A Powerball prize of a staggering 1.5 billion has just been claimed. Itís actually kind of hard to get your head around that number Ė to think that one person, in a stroke, could gain such incredible wealth! (Actually, it turns out that three people who bet the same numbers will be splitting the prize.) Itís no wonder that thereís
hype, and itís no wonder that many think nothing of plopping down a measly few bucks for the chance to shed the life of mortal men and rub elbows with gods like Buffett and Gates.
The truth is a bit harsher. The chances of any†single person winning this lottery are so small that buying the ticket is no better than lighting the dollar bills you lay on the counter on fire. It may be fun to think that such a small investment will bring such big rewards, but there are many things we could be doing instead that would have far bigger impacts on the quality of our lives.
For me, watching the over-hyped media event, I reflect on how easy it is for people to get caught up in the hysteria of the Powerball, with such a vanishing small probability of winning, and how hard it is to talk to people about the revolution in the making that is Bitcoin.
When Iím trying to convert people to Bitcoin, I only ever recommend that they buy one, half of one, or even a few bucks worth. People even turn me down when I offer to just give them five dollarsí worth if they just download a wallet. They donít want to take the trouble to download the wallet, and even more, they mistrust what Bitcoin is and donít want to be caught up in something that seems so arcane or so shady.
Buying a lottery ticket and buying a Bitcoin, if you mean to hold it as an investment and not spend it, are the same thing: gambling. With the lottery, you have a 175 million to one chance of winning Ė you have far better odds of getting hit by lightning. Twice. If you buy ten dollars in Bitcoin, the price might crash to zero, but it increasingly looks like Bitcoin is going to be with us a while. Bitcoin might never achieve more than a niche, curiosity status, but the amount of investment and development going on suggests that thereís a good chance that some great innovations and breakthroughs are in the making that will propel it into mass adoption. Bitcoin might be crushed by government regulations, but it is also designed to be resistant to attempts to kill or censor it. Further, a government really going after Bitcoin and trying to make it illegal will likely mean the government is panicking about its finances and control, just the environment Bitcoin is designed to thrive in.
When given the choice between buying a lottery ticket and buying some Bitcoin, I choose Bitcoin every time. Itís a far better (high risk, high reward) option.