If I Won the Lottery…

Right from the start I have to state that the odds of my winning a lottery, any lottery, are zero, because I never buy any lottery tickets, but that doesn’t stop me from fantasizing about what I might do with the winnings were I ever to win one of those big mega-million-verging-on-a-billion-dollar lotteries.

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Inspired in part by a recent article, Why Don’t Rich People Just Stop Working?, I once again began to consider what to do if I ever hit the jackpot, say, by finding a winning lottery ticket that Phoebe Buffay had discarded.

Of course, the first thing I would do is set aside a certain amount to guarantee myself a reasonable income for life, just to get that out of the way.

Then, like Edmond Dantès, one of my favorite characters in classic literature, I would set about to reward my friends and wreak bitter vengeance on my enemies. Take heart. If you’re reading this, you’re probably on the former list and could expect at least a grand or two (unless you came upon this post via a search engine, that is). I wonder if I should assume a new identity like Dantès did? Perhaps the Duke of unDevine Retribution? No, probably best to remain plain old humble JT.

There’s only one problem with that plan; I can’t really think of any enemies that I’d want to wreak bitter vengeance on. Oh, I did have some disagreements with people I worked with, but those were all work related and not personal, and upon retiring, any lingering resentments (at least on my part) melted away. I can think of one person that I do bear a strong grudge against, but her offense was committed against a friend of mine, not against me. Oh, well. She will have to do. I’ll have to think up some suitable comeupance for her.

Now then, the essentials out of the way, what to do with the bulk of the winnings? Unlike actual rich people, who apparently think that the accumulation of wealth is an end in itself (see the afore-linked article) I subscribe to the notion that “Money is like manure; it’s no good until you spread it around.” [A bonus reward for the first person to correctly guess where that quote is from. Wink, wink.]

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Over the years I’ve had a lot of different ideas of what to do. Of course, I’d want to do something charitable, something to help the less fortunate. Perhaps a substantial donation to one of the food charities. I’ve also thought about setting up a check cashing agency that doesn’t rip people off, as I’ve seen a documentary about how those agencies prey on vulnerable folks. Most likely, I’d simply consult with some experts to figure out the best way to spread some funds around where they would do the most good.

Also, I’d want to try to fund some scientific studies. My thinking there would be to use a shotgun approach to spend a little bit each on a lot of different studies, ones that are mainly on the periphery of science. If even one of them came back with useful results, the payoff might be worth it. But again, I’d probably consult with experts, as I believe in people with expertise, before doing anything.

Rather than list all the things I’ve thought about, here are a just a couple that I keep coming back to. But rest assured that I’d want to make some contribution to the arts, such as the Philadelphia Orchestra and local theatrical companies.

One thing that has bothered me is how many citizens have so little knowledge of this nation’s history. So what I’d like to do is fund an ambitious television series that would fictionally dramatize that history and its impact on ordinary people. The series would be based around several ordinary families and dramatize how the various historical events affected them. Thus, real historical characters might be introduced only peripherally. Think of something like Downton Abbey, but spread out over our country’s 300 plus year history. It would be difficult to bring something like that off successfully, but I’d sure like to try. Of course, schools would be provided with inexpensive access to the show along with appropriate teaching materials.

The other thing that I keep dreaming about is to hire some of the best political comedians and cartoonists, get their input, then put up billboards with their ideas right smack in the middle of wherever the conservative judges on the Supreme Court couldn’t help but see them every single day. It’s the only political use of the money that I think would satisfy me.

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