Market Overview

Mega Millions Costs Three Times More Than It Pays

With the craze over the $640 million Mega Millions payout reaching a fever pitch today, workers across America are dreaming up ways to spend the money. While the winner (or winners) may find their lives changed after the numbers are announced tonight, the buzz over the lottery has cost the country almost three times as much as the payout.

Benzinga's back-of-the-envelope analysis suggests approximately $1.794 billion was burned on Friday alone in wasted productivity.

Polling twenty of our employees, we found that approximately every worker spent roughly one half-hour engaged in some activity related to the lottery. These activities included things such as setting up an office pool, discussing ways to spend the money, or arguing over whether one should take the lump sum or collect the payments.

In the US, the median salary is roughly $46,000. Assuming 50 weeks worked in a year and forty hours per week, the average employee earns roughly $23 an hour. Using our half-hour figure, that means that the average worker will have wasted $11.50 in wages on the lottery.

According to the latest figures, there are 156 million american workers.

Multiplying the lost wages by the number of workers equates to $1.794 billion dollars--just under three times the jackpot's value.

If one extends the analysis to this entire week, which started with an already non-negligible $300-million-plus Mega Millions, the true cost of lottery daydreaming to US employers amounts to at least $4 billion.

Should no one win tonight, the payout for Tuesday's Mega Millions will likely be twice as much. That means billions more lost on Monday and Tuesday.

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