"What would you do with $1.3 billion dollars?"
If you haven't asked or been asked that question at least once in the past few days, you either are totally not getting involved with the big Powerball drawing or you've already answered/asked it so many times that people are now just actively avoiding you. What we're trying to say is that lottery fever has taken over America. We haven't seen a fever this intense since Bieber Fever back in 2009. That was a dark time.
But this? This is utter madness. You're probably in at least two lottery pools, and with the drawing tonight, we're all destined to go through the 12 stages of Powerball mania.
What are the stages of Powerball mania? Glad you asked, because we're here to explain it with the help of a season nine episode of Friends called "The One With the Lottery."
1. Casual interest
"Oh, the lottery? Hm, that sounds like fun. Maybe I'll buy a ticket. Couldn't hurt to drop a couple bucks, just in case."
This is the stage where instead of "dropping a couple bucks" on a few tickets, you get a whole group together and all put in like 30 bucks to get hundreds and hundreds of tickets. Might as well increase your chances, right?
You're feeling good about this! Screw the odds! You're in it to win it!
This is the fun part. What would you do with the money? Pay off your debts? Invest? What kind of house would you buy? This is also the part where you start looking at million-dollar mansions on Zillow and texting your parents that you'll totally take care of them when you win.
Now you're starting to feel silly. You're more likely to get eaten by shark while being struck by lightning while riding a unicorn. This is stupid. You feel stupid. And you start mocking yourself and others for buying into the fantasy.
6. Battling the Cynicism
You're back on the optimism train and you are making no stops in Downer-ville! So when you come across someone who hasn't bought a ticket and is lecturing people about how they're throwing away money on hopes and dreams, you lecture them right back. AKA, one of our favorite Rachel lines from Friends ever:
"I know, the odds are against us, but somebody has to win, and it could be us! And then how you gonna feel? You know, we're gonna be all like, ‘Oh, everybody, let's take our helicopters up to the Cape.' And you're gonna be all like, ‘Oh, I can't, guys, I'll have to meet you up there. I gotta gas up the Hyundai.'"
Either you're the one doing it (hiding tickets or buying more on the side), or you're constantly suspicious of someone else doing it. Do us a favor and don't pat down all your friends before the drawing tonight to check if they are packing secret tickets. Friendships rarely come back from pat-downs.
"Please please please please please please please. Let me win! I'll give half of it to charity. I'll stop spending all my time on the Internet. I'll buy all the animals from every shelter in my state. I promise! JUST LET ME WIN!"
9. Watching the numbers
You're either on the couch watching them on TV or you are constantly refreshing the app on your phone. And then you have to go through all the tickets you have to see if you've become an instant billionaire.
10. Crushing defeat
Not a single number. Not one. Not even close. This is the worst day of your life.
After you break the news to your family that you won't be buying them each their own island, you begrudgingly accept that you never had a shot in hell anyway, and that's OK. At least you took a chance!
12. Consolidation prize celebration
Wait! Your friend just texted you. You won! You guys won 32 dollars! Hell, yeah! Split between 10 of you, that's good enough for a cup of coffee! Or, if no one wins tonight, you could always take that money and buy another round of tickets. And then just show yourself back up to stage one.
Good luck tonight, you guys! And if you win, please think of your friendly neighborhood E! Online writer who could use a couple thousand bucks to sustain our Chipotle habit.