“The odds are that, if you’re reading this piece, you don’t play the National Lottery. I say ‘play’ advisedly because, for millions of your fellow citizens, there’s nothing playful about the Lottery at all. Yes, they may say, they’re only having a bit of a flutter, but in the back of their clouded minds, as they stand hunched by the till on a rainy Tuesday morning in Solihull or Swindon, there lurk the phantoms of freedom, effortless sexual conquest, power and possession – all the things that near-limitless money might buy.
“I’ll go further. (Don’t I always?) The odds are way higher that you’re reading these words while standing behind someone in a queue in a newsagent’s in Solihull than they are of that someone winning the jackpot. There’s a 1 in 13,983,816 chance of picking all six winning numbers in any given week’s Lotto draw and, good university-graduate statistician that you undoubtedly are, you know those odds remain the same no matter how many times someone plays, just as it doesn’t matter how many times you flip a coin: the odds of landing on Queenie’s constipated smile will remain absolutely even.”
Read the rest of the latest The Madness of Crowds column at the New Statesman.