I sometimes dream of winning the lottery.
But I avoid playing the Powerball when it gets too big. What if I won? I wouldn't want a billion and a half dollars. Too much responsibility.
The culture constantly tells us what we're supposed to want to do with lots of money. Huge, ostentatious houses (several of them, in several countries), a private jet, a yacht, fleets of million-dollar cars. Expensive clothes. Jewels. Art.
Not for me. I don't like big houses. Several of my family members have more than one house, so I know what that's like. Thank goodness I never had that much to take care of. Too much work.
I'd love to win, say, four million dollars. After taxes. Six, at the outside. But a billion and a half? No, thank you.
I'm pretty sure I would fail to properly manage a billion and a half dollars. The risk for making a spectacular fool of yourself is just too high. "Lottery Winner Swindled of Hundreds of Millions!" the headline would read. And I'd have to go around shame-faced, knowing people are gossiping about how foolish I was.
I have to work at it to remember to check the propane tanks, the chlorinator, and the furnace filter. I could never administrate, say, a Gulfstream G280.
And a yacht? Why? To go from Penn Yan to Hammondsport? A little runabout would get me out on the water.
I have enough clothes. And all the jewelry I need (none). I already have two good dogs. That's a form of wealth.
I wouldn't even buy art. First of all, what if I ruined a Matisse or a Miro? I'd feel bad for the rest of my life. Second, who wants to protect and secure such a thing? I'd never want the responsibility for that. Too much of a burden.
My idea of winning big would be having enough money to splurge wildly. I'd buy a pool table (a really nice pool table), a small Boston Whaler, three cameras, and a 2017 Fiat 124 Spider. Then I'd stop. I'd be "all splurged out." The rest would go in the bank, where it would buy me some precious security and peace of mind.
Okay, a place in Manhattan would be nice.
But daydreaming about it is also nice, and you don't have to win the lottery to do that. Handily, they have hotels in Manhattan.
When the Powerball gets down to just a few million dollars again, I might play. But that big prize they've got right now...that just sounds like trouble to me.
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Featured Comments from:
Benjamin Marks: "Mike:
"[Joke] Q: You know what they call the lottery? A: A tax on optimists....[/Joke]
"I too am resolutely middle-class in my self-conception. I mean this in the sense of being fixed on the idea of moderation—at least the American version of moderation—as a natural set point. Let's face it: in the US for all of its systemic inequities, most live lives of astonishing wealth, by world/historical standards.
"But I think that you have hit on what exactly it is that you purchase when you buy a lottery ticket. You purchase the ability to play 'what if,' even if the chances of winning are vanishingly small. At the end of the day, you have to decide whether the entertainment value of a game of 'what if' is worth what you have paid.
"In my case, although I share your fears of being inadequate to the task of disposing of sums of this size...the real joke is that I secretly believe I would be up to it. Having, that is, become well practiced at 'what if.' So, me? I bought a ticket. Hey, if I win we can discuss a permanent TOP funding stream. Just sayin'... ;-) See that? I got my $2 worth of 'what if' right there."
Mike replies: And now I can stop hoping I win and start hoping you do. [g]
Cliff R.: "Why the Fiat instead of the MX-5?"
Mike replies: Because I just won the lottery.
Chad Wadsworth: "Ferrari has been running the MultiAir Turbo 1.4l slated for the Spyder in the lower Formula 1 divisions for several years now. It is a corker when tuned to about 200hp using low cost plug and play ECU upgrades from Fiat subdivision Magneti and Morelli. I've got that setup in an Abarth and can only imagine it in the lighter Spyder where the sonorous exhaust can be appreciated in the open air."
Al C.: "You win the lottery and you go out and buy a...Fiat?"
Mike replies: You're assuming I'd buy cars to show off wealth and status. No interest in that. As for the Spider, what's better? For my tastes, nothing. I like droptop roadsters, always have, and I drive on public roads. As for why the Spider, what Chad said. The problem with Miatas has always been their crappy engines. With very few exceptions, Mazdas are underpowered—seems to be a law of the Universe.
Oh, and my other car would be a high-end AWD Lexus sedan. And I'd buy my son a car, too! Probably a RAV4, and I'd pay for his insurance, gas, and maintenance for five years. Oh, what a nice dream. :-)
Patrick Perez: "I used to work in IT Support for a financial management company. One day, the lottery jackpot had reached silly levels, which was my cue for buying a ticket. So I went to the minimart in my office building and patiently waited in line. Behind me was the company's chief economist (a professor of economics at Pepperdine). I explained my theory of why buying lottery tickets was a sound economic decision: The marginal value of the single dollar needed to buy the ticket was less than the probability of winning times the estimated payout. For many people, a single dollar in their wallet makes as no difference. The probability of winning is known, and the payout can be estimated. So if MV is effectively zero, and the probability of winning times the value of the payout is bigger, then buy that ticket! It's a bargain. The economist (and remember, he has a Ph.D.!) exclaimed 'Yes! That's what I always try to explain to people!'
"So the line moved forward and I got to the cashier, and gave my $1. Right behind me, Steve took his turn and bought $20. To him, $20 is as close to zero as $1 is for me. Moral of the story: I should have studied harder in college, and I could have made a killing in the economics business. IT is nowhere to get rich."