Mike’s excellent $200 adventure

“So, which $5 scratch ticket has had the most winners here?” I asked the clerk at a Nashua convenience store?

“Oh, I don’t know. Try this one. It’s a newer game,” he offered without much conviction.

And with that, I bought one scratch ticket for a game called, “$200 Frenzy.” When I got home and took a good look at my ticket, I realized that the top prize is, indeed, just $200! Most of the 17 current $5 scratch games have a top prize of $100,000, or 20,000 times your 5-buck investment. Long odds? Sure, but worth a quick five. Mine? A $200 “top” prize is 40-times my investment. Wah wah.

Friend Jon reminded me that, “Gambling is a tax on stupidity.”

To be fair, chances of winning a $100-grand prize are much lower as there might be three or four of those tickets scattered in the million or so printed. The $200 Frenzy game, on the other hand, claims to have 6,191 top tier winners. Better odds, but $200 is not a game changer.

My radio buddies let me have it. Jokingly, of course. Bob Bronson, who hit the career lottery by getting a morning drive job in New York City (big six-figure income), snarked, “Oh boy, is that what retirement looks like?” Dave Ashton, who hosts a radio show in Ithaca shot back, “How else DO you retire from radio?” Both these men were my bosses at WZID. I still hate at least one of them.

Rich from just over the state line in Tyngsboro informed me that, “We had a limited edition $10 ticket in Massachusetts that paid up to $500 with a minimum $50 payout. They sold like hotcakes because people were guaranteed not to pay taxes.”

People in Taxachusetts will do anything to avoid paying taxes, like schlepp their rented U-Haul trailer over the line to buy a dinette set at Bernie and Phyl’s on a state tax holiday weekend. Buy the cheapie because any item over $2,500 isn’t covered.

Idea: move to New Hampshire where we celebrate our own sales tax holiday every weekend. But I digress. Back to scratch tickets.

Judy reprehended me for my elitist attitude by scolding, “Hmm. You knew the odds going in and you bought the ticket anyway? And now you’re complaining?” Point noted, Judy.

Again, in all fairness, I should report that my $200 Frenzy New Hampshire State Lottery ticket yielded a $5 winning prize. 136,401 other frenzy players will also rejoice when, after building a mound of silver shavings, will see they, too, are winners. I broke even and in gambling, a tie is as good as a win.

So now, I have to decide if I want to use the $5 winnings to buy a $5 “Win It All” scratcher where two people will win 100-grand, or another $5 Frenzy where over 6,000 players will win a top prize.

I did notice the lotto commission reminds us to “play responsibly.” My reminder to them, “pay responsibly.”