Friday, March 30, 2012

Mega Optimistic

One day back in 1991, when his Princeton men's basketball team was cruising along somewhere near the end of what became a 14-0 Ivy record and a national ranking, Pete Carril famously had this to say when asked about how it was going:

"These are tough times for a pessimist."

At the other end of the spectrum from Princeton's legendary basketball coach is TigerBlog's friend Corey, as optimistic a soul as it gets.

As a matter of fact, in the nearly 45 years that TB has know Corey, he can probably count on the fingers on one hand the number of times that Corey wasn't in a good mood and thinking that everything was just fine and that whatever was to come next would be even better.

Corey sent out an email this week inviting TB to join in on the Holy Grail that is the mega millions jackpot, which this week tops $500,000,000.

For $20, Corey would go out and buy a bunch of lottery tickets, and everyone who was in would split the winnings. There are probably thousands of such arrangements going on around the country, and it's likely that you'll see one of those groups on the news this coming week.

Eventually, Corey sent out a follow-up saying that he had 54 people who were in.

TB's advice was to make up some numbers for them and keep the $1,080.

TigerBlog is not sending his friend $20. Instead, Corey has agreed that if he wins - each individual's share would be $9.66 million - that Corey will pay the remaining 11 payments of TB's car.

Corey also sent back a correction - "when we win," he wrote, not "if we win."

TB is pretty sure that if Corey bought one ticket alone, he would have won the entire $500,000,000 - or that his odds would be 50-50 at the worst. With each partner he brought in, though, the odds went down.

The odds of winning are 1 in 176 million. You are apparently 50 times as likely to get hit by lightning as you are to win the mega millions, though as one college professor pointed out, if you buy 50 tickets, your chances of winning the lottery and getting hit by lightning are the same.

The big question of the lottery winner is always the same: Will you quit your job?

If TB won $500,000,000 - keep in mind his odds are even worse than 1 in 176 million since he didn't buy any lottery tickets - he'd probably still work here. What else would he do?

Maybe he'd buy lunch more than he'd bring it in - though there is something to be said for the convenience of having lunch already in the fridge in the office after squash.

And even if TB was part of Corey's group and had $9 million coming his way, he'd still go to Providence tomorrow for the men's lacrosse game.

TB knows he's in the right business because he still gets excited about the games.

What's the point of working in athletics if you don't like the games, right?

It's almost like there are two separate entities to working here.

There's all the regular during-the-week work stuff, the business of putting together a college athletic program with 38 varsity teams and 1,000 athletes.

Then there are the games.

TB has always been fascinated by the idea that he works in a building where people come to see teams play. He gets paid to be in a building that other people pay to get into.

It's the games - an extension of the athletes and coaches -  that really secure the connection between those who work here and the institution itself. It's why there's such pride in working here, because of the fact that your work is part of something that directly represents the school.

There is a unique sense of pride in that.

TB's sense is that many jobs - even really good ones - are all about how the company can help the individual who works there. To the employee, it's about getting back from the company. Maybe there's a sense of pride in working for a well-known, well-respected company.

On the other hand, TB doesn't see too many of his friends who wear their company logo on their clothes seven days a week, like many of the people here do.

TB considers himself extremely lucky to be part of a place like Princeton Athletics and Princeton University.

And he's looking forward to going to Brown tomorrow.

And he feels like he probably saved himself $20 by not getting in with Corey's group on the mega millions.

On the other hand, maybe he's just a pessimist.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If I win, lunch for the OAC on me. ($6 limit at Frist)

- Cornell