Now that I am among those people who did not win the Power Ball lottery, I can finally reveal that if I had won—I would have used the money to send all the kids of our area to Disneyland. Or—if they preferred—Toyota-thon.
But alas, not only did I not win—neither did you. And my ticket was not even close to the winning combination. In fact, it only contained three actual numerals. The rest were fractions and a semi-colon.
Salving our collective wounds are the many stories about lottery winners for whom things went terribly awry after collecting their prizes. It is a litany of drugs, gambling, crime, bankruptcy and human misery—everything that would make a terrific Netflix series.
One guy in West Virginia won big in 2002—followed by a chain of ugliness. His car was broken into on two occasions. The first time, $545,000 in cash was stolen. The next time, $200,000 was swiped. Note to all of you future lottery winners: Do not keep your winnings in your car. Cash should always be kept under a mattress.
(If somebody broke into my car they would only make off with a nose-hair trimmer, an air freshener—and a crumpled Dick’s burger wrapper.)
Another fellow won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1998. Not long after, his brother hired a hit man to kill him. Then his relatives persuaded him to invest in businesses that went belly-up—and a landlady took him for a third of his winnings. Think of how much worse it might have been if he had won $16.3 million.
The stories of woe go on and on. Aren’t you already feeling better that you did not win?
A 16 year-old girl won $3 million in a British lottery—and used it all on vacations, cars, gifts—and breast implants. I believe I would not have been so reckless. I mean, gifts?
On the other hand, if you have ever felt disconnected from your family, winning a lottery is a great way to become re-connected. And don’t worry—you will not have to connect to them. They will connect to you.
You will suddenly hear from your Uncle Milton—even though there is no history of an Uncle Milton in any branch of your family tree.
People that went to the same grade school will suddenly reach out.
“Hey, remember me? We both went to Kenwood Elementary.” And indeed you did. But 12 years apart.
Once the word is out that you won the lottery, your phone and doorbell will start ringing like the slot machines at the Tulalip. And taking even more of your money.
You’ll be asked to be in selfies with everybody in the area—from politicians to bartenders. And you’ll given so many business cards, you’ll have to carry 17 wallets.
In short, you will be circled by more vultures than a dead cow.
So the wise word is to try to win your prize in a state where you can remain anonymous. Washington State is not one of them. So if you win the big prize around here, please know that Steve Raible is going to say your name on the air—and everybody is going to come after your loot. Except Steve Raible who is said to be loaded.
Experts also say not to immediately change your lifestyle.
For example, don’t start making reservations for dinner at Canlis. Keep going to Taco Time. Canlis doesn’t even offer Mexi-fries.
Don’t start shopping at Prada. Wal-Mart still has pretty good deals on shoes.
And don’t suddenly trade in your 1985 Yugo for a Tesla.
Before you ever cash in your winning ticket, see a tax advisor. And if the tax advisor starts drooling when you tell him how much money you’ve won—get a different tax advisor.
Protect your money from people. Like yourself, for example.
So whomever the three parties are that won the Powerball the other day, they should go out and buy themselves plenty of aspirin—because they are going to have many headaches.
Still, despite all the cautionary tales, I had felt pretty good about my chances of being the big winner last week—so confident that a few days ago I brazenly called up the editor of this newspaper and told him where to stick this weekly writing job.
I am not at liberty to say whether he actually stuck it there or not—but I was lucky enough to retrieve it.