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Larry Schiro: I was never bitten by Powerball bug

Lottery fever gripped the nation last month as the Powerball jackpot grew to $1.5 billion. Generally, when the lottery reaches several hundred millions of dollars, it gets everyone’s attention, starting with the media. With the lottery’s latest all-time high, how could anyone not think about winning that much money? It is an unfathomable amount to the average person.

Trying to save a million dollars in a 401(k) plan or similar investment takes a lifetime of diligent savings. So, $1.5 billion for a $2 investment? Why not try?

The lottery’s catch phrase “a dollar and a dream” takes over many players’ thinking. It is hard not to get caught up on the euphoria of winning this kind of money and thinking about what you would do with it.

But I don’t ever want to win the lottery. I say this after a great deal of thought. I don’t want to win the lottery!

When I tell that to people, they look at me like I have two heads and ask, “Are you nuts?”

No, I am not nuts.

So, why don’t I want to win the lottery? Well, I think of where my life is right now. Could I use some extra money? Sure I could, but a billion dollars is way over the edge.

I sat and thought about what I would do if over a billion dollars suddenly dropped in my lap. Oh, the usual things, like buying new cars and a bigger house came to mind. But I don’t really need a new car and our house is plenty big enough.

I have many good friends and family members, but if I won a billion dollars, I know things would change. I asked myself: How will I be treated by everyone if I suddenly exceeded everyone with such a huge winning? Would that create tensions that don’t exist now? Am I prepared to accept such a change in my life? No, I am not.

Would these family and friends still want to come to my house and spend a Sunday over a cookout, or a dish of macaroni and sauce? I am not sure, but I don’t want to try to have to develop a new social circle among the super rich. I am not from this group and have no desire to be suddenly thrown into that mix.

I don’t think I want to risk losing my lifelong friends over a billion dollars. The change in my life would be too great for me to accept. Nope, I don’t want to win that much money.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have played a few lottery games in the past. I think I won $40 on one ticket. But a billion dollars? What would I do with that amount of money? How many people would be looking for handouts? How would I manage so much money?

I know I would take care of my immediate family and my close friends. But where do you draw the line on family and friends? I have a large, extended family. I don’t see most of them unless someone dies or gets married, and even then I rarely see them. Would they suddenly become visitors for a cookout or a dish of macaroni?

The “dollar and a dream” catch phrase is a great lure, and $2 buys you a lot of dreams. But are you ready for such a change in your life if you really did win? Not me.

My life didn’t change because I didn’t buy a ticket. So I will keep having those Sunday cookouts and other social events that I enjoy. As for the $2 I didn’t spend on a ticket? Well, that cup of coffee was just fine.