Fear and Loathing the Powerball

Source: hypnobusters.com
Source: hypnobusters.com

I probably speak for many when I say how glad I am that someone finally won the big Powerball jackpot. In addition to the frenzied atmosphere it created at all the places where tickets are sold, it was also making my head swim with possibilities and contingencies in the off-chance that I actually won.

I can now relax. The conflict over whether we’ll stay in Florida or move back to California is no longer a cocktail hour talking point. We will continue to live in our rented condo, drive our 2007 Toyota, and buy wines from middle shelf offerings at the grocery store. We remain safely middle class.

But I do admit to actual trepidation about what I’d do if fate bestowed lottery riches my way.

With jackpot fever temporarily removing ISIS and Ted Cruz from the headlines last week, I read two interesting articles in the Washington Post and New York Times on the mechanics of actually winning a huge amount of money. I learned about assembling a financial and legal team prior to claiming the prize, whether to take the cash or annuity payout options, and the realities of how one’s life changes after such an altering event. It dawned on me that no matter how astute I like to think I am about money currently, I would be completely unprepared for the magnitude and complexities that a staggering amount like this would have on me.

Source: Clker.com
Source: Clker.com

Anonymity wouldn’t even be an option. Florida is not one of the five states in which a winner may choose not to have his/her identity revealed (those are DE, KS, MD, ND, and OH). I would no doubt have to stand on some podium with a large facsimile of a check being handed to me and then answer questions from reporters. For a laugh, I mentally thought about what my response would be for how I’d spend the money.  “Probably just invest in no-load funds from Vanguard and T. Rowe Price,” and then wait to hear the collective gasp and groan from professional investment managers coast to coast. Oh, the fantasies.

The more Gorgeous and I talked about the scenario, the more we both agreed that it sounded like an extremely well mixed cocktail of stress. I couldn’t even begin to think about the new demands my ex-wife would no doubt make. Then there would be the strange encounters with my siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, and people I once thought were only casual acquaintances. As we laid out the real life probabilities of all of this, we began to laugh at the absurdities both real and imagined.

I thought about an old friend who was fortunate many years ago to begin working for a small company that eventually became a multinational corporation. Today it is a widely recognized Fortune 500 company (Hi, T). She once shared with me some anecdotes of how her more prosperous financial position from working at this company now creates tensions with family members. The specter of her success becomes fodder in nearly every conversational topic as she navigates phone calls or holiday get togethers. It is the proverbial elephant in the room.

And yet, for God sakes… the jackpot is 1.6 BILLION dollars!!!  Are you insane, man?! Spare us the sanctimonious blabber on the evils of money and think about buying your mid-life crisis car already!

Source: Swadeology.com

Of course, I was disappointed when we won nothing. A sister of mine proudly e-mailed that she won $8 in each of the big drawings. Nobody likes a show off.

I still buy lottery tickets regularly. Unlike those recent fair weather players who only do so when the jackpots are gargantuan, I enjoy playing for the more normal amounts of five and ten million dollar possibilities. You know, chump change. I like waking up with my morning cup of coffee, scanning the headlines, and then clicking on a shortcut I’ve saved on my browser for the Florida winning numbers page. No matter how depressing the news is, there’s still that brief moment of anticipation each morning in thinking how something exciting might be in the offing for the day.

Truth to tell, I really have no incredible desires. I am a man with no bucket list nor much of an actual wish list. There are several charities I would want to support. Gorgeous keeps asking me when our names will be on the screen as benefactors prior to all those PBS shows such as Downton Abbey and Grantchester. So much for anonymity!

Of course I’d buy my own home, something I haven’t had since my first marriage. But even then I’m not sure I’d want an actual house. Perhaps a three or four bedroom ocean-front condo would do nicely. Other than that, all I can think of is a vintage stereo system, all the vinyl albums I long ago sold when CD’s came out, and perhaps new vehicles for each of us (an F-150 pickup for me).

Although it was somewhat disturbing to see people spending amounts of $50 and $100 last week, and I do wish the management of these multi-state games wouldn’t mathematically design them in such a way so that the huge jackpots are such a common occurrence now, it did make for some interesting conversations around these here parts. How about you? What was on your wish list?

Until next time…

19 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing the Powerball

  1. I never play the lottery but I would like to win. I know, you have to play to win but I have always considered it as a form of gambling.
    My son and I were talking about it and I said “if I played and if I won, the first thing I would do is get you into a top-notch rehab place with top-notch doctors and treatment.”
    His response was “I wouldn’t go.”
    I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t play.


    1. That’s the rub — you have to play to win! My ex is a recovering gambler, but lottery interestingly enough was never her thing. She did say that a few people at her G.A. meetings did have addictions to the scratch tickets, though.


  2. I suggest you buy those horn rimmed glasses with fake nose and mustache just in case you ever win something big. Oh yes, don’t forget your blogging buddies too. We can get snippety. I have notified our local animal shelter that I won’t be building that wing………and life is back to normal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the musical choice. And speaking of music, I still have most of my LPs … I have promised them to my niece who is 25 and very interested, or they’d be yours for the hauling!

