# Cost of getting every Iraqi "Set for Life"?

I’m talking about the game show with Jimmy Kimmel, where contestants choose between 14 numbers. 10 are white (good) and 4 are red (bad).

Suppose a rich philanthropist plays this game with every Iraqi wage earner, what is the expected prize payout?

Additional questions: Does the payout change much if a limit is put in place on the monthly check so it caps at twice the average income? (to prevent over-benefitting the already rich) Do the numbers change drastically between pre-war economy and today?

I started calculating the expected value of the game and researching the Iraqi economy, but haven’t gotten very far.

Why Iraqis in particular?

As compared to the costs of the ongoing war, mebbe? Not a terribly helpful comparison, I’d say.

It came about from another discussion with a friend. I’ve gotten a little headway. According to Wikipedia, per capita Iraqi income is \$2900.

The maximum prize on Set for Life is 40 years of payments, or around \$100,000 per Iraqi. That works out to roughly \$3 to \$3.5 trillion dollars.

Some interesting wiki numbers:
2006 Population of Iraq: 26.78 million
2006 GDP of Iraq: \$87.9 billion

So, what I need now is the expected value of a game of Set for Life. Also, assuming the show pays out monthly payments, isn’t the present cost of the prize lower than the sum of the payments? That’s the logic behind the lump sum cash payouts being lower than the prize amounts in a lottery.

There is no definite answer as it depend on how one plays the game. However, I did a small computer simulation (happy to post the basic source code here) with the assumption that a player continues until he has 3 red lights and then stops. (you can tell its a slow day).
The total average expectation is only 3.5 moves forward with that basic strategy which corresponds to only 1.5 years payments. I could try changing the strategy but I suspect it wouldnt help much.

The game appears quite rigged against the players. The chance of anyone getting the jackpot seems minuscule.

actually just worked out it is 1365:1 against (11/15 x 10/14 x 9/13 …2/6 x1/5)

last post - time to do some real work.
I can increase the payout to 4.3 steps by stopping after 3 reds or 9 whites (the last few whites are too risky) which works out to 28 months. Its the best I can do for your poor Iraqis I’m afraid

Thanks for the calculation… plugging in the numbers, each Iraqi is expected to win only \$7000, so it only costs our rich philanthropist a trifling \$181 Billion. I hope Kimmel doesn’t have any plans for a while.