John Larson

It happened again last week. That dang carrot on a stick called Powerball.

I figured my one ticket might help the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship fund in some minuscule way. A $2 investment to me isn’t actually gambling, but it does buy you the rights to join in the ubiquitous conversations about what you would do if you won a cool million, like somebody did last week.

We all fantasize about taking care of our family for life, or quitting our jobs, or being noble and starting a charitable trust fund or foundation. Me, the first thing I would do is to get our 1987 Ford Ranger fixed up with a new paint job and new headliner. Okay, you’re right. I guess I could do that now if we cut down on superfluous groceries.

Ever since the pandemic started we’ve, however ludicrously, gotten into the mindset of picking up something like an extra can of beans or bottle of canola oil on each trip to the grocery store. I knew it had gotten out of hand when I realized our stash of Stovetop Stuffing had taken up the better part of a shelf in the pantry. Of course, I have to confess stuffing is one of the big comfort foods in our house, along with popcorn and peanut butter.

Speaking of which, this Sunday is National Peanut Butter Day, which raises the question, which is the pea-nuttiest? Better yet, who remembers the 1961 top 40 hit song, Peanut Butter by The Marathons?

“Well there’s a food goin’ round that’s a sticky, sticky goo.

It tastes so good but it’s so hard to chew.

All my friends tell me that they dig it the most

Early in the morning when they spread it on toast.”

The song never got voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it’s got a catchy hook and they could dance to it on American Bandstand. Whoops, there’s that danged nostalgia rearing its dusty old head again.

Fun fact: Archibutyrophobia is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth. In any case, peanut butter is high in antioxidants, good for your heart, can help prevent certain cancers, keeps your brain healthy, and can help fight stress.

I guess Elvis had the right idea with his peanut butter and nanner sandwiches.

But I digress.

The odds of winning Powerball are 292 million to 1, which is slightly better than the 300 million to 1 of you or I being President of the United States. Full disclosure here: I didn’t do too well in the stats class when I took Psychology in college.

But moving on, according to statistics you have a better chance of winning an Academy Award than winning Powerball. Could it all come down to just pure unadulterated chance? But then again, to quote Edward Everett Horton in the 1933 movie The Gay Divorcee, “chance is a fool’s name for fate.”

I ran across an article on the web that said you have a better chance of being crushed to death by a vending machine than winning Powerball. The chance of that happening is 1 in 112 million.

The morbidly curious part of me found out that I only had a 1 in 185 chance of being killed (yikes!) in Vietnam. When you look at it that way, winning Powerball doesn’t mean a thing, big picture-wise. If you think about it, we’re all pretty lucky even without winning the lottery.

Just for fun, I looked up some random things that are more likely to happen to you than winning Powerball.

Being wrongfully convicted of a crime, 1 in 3,703

Catching a foul ball at a baseball game, 1 in 563

Being deemed possessed by Satan, 1 in 7,000

Dying from using a right-handed product when you’re left-handed, 1 in 7 million

Becoming a movie star, 1 in 1.4 million

Winning an Academy Award, 1 in 11,500

Becoming an astronaut, 1 in 12 million

Being burned to death by your pajamas spontaneously combusting, 1 in 20 million

Being President of the United States, 1 in 10 million

Winning an Olympic Gold Medal, 1 in 662,000

Being canonized by the Catholic Church, 1 in 20 million

Dying from coming into contact with hot tap water, 1 in 5 million

Suffocating in bed, 1 in 2 million

Flying with a drunk airline pilot, 1 in 117

Dying in a plane crash, 1 in 11 million

Losing an appendage in a chainsaw accident, 1 in 4,464

Being killed by radiation leaking from a nearby nuclear power plant, 1 in 10 million

Going to the emergency room with a pogo-stick related injury, 1 in 115,300

Being crushed by a meteorite, 1 in 700,000

And none of these would qualify you for a Darwin Award. Except maybe the pogo-stick one…

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