O.K. Fine. I’ll fess up: I am not one of the three guys who got to split that half-billion dollar lottery payoff this week — or was it last? Whatever. So that means I don’t get to divvy up the money with the people who make a point of being civil to me. As if!
But what if I had held the winning number? Or what if you had? What could you possibly do with that much cash?
Of course, we’ve all played the game of what we’d do if we had all of the right numbers…only to end up throwing our hands into the air and saying something on the order of “Really, I haven’t got a clue” after cutting a check for a new BMW. Not that you wouldn’t have some help from almost everyone who had your phone number. And that can get nasty. A friend of a friend of a friend who won the lottery up in Portland said that people with “please” signs would show up outside their dining room window night after night. Plus, every hustler on the planet would be in your face with a deal you simply could not refuse.
I’ve always thought that I would be prudent, making sound investments with part of the money and handing out the rest to worthy charities, and a hundred bucks to the Democratic party.
“They” say that the two worst things that can happen to you are crushing debt, newly acquired, or an earth-shattering windfall. There are endless stories regarding the former, and tragic accounts of the latter. One guy hit it big, made the local realtors happy, divorced his wife and married the cute pharmacist at his local drugstore, then blew away every dime, after which he blew his brains out with a shotgun. True story.
“They” also say to be very careful what you wish for, and so on, so keep those dreams a little closer to terra firma.
Best advice I ever gave to myself, in response to the line “If you don’t play, you can’t win,” was “If you don’t play, you can’t lose.” Worst advice was to be content with always being strapped for cash — it’s not an approach your creditors will ever be happy with. Then again, Gordon Gekko’s philosophy that “greed is good” is hard to live with as well.
I guess it all comes back to the moderation thing. Maybe a few million to line my pockets so that Kris and I could snag a summer home in Paris. That would be appropriate. No big deal. A nifty apartment just a short walk from the Seine and a block away from a Metro station. Could be perfect: I don’t speak French and my neighbors don’t speak English, so there’d be no one to hit me up for spare change.
But it is crazy, is it not? We all participate, knowing full well that the odds of winning are about the same as croaking in an airplane crash or being struck by lightning — neither of which is appealing. By the time the last payout was announced, millions of people had lined up to throw in their own five bucks at a supposed “lucky” liquor store. But not me. I blanched at the very idea of winning that kind of money, plus I couldn’t think of a country I might like to buy.
Still, perhaps in the face of a more moderate sum, I could be persuaded to gamble a few bucks, because like they always say, “somebody has to win it” — even if it takes half a year.
Meantime, I’ll just make do with the quarterly dividend from my Boeing stock: exactly $1.76.