While it’s nice to imagine the best things in life are free, the truth is that everything has a price – including money. It just depends on what you’re willing to put on the line. For a chance at a million dollars, what would you give up? Your weekends? Your life’s savings? What about your car? And what would you be willing to do for a chance at even less?
To see who’s listening when money talks, we surveyed more than 2,000 people to see how far they would go for the largest payoffs. Who are the biggest risk takers? And what are people actually willing to give up for a fat wallet? Keep reading to see what we found.
Betting Your Life's Savings
Sometimes, you have to spend a little money to make a little money. Our survey respondents have no qualms about risking their savings – especially when the odds are in their favor. For example, 93.2% of survey takers said they would be willing to bet $1,000 for a 99% chance of winning $10,000. Even more, despite an only 5% chance of winning $100 million, 71.3% of those we surveyed would easily hand over $20. Little risk, big reward?
What about betting $100 for a 20% chance of winning $1 million? Almost 71% would be down for this wager. Interestingly, about 69% of respondents would be willing to bet their wallets for a 70% chance of doubling the money in their bank accounts. At the same time, though, only a bit over 28% would bet their next paycheck for a 60% chance of doubling it.
Hypothetically, the chances of winning money look pretty good. In the real world, however, ending up in the black could cost you a lot more. According to two years’ worth of data from the Wall Street Journal, only 11% of gamblers ended up actually winning during this time period – most of which was under $150.
Waging the Life of Others
Some relationships in our life are priceless. Some are not. When it comes to betting on the life of others, our respondents were less likely, overall, to make a wager. However, there were a few things they were willing to do. Almost 38% would bet their friend’s current car (without him or her knowing) for a 90% chance of winning them a new Lamborghini. While it may be an initially shocking thing to do, a new car wouldn’t be the only thing they would end up scoring (brownie points, anyone?).
Not so selfless are the 30% of survey takers who indicated they would bet the lives of 10 strangers for a 75% chance of winning $1 billion. Additionally, nearly 28% would bet their favorite pet’s life for a 50% chance of winning $100 million. Yikes! Probably even worse, 20.5% would bet their best friend spending 10 years in prison for a 95% chance each of them would win $100,000. Even a small chance of going to prison is too much of a chance.
Shockingly, only 5.5% of respondents would bet the life of their first born child for an 80% chance of winning the cost of their college education, and only 16.2% would bet their loved one’s life for a 95% chance of winning $100 million each.
Putting Your Own Life on the Line
It’s a different story when survey respondents bet their own possessions for money. Whereas about 38% were willing to bet their friend’s current car, only 32% were willing to risk their own car for a 50% chance of winning a new Lamborghini.
On the other hand, respondents seem to be more confident betting on themselves. Previously, only 30% were willing to vie for $1 billion with the lives of 10 strangers. Even with a smaller chance of winning, 31% would bet 10 years of their own life for a 50% chance of getting $1 billion. Future weekends beware: 17.3% would bet them all for a 70% chance of being able to retire tomorrow. What’s two days a week when you might never have to work again?
Only about 9% would be willing to give up an arm for an 80% chance of winning $100,000. Even less, only 5.7% of survey takers would put 10 years spent in prison on the line for a 75% chance of winning $100,000. It turns out, people don’t like prison – not even for a huge sum of money.
Betting by Gender
Risk taking and putting everything on the line for quick cash? Both genders are willing to ante up. Men, however, might be willing to risk a little bit more.
Based on our findings, most survey takers (both men and women) saw no problem with betting $100 for a 20% chance of winning $1 million. About 81% of men said yes to this proposition, while nearly 60% of women agreed.
And while it might be a bit of a gamble, 42.5% of men indicated they would be OK betting $1,000 for a 50% chance of winning $10,000. Women (23.4%) weren’t as convinced. For the rest of the categories, women were more hesitant to lock in their stakes – especially in regard to spending 10 years in prison.
Even with a 50% chance of Sparky making it out alive, only 15% of women are willing to risk it. Contrarily, 38% of men are all-in for the possible heartbreak. Furthermore, about 40% of men would bet the lives of 10 strangers for a 75% chance of winning $1 billion, while only 19% of women would be on board.
Betting by Generation
According to The Huffington Post, the propensity to take chances tends to change as we get older. People actually do become more cautious as they age. Which generation is more willing to take the plunge and bet all or nothing? And what kind of bets are all generations willing to claim a stake at?
If it concerns a relatively low risk, such as $100, then all three generations are happy to place a wager. For example, almost 72% of millennials, 71% of Gen Xers, and about 63% of baby boomers are willing to bet $100 for a 20% chance of winning $1 million. However, similar risks stop there. Only 10% of baby boomers are willing to tempt fortune in exchange for the lives of 10 strangers, and even less (about 8%) are willing to play the ponies with a loved one’s life.
Millennials and Gen Xers, on the other hand, don’t have as many qualms about putting things on the line for money. Around one-third of survey takers in the two generations would bet $1,000 for a 50% chance of winning $10,000. And 36% of millennials and about 23% of Gen Xers would bet the lives of 10 strangers for a 75% chance of winning $1 billion.
Betting 10 Years, by Region
Would you bet 10 years of your life for a 50% chance of winning $1 billion? If you live in the West, you might. Looking at the percentage of survey takers in each region who would agree to take this gamble, almost 36% of respondents in this side of the country said yes. With the lure of Las Vegas, they might be feeling pretty lucky.
Others across the U.S. are a bit more cautious. One-third of responses in the Northeast indicated they would be up for the task, while only about 30% of respondents in the Midwest would agree to lay odds for $1 billion. Even those in the South don’t seem too thrilled about taking this risk – about 27% of survey takers in this region would bet 10 years of their life.
This map would probably look a lot different if the odds were more of a sure thing.
Betting the Lives of 10 Strangers, by Region
Finally, when we asked our survey takers if they would bet the lives of 10 strangers for a 75% chance of winning $1 billion, the West was, once again, more eager to take on the challenge. Based on our findings, 32% of people in this area would play heavy for the money. And what about the Northeast? Thirty-one percent of respondents agree.
The Midwest and South, however, would probably rather play along with something else – about 29% of survey takers in these two regions indicated they would be willing to sacrifice people they didn’t know for $1 billion.
Moral of the story? It might be a good idea to make friends with everyone you know. You never know who’s going to bet on your life.
Big Bets, Bigger Risks
We all love money. And a lot of us are willing to go pretty far to get it. That includes betting our own money, ourselves, and the possessions and lives of others. We uncovered some pretty interesting (and somewhat crazy) wagers. For example, 93% of respondents said they would be willing to bet $1,000 for a 99% chance of winning $10,000.
They were also less willing to wager their own car than their friend’s when it came to winning a Lamborghini. Additionally, people, especially those in the West, weren’t above betting 10 years of their life or a stranger’s life for $1 billion. Some did, however, seem to draw the line at sacrificing their beloved pets.
What does this mean? While you should never harm others to gain more money, it might just be a good idea to wager that $20 you’ve been thinking of. If you never try, you never win.
We surveyed 2,000 Americans about what they would be willing to bet given various odds and collected demographical information from every respondent. We then organized the data and visualized the result.
If you’re looking to win big, feel free to share our content for non-commercial purposes. The only stakes: You link back to and credit the author. That way, readers can take a gamble and learn more about this project or any other related research.