Russian roulette for 12 billion dollars

“Would you play Russian roulette (1 in 6 chance that you die instantly) one time for 12 billion dollars?”

Here’s my geeky pros/cons breakdown.


  • How scared are you of death? I’m not that worried about it. It’s not like I believe in chance. If I’m supposed to live, I’ll live. If not, I won’t. So the upside might outweigh the downside.
  • I think most of us think 12 billion dollars is something only greedy people would want. We think of money selfishly, what we could buy for ourselves, which, yeah, probably starts to max out after a couple hundred million. On the other hand, we underestimate how much we could accomplish with that amount of capital. For instance, with 12 billion dollars, you could literally end starvation across entire countries for years in a row. Or you could pick another problem and, even if you couldn’t actually wipe it out permanently, you could at least band-aid it for a generation or two. If I could save lives with the money, it might be worth it even if the gun was fully loaded.
  • The upside, the 12 billion dollars, is guaranteed. Live or die, bullet or not, the money is a sure investment. I’d just make out my will carefully before literally pulling the trigger, but it’s not like the money part of it is a risk.
  • From a purely selfish perspective, the¬†adrenaline¬†rush from pulling off this bet would be insane. Not only would you feel invincible afterward, you kind of would be, from a human perspective (but maybe that’s getting into the cons section…)


  • You could blow your brains out. Even if I wouldn’t feel anything, this would cause some serious damage to the people who know me, like my family and closest friends. Would the upside of 12 billion dollars be worth the risk to the people closest to me?
  • I’m not a fan of suicide. Beyond just dying and what that would mean to my family and some friends as well, I opposed to it because of the morality behind it. I believe in the sanctity of human life. Playing with it, betting on it, just feels wrong (even if rationally, it’s pretty clear we bet on life all the time, like when we drive a car).
  • Even if the gun didn’t fire, suddenly getting 12 billion dollars could easily ruin your life. Friendships would change. Your purpose in life might get shaken. Your attitude toward other people, definitely their attitude toward you, your responsibility to others – all of this would change, and not necessarily for the better.

S0, would you play? Why, or why not?