How Would Winning the Lotto Affect You?
$587.5 million. Let that sink in for a minute. $587.5 million dollars! That is just shy of half of the total spending for the entire state of Wyoming , that’s more than the National debt in 1862. With $587.5 million dollars you could buy 34 F-16 Fighters, half of the Space Shuttle Endeavor or if you fancy, you could get the Rolling Stones to play at your house for 80 hours! OK, last one, for $587.5 million you could fly to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft 29 times!
$587.5 million, how awesome would that be? Well, actually if you took the lump sum you would only get a measly $293, 750,000. That’s half gone right off the top. Of course if there was another winner, which in this last Powerball there was, you would only get half of that. Oh damn, only about $146 million. I’m glad I didn’t win, that’s not even worth the effort now.
So seriously, can you imagine how winning the lotto could change your life, at least financially? I’m sure you can. If you are like everyone else, we sit and think about that “what if” of winning the lottery. Personally, I’ve been over this scenario so many times in my head that I feel like I am totally prepared for the inevitable. I’d like to think that I would be conservative in spending my new found fortune. First thing on the list would be that Stones concert at my house, Rock –n-Roll!! OK, not really… First thing, after tithing, would be to pay off all of my debt. All of it, I don’t even want to owe my buddy for lunch last week, pay it all off. College funds and annuities for the kids, a bunch of gold (the dollar is going down the crapper, but we’ll talk about that another time), some land and a home in Wyoming, almost off the “grid” and a new set of wide whites for my ’50 Chevy, ooh, the extravagance!
I’m sure most people are the same, in that they want to take care of their debt, provide for their family and get a couple of those things that you would never feel comfortable buying unless you were a millionaire (like a couple of F-16s for you and your buddies). But some people have a mental melt down and end up nuttier than squirrel poop. Here are a few examples to help keep you “grounded” for when your time comes.
Billie Bob Harrell, Jr. won $31 million in the Texas Lottery in 1997. 20 months of spending, giving and just plain squandering of his winnings left Harrell dead broke, literally. Shortly before taking his own life, Billie Bob told a financial advisor “Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me.” According to askmen.com
And then there was Ralph Stebbins. Ralph and his wife won $208 million in the Mega Millions Lottery in 2005. According to the same askmen article, less than 20 months of winning, Stebbins was charged with attempted murder for stabbing his daughter’s boyfriend. Two months after that Ralph dropped dead from heart failure.
And our last example is just tragic. Jack Whittaker of West Virginia hit the Powerball Lottery on Christmas day 2002. Not long after picking up his $114 million lump sum he was arrested for drunk driving. A couple of months later, thieves broke into Whittaker’s car and relieved him of a briefcase he like to carry around. Oh yeah, he kept $545,000 in that briefcase. After one year of being a millionaire, Jack was arrested for threatening the life of a bar manager. A few months after that 17 year old Brandi Bragg, Whittaker’s granddaughter, was found dead from an apparent overdose and three years ago Jack’s daughter was found dead in her home.
All tragic stories really. What happens to us when we have a huge financial windfall? You hear about it all of the time. Professional sports figures who have virtually hit the lottery with multimillion dollar contracts, some who were living in the ghetto yesterday and today pulling in millions. Overnight success in the acting or music fields seems too often to produce the same results. Something happens and they end up doing stupid stuff. Does too much money make the “normal” person lose their mind? …Let’s hope not.
It happens to many people, but here’s to wishing you luck and the numbers you play hit every time. …except when I’m playing.