I never used to buy tickets for the National Lottery. I believe the term I once coined was the idiot tax, as you are as likely to get struck by lightning while doing the Riverdance in an underground bunker with Sting than win the jackpot (or some other loopy statistic). But now, as a semi-regular buyer of lotto tickets, I feel I may have dismissed the lottery in an overly cynical manner. I realize that me being cynical may come as a shock to many of you.

The idiot tax is an unfair title. A much more suitable name would be the hope tax, you know damn well that you won’t win it, yet there is that slightest hint of “you never know”. Remember that massive giant starry hand from the adverts that floated through the sky, pointed at someone and boomed “It could be you”? Disregarding the strange qualities of a disembodied, talking hand made from celestial materials, one thing holds true. You have to be in it to win it, and someone will win it. Probably won’t be you, but you never know.

I still have a slightly twisted approach to the National Lottery. There are times when the jackpot rolls over and over, up to a ridiculous amount of money, and it was on these occasions that I would think to myself, “this amount is satisfactory, I shall buy a ticket now”. As if the rock bottom Euromillions Jackpot of £12 million wasn’t worthy of my attention. That used to be my mindset. Now every time I fail to win the Holy Grail and it rolls over, I am still happy, as there will be a bigger jackpot for me to win the next week. And the week after and the week after, until some bastard wins my jackpot and it goes back to the miserable sum of £12 million again. How dare someone win my jackpot?

I used to get my hopes up the night before a draw. I would go to sleep with the ticket on my bedside table so I could check first thing in the morning if it has finally delivered me to financial superstardom. I would go to sleep thinking of all the things I could buy with my newfound fortune. It was at this point that I realized I don’t dream very big. When you become a multi-millionaire and all you can think about is getting a new laptop, you should probably be aiming a little higher.

A while back I had a moment of fleeting hope and ecstasy. One morning I drifted online to check my numbers and look at what I hadn’t won to find I had matched 5 out of 7 numbers on the week of a £113 million jackpot! I had matched 3 normal numbers and got both of the lucky star numbers. I clicked the prize breakdown button giddily thinking of the riches that were ahead of me. The link told me that the prize breakdown had not yet been calculated.

Oh National Lottery, you naughty tease. I accepted that the prize probably wouldn’t be enough to retire on, far from it in fact, but I held out hope that maybe a holiday was in order. I definitely fancied a trip to Canada. Perhaps there would be enough money left over to buy that laptop? I was only 2 numbers off a £113 million jackpot after all.

So how much did I win? Wait for it…..A life changing £62! Had I matched one more number, I would have won hundreds of thousands. Another number on top of that, 113 million was waiting for me. As happy as I should have been with £60 profit on my £2 investment, I felt quite angry as I collected my winnings much to the amusement of the git of a Tesco employee who handed me my pittance.

Ever since the “Issue of Sixty-two”, I have toned down my expectations somewhat, yet continue to pay my hope tax. Deep in my heart of hearts, I know that my grand jackpot win is as inevitable as a Jedward reference in any blog written by me. In the meantime, I will continue to make pathetic purchasing plans the night before a draw to prepare for the time I finally win. I could really do with a new toaster.

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