Unless you live under a rock in a cave—or possibly, but not probably, a cave in Iraq—you know that the recent multi-state LotsaLoot jackpot had reached an unprecedented total before the drawing... so much money that although there were multiple winning tickets, each winner will net after taxes enough cash to be set for several lifetimes.
I was perhaps the luckiest of the lucky ones—I had a winning ticket all of my own. I wasn’t in any sort of pool, so I walk away with a full fourth of an estimated gazillion dollars, which I will be taking in twenty annual installments of several bajillion. (The lump sum is for suckers.) But I have made a promise to myself—and now I’m making it to you—that the money will not change me, and neither will it change my commitment to my job. I was elected to the position I now hold, and when I took the oath of this office I swore to discharge a number of responsibilities with dignity and diligence. I do not believe that suddenly becoming obscenely wealthy gives me the right or even the privilege to go back on my word. I will therefore serve out the remainder of my term. Indeed, I might run for reëlection in five years—funding my campaign myself, of course. That’s only fair.
Now, speaking of fair, I would be remiss if I failed to address the question likely on everyone’s mind: Was it truly luck that enabled me to win so much money, or was it hard work? After all, I have for years enjoyed a reputation as a dedicated public servant—one who has never balked at putting in whatever extra hours my job requires, whether I got paid for that overtime or not—and I almost never did.... But the answer is, of course, that it was just dumb luck. There’s no other way to win a lottery!
Yes, the odds of winning any LotsaLoot jackpot are 175,711,536 to one. (I won’t bore you with the math.) Winning a lottery is a purely random outcome, entirely independent of the influence of external factors. On the other hand, most if not all of the unlikely events to which winning the lottery are often compared have variable odds. Whether you might be bitten by a shark, for instance, depends very much upon whether you are in the ocean (where the sharks are). Likewise, whether you’re likely to be struck by lightning depends on whether you’re standing in a field. And whether it’s raining.
That said, there is a flipside: You can not accidentally, unintentionally win a lottery. If you do not play, then your odds are whatever to zero. That zero is important: It’s not just a small chance, it’s no chance at all! To the contrary, however, you can not reduce your chances of being eaten by a shark and/or being struck by lightning to zero. You’re not necessarily safe even in your own home. My high school Physics teacher’s home was invaded by so-called “ball lightning.” A ball of lightning rolled through the second floor of his house! True story. (My admittedly cursory research found no incidents of shark attacks out of water, though I might now commission a study.)
All of that is just to say that, as it happened, I got lucky. Really, really lucky. But you know what? I was already a very lucky man, because I had—I have—a job that I love. I truly enjoy what I do, and for that reason I have every intention of staying on as Commissioner of the Lottery, even though I can now afford not to work. At all. Ever again. No matter how long I might live. Even if it’s literally thousands of years.
And that’s all I have to say, really. I want to thank you for coming out today, and I hope you’ll enjoy the catered luncheon. Please help yourself to a gift iPad when you leave.
Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.