I think a bunch of us are still thinking about the seven state workers who hit the grand slam in the Mega Millions lottery last month, and skipped away with $19 million each.
That’s $19 million, after taxes. Money to burn for the next 30 years or so.
We’ve been playing the same game of chance at the old Gazette for years. Whenever there’s an ultra-large jackpot, advertising whiz John Aini makes his rounds and collects $1 from about 25 or 30 dreamers. I used to run the lottery pools in the newsroom, and would round up about 40 people who invested dollars for their dreams. I used to have nightmares that I’d forget to buy the Lotto tickets, someone’s numbers would come in, and I’d be red in the face. Probably black and blue, too.
We’ve been Lotto dreaming for more than 25 years ... and are still watching for the next stack of dough up for grabs. It’s a common scheme; everyone likes to imagine what they’d do with Real Big Money. It’s been part of TV, in shows like “The Millionaire,” “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “OK Crackerby! What — nobody remembers “OK Crackerby!?” Burl Ives as the richest man in the world?
In the movies, money is part of the “Batman” films — Bruce Wayne doesn’t work at Home Depot — and the new, moronic “Arthur” remake is out this weekend, with the lush spending cash left and right.
I’ve been wondering ... what would I do with $19 million? Some expenditures would be obvious — pay off the house, buy a new car or three. Maybe sell the house or give it away, and just buy a new place out in the country, where I’d have space for a swimming pool — a “see-ment pond,” as Jed Clampett used to call it — gazebo, hot tub, movie theater, gymnasium and probably a trampoline.
I’d probably still have $17 million left after those upgrades, and I guess I’d help out family and friends. Even if I took just $1 million and split it up into bags of $25,000 each, that would be 40 very damn generous birthday presents. Another million would be split up into $250,000 packages, and four of my favorite charities would soon be building statues of me on their front lawns.
Then what? I’d invest a lot of the cash, and have thousands coming in every year just for interest. But I wouldn’t change my lifestyle. No butler, no maid. I wouldn’t change my brand of beer, so Adolph Coors would still get $20 from me every two weeks. I might buy better grades of candles and ketchup. Nothing against Price Chopper’s brand of red, but I think Heinz would take over the concession at my place on a permanent basis. I’d probably quit clipping coupons.
It would just be nice to have fun with the money. Like go into a bar, order a quick one, and tell the bartender, “Set up everyone on me! And make them doubles.”
Or maybe find a bank silly enough to give me maybe $500,000 worth of dimes and quarters. I could pour the coins into the corners of a small bedroom, fill the rest of the place with dollar bills, and show guests my “counting room.” Just like Uncle Scrooge used to have on the Donald Duck show.
I don’t think I’d buy anything stupid or eccentric. Well, beside the trampoline and counting room. No television station, no airport, no nightclub, no department store. Maybe a restaurant. Those can be nice investments. And I could fill the menu with foods that I like, maybe potato salad, scrambled eggs, cheeseburgers, shrimp cocktail. I could hire Bill Buell as the head waiter, at a handsome $100,000 a year. But he’d have to call me Mr. Wilkin. And probably shave. And do the dishes every night.
I guess you’d have to watch out for some people. You’d hate to be the target for every grifter in New York. I guess I’d have to have security at my country estate, so the criminal elite couldn’t try any fast ones.
In the end, I don’t know how you’d spend all that cabbage. I’d still have my pre-lottery savings, Social Security and pension coming in, so you’d have to get creative burning the dough. Walk around malls at Christmastime handing out $50 bills? Filet mignon every night? A-1 steak sauce instead of ketchup? Freshly-squeezed instead of Tropicana or Minute Maid?
I’ll let you know one of these days. We’re due to hit a jackpot, sooner or later.