Dear Lottery Winner, What if?

Dear $758 Million Lottery Winner,

I woke up this morning and discovered the bad news. I was not the big money winner of last night’s Powerball drawing.

Instead, you were.

Congratulations.

Then, I discovered more bad news.

After walking up to my local deli, and plugging my own two lottery tickets under the scanner (I didn’t even bother to check the actually numbers) I learned I won $4 on one ticket and another $4 on the next ticket.

That’s $8 out of your winnings going into my pocket. Eight bucks worth of food out our your mouth and into my belly.

I’m sure you’ll find a way to survive. I just hope you’re wise enough to thrive with such winnings.

To paraphrase Voltaire – or maybe it was Spiderman – with great money comes great responsibility.

Spend wisely.

Last night, after hearing  a promo for the upcoming drawing, I allowed myself to briefly wander into the “What if” land of a Lottery Wannabe.

What if by shit luck and circumstance my numbers came up.

Well, first and foremost, I know I wouldn’t have been pocketing $758 million.

According to USAMega Website, “If the winner opts for the lump sum cash payout, as most do, then he or she is being awarded $443,300,000.”

That’s before the United States Federal Government steps in, though.

Federal taxes would steal $110,825,000 — for “45’s” golf fees? State taxes would eat up another $22 million or so.

I’d have to pay my mother $1 million as the obligatory thank you for raising me, as well.

In other words, the $758 million actually becomes something closer to $310 million.

Still wouldn’t fit in my wallet, but you get my point.

So back to my “What if?” scenario.

I’m sure the first year would be just silly and ridiculous in terms of blowing money like it grew on trees. In fact, I might even have paid somebody to place the money on trees at the house I bought so I could just pick it off and spend it.

But in my 51 years and three months on this planet, I like to think I’ve lived rather frugally.

No silver spoon here, folk. I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck for all of my life because I chose a career that made me happy, even if it left my wallet light.

As a lottery winner, I thought to myself, I could live off of $2 million a year quite easily.

If I have 20 years of life left in me, that’s $40 million spent just living – which means I would have close to $200 million left over, even with my initial spending binge.

One of two things would happen, I think.

I’d either be making a bunch of strippers very happy, or I’d have my name on something.

A gymnasium somewhere, I suppose. Or a new wing of a journalism building at some college campus.

I’d give a lot to education because if there is one thing I’ve learned in a half century of life, education is the way out of the mess this country has made for itself.

Instead of continuing to fall behind, why not start taking the steps to catch up.

Maybe I’d buy a weekly newspaper somewhere and as publisher just run it right, not giving a flying fig about the bottom line of the financial books, but the bottom line of Page 36.

We lost a $1 million last year? No problem. Here it is from my lottery winnings. But we did journalism right!

That’s the way I’d professionally want to go out.

Sadly, in this day age of the Fifth Estate, I’m likely going out as a Walmart greeter, informing the public that there’s a 2-for-1 savings on toilet paper in aisle seven.

But all that, of course, was in the “What if?” world.

In the real world, I won $8 playing Power Ball.

I bought a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, and a 20-ounce coffee for $5.44. I pocketed the other $2, waiting for the next time the lottery hits a couple of hundred million.

Then, realizing I had spent $20 in tickets to win that $8 prize, I started to head off into the “What if” world again.

What if I had that $12 back? What would I spend it on?

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