    Years ago when I was working as a temporary secretary in an insurance company (of all places), I actually met a young woman who won the lottery. It wasn’t a huge one, $2.5 million. She was a secretary in the department I temped in, and worked for two men who remain high on my list of asshole bosses I’ve met. They treated her better than they treated me when I temped for her job, but not a whole lot. I’ve never been able to fathom how she didn’t take the money and get an education or start a business or at least tell those two assholes where to go … (Sadly, lottery luck did not rub off when I sat in her chair.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was young and full of myself when digital music was introduced. I was PROUD when I jettisoned my records. But now I miss the cool designs of those wonderful components, the warm sound of analog technology, and how great it was to hold an album and read the credits and look at the pictures. Your niece is lucky to have such a cool aunt.

    Yeah, people make some interesting choices when they come into money. In reading about past winners, I was fascinated not by the ones who blew through their money (those stories are everywhere), but by those who actually kept to their previous lifestyles as much as they could. I think I’d take advantage of the money to enjoy life, but I’d still want to go out and pick up my own warm bagels and the New York Times on Sunday mornings. 😉


  5. Yup – I had lotto fever too. So I sidled up to the cashier at the local Publix on the day before the drawing. Only one lady in front of me, and she spent $50.

    So with absolutely no confidence at all I said, “Let me have $10 worth of Powerball Quick Picks – that’s 5 games. I had read the NY Times piece as well – and accordingly, I stashed my ticket. It was almost like hiding in plain sight. Didn’t want to forget where I put it.

    On TWO tickets I had one number apiece. On another ticket I did have the Powerball number which was 10, only not as the powerball number.

    I did learn that my so called favorite numbers – four of which are under 30, is not a good idea as so many folks play birthday combos that your chances of being a solo winner are reduced. Hence the Quick Picks.

    Long story short – $10 bucks down the tube.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I bought only four tickets, but I got them all incrementally. One at Publix, one at the gas station, another at 7-11, and the last at a different Publix. I thought I’d see if one place was luckier than the other. Nope! I got zilch.

      Yes, I learned also how people tend to pick favorite dates of the month as their favorite numbers. But then I’ve always just played the machine picks more out of laziness anyway.


  6. I haven’t bought a lottery ticket for a long time (which I understand makes my chances of winning just ever so slightly smaller than those that do) so I didn’t get caught up in the latest “what ifs.” At my book club the other night several members were talking about what they’d do with all that money that would change their lives. The only thing I could think of was that I’d hire a driver. No more dealing with traffic for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘Tis true, your odds were only slightly smaller! Well said! Ah, yes. Having a driver would be nice. But I’d still want a less than ostentatious car, so I suppose I might look silly sitting in the back of a Prius with a chauffeur in front. But I’m willing to try!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I only bought one play each week. That’s all it takes. My larger spemding friends shook their heads…I know nothing about the people who won…nor do I care much. Thanks for the humorous read. Maybe next time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You were smart. Your friends’ odds were only infinitesimally better than yours. I saw an article’s headline this morning that one couple who shared the jackpot were planning on going back to work on Monday. Yeah, good luck with that. I’m sure that will last long. 😉 Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know what happened that removed you from my reader, but you are back, and I’m happy.

        It is ridiculous how these people MUST identify themselves. It’s almost punishment and an invitation for every kook out there to invade the safety of these winners.

        I’d probably put the ticket in my firesafe lockbox and wait a couple months. Regarding work, I would joke about having won the powerball and not needing to be there. I loooove my job but management are being as****es. It takes about a month to train someone to do my job. It would be nice to say to them that they had two weeks if they pushed me far enough. I really love my job so it would be hard to quit.


      2. Wow, sorry I was removed from your reader, but glad you’re back! Come to think of it, you might be missing from mine also. I shall check later. I hate some of the changes WordPress has made on both the Reader and the new interface for writing posts.

        I know, I think it’s scary that it’s a requirement for people to be identified. I understand it from the lottery’s point of view– they don’t want there to be this false myth that lottery winners are actually fake. But unfortunately you are also a target after you win a big jackpot.

        That’s so great how much you love your job. May that continue… IMPORTANT!


  8. My head was swimming with the possibility of being able to help so many people with that kind of money. Even though I only bought one ticket, it sure provided endless hours of dreaming. I was already making a list of relatives, friends, old co-workers, and new found acquaintances, not to mention multiple charities. As for a shiny new car or some other such bauble, the only thing that really came to mind was a gorgeously landscaped back yard, complete with a splashy water feature that bubbles and gurgles, and some sparkling crystal prisms that catch the evening sun. Yep, that would about do it for me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. In the Land of OH (oh so many years ago), I managed to get 5 of the 6 numbers (no additional solo number to pick back then). I won $855 and was very happy … until I started looking at that 6th number and kept wondering, “Why didn’t YOU match?” The difference between $855 and $3,000,000 was very hard to consider and still maintain my joy. And, yes, all of my numbers were calendar date related — even the one I didn’t get was under 32!

    And Mr. SitG, my first purchase would be a unit in the Hamilton so I could afford to stay in San Francisco with a door person to help protect me when all my friends, relatives and acquaintances show up looking for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the difference between getting five and six number is HUUUUGE (Oh, sorry, that reminds me of someone in the current political theater). I remain hopeful that someday I will enjoy a jackpot that while not headline grabbing is enough to make me comfortable.

      The Hamilton is a fantastic investment. I look forward to visiting you there so long as the door person will let ME in!


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