ENTERING SWEEPSTAKES is a symptom of the gambling mentality the desire to become extremely wealthy by risking a little money, and always against astronomical odds. People who regularly take part in sweepstakes sometimes become obsessed with them. This is especially true of the elderly, and many businesses purchase "sucker" mailing lists to capitalize on this weakness of seniors.

In the United States many aged persons enter twenty-five to fifty contests a week, some requiring five dollars or more in entry fees to collect the big-money prizes that seem guaranteed. Or they subscribe to numerous magazines (which they never read), thinking that will enhance their chances of winning. Some seniors spend as much as $2,000 a month on sweepstakes and scams, often tricked into believing they're winners.

For example, 88-year-old Richard Lusk of Victorville, California, flew to Tampa, Florida, last January, certain he had won $11 million dollars in the American Family Publishers Sweepstakes. He paid $1,700 for an airline ticket so that he could hand-deliver his "winning" entry to the return address on the letter that stated: "RICHARD LUSK, FINAL RESULTS ARE IN AND THEY'RE OFFICIAL: YOU'RE OUR NEWEST $11 MILLION WINNER." Unfortunately, Lusk failed to notice the small print that said he was a winner only if he had the winning number.

According to Tampa airport officials, twenty people, most of them seniors, have flown there in recent years to collect their so-called fortunes. Most of them had never read the small print that declared the odds against winning the big prize to be 200 million to one.

Why are the elderly so vulnerable?

When we're old, our decaying and decrepit body tells us we're approaching death. Everything we worked and lived for everything that gave meaning and purpose to our life will soon be lost. Because we have identified ourselves with our temporary, material body, we are about to be reduced to a big zero. This is frightening, if not overwhelming. Yet in our distorted understanding, money has become synonymous with life, and much money with much life. So winning millions at a sweepstakes would be like winning back our disintegrating life. We could once again become secure, popular, important, admirable, lovable, enviable and enjoy the illusion of feeling like a lord.

But when we know and experience ourselves as the soul which is by nature eternal and blissful and when we develop our relationship with the Supreme Lord, Krsna, in loving devotional service, we don't need the prospect of winning a sweepstakes (or any contest, for that matter) to make us feel alive. In pure Krsna consciousness, our every moment, even when our body is languishing, will be filled with the true thrill of life, as we perceive the Lord's loving presence in His books, His devotees, and in our own hearts. When we have that consciousness, we have everything, for it satisfies us completely.