Monday, May 20, 2013

Dream a Little Dream

By Deborah Sharp
What would you do with $590 million (and change)?

That hypothetical question pondered by Powerball dreamers nationwide is now a reality for someone in Florida. As I write this, the winner of this weekend's drawing has not yet come forward to claim the booty. But the winning ticket was sold at a Publix grocery store in Zephyrhills, Fla.

Five-hundred-and-ninety million! Would you quit your job? Stop writing books? Write MORE books? Buy a full library of books?

Would you invest the money and make even more money? Would you give it all away? Purchase every posh and pricey thing you ever wanted, or start a foundation to do good?

Believe it or not, I've never fantasized about what I'd do if I won more than a half-billion dollars. I think the world is divided into two camps: lottery dreamers and lottery skeptics. I'm in the latter camp; my husband falls into the former. I don't dream about what I'd do with Powerball's megamillions because I don't believe I'd ever win them. The odds are astronomical (175 million to 1). I am not a lucky person. I was 13 years old at the Gold Coast skating rink the last time I won something. It was a limbo song on a 45-rpm record (Kids: Ask your grandparents about 45s).

On the other hand, my husband Kerry Sanders remains convinced that as long as SOMEONE is going to win megamillions, it might very well be him. Kerry dutifully buys a lottery ticket or two every week. He splurged and dropped 20 bucks on Saturday night's Powerball. May I point out we are not living a life of luxury in the south of France from his vast winnings?

As a reporter for NBC, my husband has been covering the story of the winning Powerball ticket from Zephyrhills. Check out Kerry's story at this link:

Doing his report on the Today show, Kerry seemed almost as excited that SOMEONE had won the big jackpot as if he himself had won it.

In my old life as a newspaper reporter, I was once assigned to track down some former lottery winners to see how they'd fared. I was far from excited about what I found. For many, the picture wasn't pretty. The majority had lost most of what they won. Horror stories abound about how money sometimes buys the opposite of happiness.

*  Take a West Virginia man, who became a multimillionaire with $315 million in lottery winnings. He fell victim to multiple thieves, was sued for sexual harassment, got banned from casinos for writing bad checks, and lost both his daughter and granddaughter to drug overdoses. He blamed the money.

* Another man, who won $16 million in Pennsylvania, was targeted by a family member who hired a killer to try to get his winnings. The murder plan wasn't successful. He went on to have six failed marriages, and wound up on welfare before he died of natural causes.

* In Florida, a woman who offered to help the winner of $30 million manage his money stole it instead. Then she fatally shot him and buried him under a cement slab in the backyard.

Woo-hoo! You're a winner!

What about you? Lottery dreamer or skeptic? Do you know any winners personally?


Sheila Boneham said...

Great post, Deborah. There really is such a thing as too much, and it seems the comfy zone between too little and too much is very narrow.

Kerry said...

Are you saying that should I win - I may wind up underneath a concrete slab? Haha

Kathleen Ernst said...

I think the astronomical amounts of these jackpots are way out of kilter. I too have read that most mega-winners end up unhappy. I hadn't stopped to think, though, of the potential for mystery writers...

Deborah Sharp said...

Sheila: I agree, though some people don't think there IS a thing as too much $
Kerry: Ha, husband, I'd choose another method since I've already written about the concrete slab.
Kathleen: see my note above to the hubby, about murdering a lottery winner ... rife with mystery possibilities!

Beth Groundwater said...

The most successful lottery winner story I heard was about a smart man who set up a family trust with the money, managed by a committee of family members and the trust manager, who reviewed grant requests from family members and allocated funds as needed for schooling, home loans, anniversary vacations, new cars, etc. among the extended family.