5-18 Powell's City of Books, World's Largest Indie Bookstore by Judith Ashley and Sarah Raplee

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

By Robin Weaver

Be honest. Haven’t you dreamed of becoming a millionaire? Wait... Maybe I should ask: “Haven’t you dreamed of becoming super wealthy?” Because, let’s face it, a measly million dollars doesn’t have the same buying power these days?

Are you giggling at my sense of over inflation? Not so fast. Do a Zillow search of that beachfront home you’ve been dreaming of and you’ll likely stop sniggering.  In Tampa, Florida, the median waterfront home costs a million.  In Dartmouth, Massachusetts, that same modest house goes for a whopping 1.8 mil, and if your fantasy is even more tropical, it’ll cost you at least 3.8 big ones to change your address to a Honolulu.

Okay, by now you’ve probably shaken the neural dust off that abacus in your head and have calculated exactly how much you need to consider yourself stinking rich. So how are you going to achieve all that greenback (a.k.a. bitcoin, gold, tons of chocolate)?

You probably fantasize about selling the movie rights on your latest manuscript, but even the most optimistic writer knows the odds of winning the lottery are probably higher than achieving true best-seller status.

So wait? THE LOTTERY. We can win the lottery. Yeah, that’s the ticket (ever-so-sad pun intended). 😊  We'll ignore the odds---because the chances of winning the big prize in Powerball are approximately one (1) in 292,201,338. We're 20,000 times more likely to be struck by lightning. Still, we continue to buy those tickets. After all, somebody has to win, right? (HINT: if you’re looking for better odds, consider Mega Millions—approximately 1 chance in 258,890,850).

Before you pick your numbers, consider this. According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, seventy percent (70%) of the winners will lose all that money within a few years. Some even think there’s a curse associated with winning the big bucks.
For example, Jack Whittaker had already accumulated his millionaire via his construction company when he won $315 million in the West Virginia lottery. He went broke four years later and lost a daughter and a granddaughter to drug overdoses.

$30 million winner, Abraham Shakespeare was found buried under concrete, having been shot twice in the chest. ABC News reported DeeDee Moore, a post-lotto win “friend” (aka cookie), was found guilty of poor Abraham’s first degree murder.

After twenty-five years of wedded bliss, Denise Rossi asked for a divorce. She had won $1.3 million and kept her secret until the divorce was final. Well…maybe the marriage wasn’t that blissful.

Billie Bob Harrell Jr. quit his Home Depot job after he won $31 million in the Texas lottery. He donated to charity, including 480 turkeys for the poor, but was soon constantly harassed for money. He separated from his wife and then committed suicide.

Sandra Hayes split the Missouri Powerball $224 million with a dozen coworkers and is now a retired social worker. In her book, How Winning the Lottery Changed My Life, she details how her closest family and friends changed. In her words, “That caused a lot of emotional pain. These are people who you’ve loved deep down, and they’re turning into vampires trying to suck the life out of me.”

The stories go on and on and on… There are however, the exceptions. Richard Lustig won the grand-prize seven times and is still happily rich. Yep, you heard me: SEVEN times. He told TIME magazine, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor, and I like rich a whole lot better. I can’t complain.”

“Can’t complain?” he says. “Can’t complain??? Well, duh. Even worse, I think that “I’ve been rich…poor” line was first said by someone else.  Even so, this former professional drummer, still has most of his earnings and has also written a book: Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery. That book is a best seller. (This author’s comment: “That ain’t right.”)

Most of the truly happy lottery winners have donated most, if not all of their winnings to charity.  My favorite is Ed Nabors. This Georgia truck driver cashed in his $390 million ticket, then he called it a day and went fishing.

Despite the stories, we’ll still buy those tickets. Instead of waiting for that cash-fall, though, we writers need to keep pounding our keyboards and create something that will last. After all, doesn’t anything truly worthwhile need to be earned to be valued?


Linda Lovely said...

I've bought one lottery ticket in my life. That was at the behest of family--all family members bought tickets as a family enterprise. The money would then be split among all members of the tribe. Needless to say, none of our tickets won. But, if they had, at least the goodies would have been split, and maybe we would have avoided the curse. Interesting post, Robin.

Sarah Payne said...

Look at JK Rawlings, or Stephen King. They never gave up on their writing. We shouldn’t give up either.

M Connel said...

Interesting read! Enjoyed it, as always :)

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Good point, Robin. Maybe we'd be better off spending our imaginations on writing our books instead of on dreams of winning big!

Maggie Lynch said...

Great article, Robin! As usual you have a way of informing us with humor and information.

I must admit that I have played the lottery. I used to play it once a week when I lived in Mississippi simply because it was illegal--because of bad people in government back into the 1800's. But having casino gambling was just fine. Uh, logic? So, as a rebellious streak took over, I hopped across the border to Louisiana to buy my ticket and "illegally" bring it back to my home in Mississippi. I never won but the rebel act was fun.

However, since I moved home to Oregon where it's always been legal, I haven't bought a ticket in the last 17 years. I do think about it from time to time but that requires actually moving butt and getting in the car to go somewhere to buy a ticket. Ugh! I'm obviously not motivated to be super rich. :)

However, I do play another kind of lottery. That is the HGTV Dream Home lottery. I fill out my email every day with my morning coffee? What are the odds? They estimate if you enter the allowed twice online every day your odds are 200 in 200 million. At least it's better than the lottery, though the winnings are less. Why do I faithfully enter that one? I think it's because I love the idea of having no mortgage. It's a very specific and understandable goal. Having no mortgage means I can spend my actual earned money on other things I want to do.

I do understand how family and "friends" or charities become a curse when they know you've won big. I already have charities sending me requests every day just because I donated something in the past. Heavens, even the Red Cross sends me a request almost every day to give my blood. Really, I only have so much to give.

But I must admit to dreaming. Why the lottery works or the HGTV giveaways is that the cost to take a chance is small in comparison to most other things we do in life. The cost of a momentary dream, whether it's giving up my email or a dollar for a ticket seems worth it.

The cost for me to dream of my book being made into a movie is actually much greater because I know all the work I have to do to even have the chance of being considered. Oy dreams! gotta love em. However they keep your optimism up for the day. :)

Sarah Raplee said...

I am not cut out to be a millionaire. Too much responsibility!

Judith Ashley said...

Fun post, Robin. I've known a couple of Lottery winners and their lives did change. One winner took her annual check and deposited it into 12 different accounts (one for each month) and that's what she spent, donated, etc. She kept working for another year or so after getting her first check. Another couple I know who won decided to travel, build their dream house, etc. They also managed their winnings and made a couple of bad investments. Should the Lottery Gods ever smile on me, I will hire the professionals that can set things up so I'm IRS compliant, etc.

You can read more about what I'd do with my winnings in my post right here on Friday -Millionaire Dreams.