you are middle class all this applies to you also.
I don't drink or smoke, so I will happily continue to play my $900 annually on lottery, maybe I should spend even more.