I’ve never played the lottery very much. Vegas style gambling I understand — even if you win just a tiny amount, there’s that instant gratification that makes pulling the lever on the slot machine again oh, so tempting. (I know, they’re all electronic now, no more levers. Allow me my moment of romanticism.) But not so the lottery. You win five bucks playing penny slots, you get pumped and try to win more. You win five bucks playing the lottery, you think, “Hey… five bucks.”
Still, with everybody buzzing about the current MegaMillions jackpot, estimated at a whopping $540 million, it’s hard not to get drawn in. I threw a dollar into my work lottery pool, not because I expect to win but because I can’t risk being the one teacher who isn’t in the pool if they do. And I bought a ticket myself, which I almost never do. Yeah, I know the odds of winning are astronomical — I’ll get struck by lightning while riding an ostrich before I win one of these things. But as bad as the odds are, sooner or later somebody wins. So why not take your chance that it may be you?
Anyway, as I’ve said before, you don’t so much buy a lottery ticket as you buy a one-dollar license to dream about being rich. You can daydream any time you want, of course, but having a lottery ticket in your pocket makes it just a little more tangible, a little more possible, and that makes the dream more satisfying. So I’ve thought about it, about what I would do if I hit that 500 million-plus dollars tonight. And I’ve enjoyed thinking about it…
- First, I do the boring stuff. Pay off loans, credit cards, and so forth. Find a trusted financial advisor to set up some funds that would keep accruing interest and make damn sure no matter how stupid I am I’d never have to worry about money again.
- I know most people say they wouldn’t quit their jobs if they won the lottery, and there’s a good reason for that: they’re liars. I would quit, but not until the end of the semester. It’s not fair to either the students or the school to walk out in the middle of the semester, and I’d feel bad about leaving them in the lurch, so I’d stick it out until June. But man, I’d have FUN those last few months.
- I would make sure my family is taken care of — money for my parents, my brother, my sister, college funds for my nieces. I can afford to share the wealth.
- And then… THEN… I’d start having fun. I’d grab Erin. Get a new car. Get us a house in New Orleans and one in Pittsburgh — nothing super-fancy, mind you, I’ve no desire for a 90-room megamansion, but something nice and comfortable wherever we are whenever we want to be there. Each house would, of course, have an extensive library, networked office, and miniature recording studio (I’m not gonna quit my podcast).
- Buy tickets to San Diego Comic-Con. Yes, I know they’re sold out, but I’ve got FIVE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS. I bet I could find one. The same goes for a hotel room.
- Vacation. Go with Erin everywhere we’ve ever wanted to go — Europe, Austrailia, Six Flags over Albuquerque… shoot the works.
- And finally, when we get back home, exhausted but satisfied, I’d make writing full-time my gig. In the time I now spend on a day job, I’d spend it all either writing, reading, watching, or writing about what I’ve watched and read. Which is the sort of thing I love doing most anyway.
Will it happen? Probably not. The skies are clear of thunderheads and I haven’t seen any ostriches to climb on lately. But at least until the numbers are drawn tonight, I get to think, “Why not me?”
And then the numbers will be drawn and it’ll be back to reality. But it’s fun while it lasts.
So play the game, friends. You’ve got half a billion dollars burning a hole in your pocket. What do you do?