Pondering a MegaMillions win

Pondering a MegaMillions win

By: Misty Fritz

I don’t play the lottery very often; I’m too cheap (on the rare occasions that I go to a casino, I stick to the penny slots with a strict budget, and when that amount’s gone, it’s gone). When I do decide to take my chances, it’s usually the Scrabble-like crossword puzzle scratcher tickets. I like them because even if I don’t win anything, I’ve at least spent a good 5-10 minutes entertaining myself, unlike with the scratchers that are over and done in 30 seconds or so.

Pretty much the only other time I play is when one of the big lotteries — Powerball, Mega Millions, etc. — has an especially large jackpot, as is the case this week, with the MegaMillions jackpot at $1.6 billion ($913 million if you opt for the lump sum payout) for Tuesday’s drawing. I know my odds aren’t even remotely able to be considered good (roughly 1 in 302 million, or 35 times less likely than my odds of getting murdered in the Grand Canyon, according to CNN), but when the payout is that high, I figure it’s worth it to at least take a shot (or, usually, five). Of course, millions of people having the same philosophy is how the jackpot gets so high in the first place.

Still, it’s fun to dream. They say money can’t buy happiness, but it can sure relieve a whole lot of stress. Assuming I took the lump sum (though I might actually go for the annuity, as I hear it makes more financial sense in the long run), after taxes, I’d probably end up with roughly 50-60 percent of that amount — which is still an absurdly high amount of money. What would I do with all that cash?

The obvious things to start with: pay off all debt for myself, immediate family members, and close friends. Buy a house for my mom and one for myself (hate to break it to you, but the odds of that house being in Illinois are about the same as my odds of actually winning — I’ve had my fill of Illinois winters and have my sights set on Santa Barbara, California), plus a new car for each of us — a Prius for myself, and a Toyota FJ for her. Donate a bunch to charity — including funding a ton of projects (maybe even all of them!) on donorschoose.org and contributing to a variety of people’s crowdfunding campaigns for health/education/etc. purposes. The sensible thing, of course, would be to invest a large chunk of it, and I’d do that, too.

Then comes the fun stuff: buying everything in my “saved for later” cart on Amazon and everything in my Etsy wishlist; contributing to a bunch of fun Kickstarter projects; and quitting my job in favor of traveling the country and the world, at least for a year or so. When I got back, I’d probably start on a lifelong dream: opening a bookstore.

It’ll never happen, but if it would, I have a plan.