$1 billion bracket was a bad bet

People will go crazy at the chance to win $300 million in a Powerball jackpot.

They will blow their gas money on tickets and then dream of how they will spend their money when their numbers hit.

They will even enter into agreements with coworkers they don’t even like for the chance to win.

When the Powerball jackpot is $40 million like it is this week, many of the same people can’t be bothered for a single $2 ticket.

Well, the cash jackpot is only half the advertised value. Then, Uncle Sam will take half of that, so you’re only going to take home about $10 million.

Really, who needs all that trouble? You’d still have to go to work on Monday.

Much of the same logic applies to this year’s NCAA Tournament thanks to gazillionaire Warren Buffett.

Buffett offered $1 billion to anyone who filled out a tournament bracket without one mistake.

Almost everybody in the country filled out a bracket hoping to win the $1 billion. People who wouldn’t even consider dropping $5 for a legitimate chance to win their office pool suddenly were stressing out about whether or not to pick Dayton to Ohio State as if it mattered.

People I know we’re already talking about how they would spend the money if they somehow won Buffett’s money, forgetting that the 9.2 quintillion-to-1 odds make the Powerball look like a sure bet.

You could have filled out 1,000 different brackets, and you statistically had no better chance of winning than I did. And I didn’t even fill out one bracket.

After just 25 games, everybody was eliminated from winning the $1 billon. By the time Duke lost to Mercer, only a handful of people in the world still had a chance.

Let me repeat that if for no other reason than to rub it in on fans of the Blue Devils. Only a handful of people were still alive after Duke lost to Mercer, and that was only because those people really hate Duke.

There is still a chance to win a large sum of money, even if you wrongly picked Duke to get past the first round by defeating a team you never heard of before. The top 20 scores will be paid $100,000.

That sum is nothing to scoff at, but most people will. Is it really worth following your bracket so intently for about $60,000 after that pesky Uncle Sam takes his cut?

I haven’t filled out a bracket in probably 15 years because I am usually so burned out on basketball this time of year that I’d rather watch spring training baseball than any more March Madness.

I also don’t buy lottery tickets because I have long lived by the philosophy that the lottery is a tax on people bad at math.

Plus, I can’t take the eventual letdown when I check the lottery numbers on the news. If I would have filled out an NCAA Tournament bracket, I would have bought already blown it on buying a Major League Baseball team in my mind.

I don’t like buying 50/50 tickets either. Actually, I don’t like buying 100-0 tickets because I can’t stand seeing somebody who I know doesn’t need it.

That’s why I’d rather lose my money to a casino than a group of friends at a friendly poker game.

That goes back to my trip to Huntington, W.Va., when the Montana Grizzlies played Marshall for the 1996 national title.

Long before Randy Moss ruined the game, Dr. Buehler put a damper on my flight.

The flight attendant announced we were going to play “bag of bucks” on the chartered flight. So, all of the 137 people on board wrote their seat number on the ticket, and if your dollar was pulled out of the bag you got them all.

As a broke college student, I had my fingers and toes crossed in hopes of winning. Actually, I figured I had to win if I was going to keep partying with the large crowd of Griz fans who made the trip.

Of course, that money went to a doctor. A very nice, but a doctor none the less.

Even when I won a drawing I ended up losing.

During the 2004 Butte High-Anaconda basketball doubleheader at the Civic Center I won the 50/50 drawing, and I got more evil looks than Patrick Haggarty at Planned Parenthood convention as I collected the $364.

Nobody likes you when you win the 50/50 drawing, yet somebody liked me enough to tip off my better half, as they say.

Even though she was only my fiancé at the time, Kim still figured she got half of all my winnings. Her half, she figured, would go toward her wedding dress.

When I got home that night, Kim was waiting at the door.

I sat down and loudly counted out $180 and handed to the girl I was about to pledge to spend the rest of my life with. Instead of taking the cash, she fold her arms.

“You owe me one-hundred eighty-TWO dollars,” she said.

It was worse than dealing with Uncle Sam.

—Bill Foley, who is a very poor mathematician, writes a column that appears on ButteSports.com on Tuesdays. Email him at foley@buttesports.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74.



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