Powerball is a multi-state lottery game. Since there are multiple states, the prizes are large. As I write this, the Grand Prize is \$203 million. Now I know that the lottery is a tax on people who don’t understand math. (I play by buying one \$2 ticket, because I get hours of entertainment out of daydreaming what I would do if I won, and hay, it’s only \$2. Cheaper than the movies, or even a book.)

I was looking at the prizes and odds, and noticed something odd: California, even though they are playing the same game, awards different prizes. Check this out:

 Match win win in California 5 numbers and powerball \$203 million \$203 million 5 numbers \$2 million \$212,409 4 numbers and powerball \$50,000 \$9,062 4 numbers \$100 \$399 3 numbers and powerball \$100 \$197 3 numbers \$7 \$7 2 numbers and powerball \$7 \$8 one number and powerball \$4 \$5 powerball \$4 \$4

As you can see, the prize structure takes money from  the larger winners and redistributes them to the smaller winners. Matching 5 numbers without the powerball, or 4 numbers with the powerball in California means that 85% to 95% of your winnings will be confiscated (by the time you pay taxes) and the majority of that money will be given to the “less fortunate” people who matched fewer numbers.

It’s a metaphor for the entire state.

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