March 30, 2012

Dreaming About Winning a Half Billion Dollars

99 million dollar alley
You may have heard by now that tonight’s Mega Millions Jackpot is expected to be around 500 million dollars.  What would you do with a half billion dollars?  To be sure, you are not going to win.  If you buy a ticket, you are purchasing nothing more than a dream.  But when dreams become this big, even the lottery skeptics and haters come out to play.  I am one of these.  I don’t believe in playing the lottery, as I view it no differently than a “sin tax,” such as those on alcohol or tobacco.  Lotteries are a tax on the poor.  They prey on poor people by offering false hopes and dreams.  While I don’t wish to be included in this group of people that is preyed upon, I will probably go against my better judgement for tonight’s Mega Millions drawing.


What Does $500 Million Really Look Like?
To be clear, nobody is actually going to get a half billion dollars as a direct result of tonight’s drawing.  Even if there is a single winner and they elect to receive the money as annuity payments over 20 years, their after tax portion will be only about half.  So, 250 million over 20 years, or 12.5 million per year for 20 years.  Do you think you could survive on that?

If a lump sum payment is chosen rather than the 20-year annuity payment, the jackpot will look mysteriously more like 293 million.  After the government takes nearly half of that for taxes you will be left with somewhere around 150 million.  This is the option I would choose/suggest, as you could privately invest 150 million dollars and come up with far more than a half billion after 20 years.  Even if you spend a few million right away, then leave yourself with a measly $1 million annual salary, you’ll still come out ahead if invested properly.

Editor's Note: After I wrote this and scheduled it to post, I went out and bought my Mega Millions ticket.  Printed on the top of the ticket is the estimated jackpot, which at the time of my purchase was at $540 Million!

The Life of Extravagance and Beyond
It’s easy to dream of the endless possibilities of ways to spend the money.  Build that dream house you’ve always wanted.  Purchase a vacation home.  Buy that sports car, motor-home or yacht.  Take exotic vacations.  Wine and dine and frivolously spend on a whim whenever you like.  Support charities like never before.  Be a sophisticated investor.  Help family and friends.  The list goes on.  Everybody has things they would like to do if only they had a little more money.  In this case, it would be a lot more money and you could do whatever you wanted.

My material dreams are similar to the things listed above.  I would love to build a dream home.  I envision one day owning a vacation home, preferably log-cabin style, somewhere in northern Michigan on a lake.  A Corvette would be one of my first purchases.  I’ve always wanted a 70’s style Corvette Stingray with t-tops.  With this kind of money, I would probably have to purchase a brand new one as well.  An RV, or motor-home, would about top off the list for material things I would like.  It has always been my dream to travel around this great country RV style and slowly take in all the sights and popular tourist destinations.  By the way, it is in my long term plan to get all this stuff anyway.  Winning the lottery would just mean that I would get it sooner.

A Higher (Non-Material) Ambition
More important than all that material stuff would be my ambition to put the government out of the business of welfare.  I know my measly $150 million alone could not accomplish this by just throwing money at the problem.  I could, however, use that money as a tool to help launch, fund and popularize private charities.  If done correctly, these charities could take care of the nation’s poor with private donations and make government welfare programs obsolete.  I know this is highly ambitious and very unlikely, but it would be a cause worth fighting for.  I would go on a crusade.  I would make it my life’s mission to complete this task.

All the material stuff would be great, but to take part in a mission like this would be life-changing and possibly even world-changing.  That would be my real motivation to use the money that God had blessed me with to do good, rather than waste it on material items and personal wealth gain.

Somebody Is Going To Win
It won’t be you, and it won’t be me.  That is for sure.  They say the odds of winning the Mega Millions jackpot are 1 in 176 million!  One thing is absolutely certain though, you won’t win if you don’t buy a ticket.  That’s the optimistic way of looking at it.  The eternal pessimist will tell you that you won’t lose if you don’t buy a ticket.  Whether you win or lose doesn’t matter.  We all know we’re not going to win.  We buy the tickets anyway because we want a chance at that dream.  If you’re not buying a ticket, you’re not even dreaming about the possibilities.  When you hold that ticket though, with your numbers printed out, for a short period of time you are holding onto a dream.  What if your numbers hit?  What if you become a multi-millionaire overnight?  What would you do?  How would your life change?

Readers:  I would love to hear your dreams about winning the lottery?  What would you do if you won?  Feel free to share in the comments section below.

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