Maybe it’s because the year we just finished was such a trial to get through, but nobody really seemed to get excited about the various lotteries over the past months.
One time I drove by one of those billboards that show how much the Power Ball and Mega Million contests have built up to since the last winner and they were both over $300 million. I drove by a couple of days later and they were both back down to their starting base of $20 million.
So, somebody somewhere, two or more somebodies, I guess, had won more than $300 million apiece and I hadn’t heard or seen a single news story about it. The Power Ball, I believe, once got over $1 billion and now it seems like anything less than that seems blasé.
Among the cheaper of us, when they raised the price for a ticket from $1 to $2 it drained away a lot of enthusiasm. A dollar still seems pretty worthless (who’s gonna miss a dollar?), but two of them? You’re starting to talk real money then.
Now they’re both over $400 million and I actually spotted a news story on CNBC about it. The story was what to do if you win. Yeah, I know. The story even admitted the odds of you winning were pretty much zero. But still.
The first thing they said to do is not tell anybody you won. If you live in a state that allows you to not be identified, do it that way. If you live in a state where they want your pretty mug all over the news, as it is in Tennessee, set up one of those LLCs and put the money there. That way it looks like a corporation won the money and nobody knows it’s you.
They recommend doing this because not only will every moocher you know personally come out of the woodwork, but it will bring people you don’t know running, including scammers, crooks and thieves, to your door.
Of course, when you buy five new cars and a house on the lake/beach (or both), people are going to suspect something is up.
The next thing is whether you should take all the money once or take it over a number of years in annuity payments. They recommended taking it all at once. This was strictly a tax based recommendation. You’ll get taxed on the money no matter when you take it, so might as well get it over with. You never know what taxes will be over the years.
I’m sure it’s happened, but I’ve never heard of anybody taking the payments instead of a lump sum. And if you’re over 50, who knows if you’ll be around another 20-30 years. Best to get it all at once.
And that was pretty much all they said, though there is a chance you’ll go bankrupt in a short time. See, you’ve been a poor sucker your whole life and you don’t know how to handle money. You’ll spend it all and be back in that double wide in no time.
But before you become too excited about winning the lottery, let’s close out with a few things that are more likely to happen to you than winning a lottery:
- Being hit by a meteorite
- Becoming a billionaire. One of every 409,000 Americans is a billionaire.
- The odds of winning one of the major lotteries is one in 302 million.
- Dying in a plane crash
- Being killed by hornets, wasps or bees
- Being named a saint by the Catholic Church
- Getting your tax return audited
- Becoming audited
- Becoming president
- Being wrongfully convicted of a crime
- Becoming a movie star
- Having your identity stolen
- Being killed by a shark
- Becoming an astronaut trainee
- Scoring a hole in one
- Winning a gold medal at the Olympics
- Dying from the heat
- Having conjoined twins
I don’t know about you, but I can promise you there’s a bunch of stuff on that list I have zero percent chance of doing.
I guarantee I’ll never be named a saint and winning an Olympic gold medal is way out of reach. I guess I could die from the heat, I like being outside in the summer, but becoming a billionaire doesn’t seem very likely.
I suddenly like my lottery chances much more.