It is my sincere hope, for the good of humanity, that I will be STUPIDLY rich from winning Powerball by the time you read this…and while I suppose every column could start that way, THIS time there’s actually a CHANCE!
Unless you’ve been locked in a dark basement for the last several weeks, or you’re foreign (HELLO FROM AMERICA! I WILL TYPE LOUDER SO YOU CAN UNDERSTAND ME!), you’re no doubt aware that Lotto Fever has gripped the nation as the Powerball jackpot has risen to a record $800 million at the time of this writing. That’s a lot of money. I mean sure, it may not be ‘space program’ money, but it’s certainly ‘incursion into and overthrow of a small militant nation’ money – and there would still be enough left over to buy some pretty sweet entertainment systems for your tanks!
I’ve never been a big lottery guy. Buying tickets always feels wrong because, for one thing, you have to pay with cash, and I think it’s pretty well understood at this point that cash is only for shady or embarrassing transactions, such as ‘medical’ marijuana, personal escorts, or hemorrhoid creams, and that otherwise, you just pay with a card. In the past, when I have occasionally allowed myself to indulge, I have done so in a low voice and shameful tone, such as one might use at, say, an STD clinic, while never making eye contact with the clerk. I feel like buying tickets identifies me as a sucker, so I always wait until it hits a certain threshold around maybe $200 million before I’ll suffer the embarrassment. Beings as how it’s currently at FOUR TIMES my buy-in level, I think it’s about time to hop on the bandwagon – I should be able to spare a couple bucks for a shot at that. Heck, the coffee I’m drinking cost TWICE what a lottery ticket does, and I didn’t even WANT it! I just bought it for the bonus stars so I could get to my next ‘free’ drink a little sooner – which isn’t really free at all! So there you go. Powerball.
I recently put a lot of thought into what I would do if I won, because there’s not a lot to do on airplanes in the dark, and it seemed like the best use of my time. What I determined was that the issue is bigger than just “What would you spend it all on?” – the obvious answer being a chimp, who I would name ‘Timmy’, and take everywhere I went in a little red wagon dressed in funny human clothing – and really revolves first and foremost how you would stay out of the limelight as much as possible; “Rich and anonymous,” I always say. So in keeping with that mantra, I like to think I would find a good wealth manager and lawyer before going public. Then, when forced to appear for receipt of my comically large cardboard check, I would ask my wife to smile and look lovable as I lied through my teeth. You’d have to give off a sense of humbleness and authenticity, of course, or the whole plan falls apart. I understand this suggestion makes me sound a little bit callous and horrible, but hear me out and see if you still disagree.
The deceit would be two pronged:
- Lie to protect your family and friends from the sycophants that would otherwise come crawling out of the woodwork to take advantage of them. i.e. “Well, we’ve talked to our family and friends, and they felt that the money may do more harm than good for them, so we’ve decided to gift it elsewhere.” Of course this doesn’t mean you let grandma languish in a cheap nursing home – in reality, her cats will have diamond collars and she will never again want for Jell-O – but you can’t let everyone else know that or she’ll be signing those Jell-O checks over to every Sally Sob-Story that knocks on her handicapped-accessible door!
- Lie to protect yourselves from the same people and get out of the limelight as soon as possible. In this case you have to be both specific in claiming that you will be giving the money away, and purposefully vague such that your lie can neither be proven nor disproven easily – i.e. “We feel like we’re in a good place right now, and we’re both happy with our jobs, so we’re going to pay off all of our loans, probably get a couple new cars, and donate the rest anonymously to several predetermined charities.”. In one fell swoop, you turn away the takers, prevent charities from endlessly calling you, and gain the collective goodwill and respect of anyone that’s paying attention! Of course that respect is horribly misplaced, so you’ll want to avoid any further interviews that might serve to expose you – once again, rich and anonymous. Sure, some of you might be saying, “I could never live with myself after having lied to the entire nation about giving a fortune to charity!” but I bet you could buy an awful lot of relief for $800 million – perhaps in the form of champagne and speedboats.
After that, you take all the money and sit on it, Oceans 11 style – keeping your job for a year to galvanize the lie. By then the world will have forgotten about you, and you can quit your job and whatever you want – in my case, purchase a tropical island with a large home, running water, runway and small marina (like this one!) where I can retire and begin building a fearsome navy of local pirates, who I plan to pay in rum and saucy wenches. I will then use this navy to take over any neighboring islands so there’s somewhere for my friends to stay when they visit. I may give one to the pirates too, just so they don’t get out of line – gotta cover your bases. And it might not be a terrible idea to place destruction charges on all the ships too, just in case – better to temporarily lose your navy than risk mutiny. So that’s the lotto plan, which I think is pretty sound. Feel free to use it if you win, but know that I’ll want a percentage of the take for setting you up so well. I’ll settle for one of those surrounding islands.
After I had worked out the lottery plan, and enjoyed my complimentary in-flight nothing, my mind began to wander to other important topics, such as, “Is investing in China right now really worth the risk?”, “What’s the real answer for stopping ISIS not just now, but in the future as well?”, and “Okay, but what if I found a GENIE?!” Obviously the last was the most compelling, and let me tell you, it’s a good thing I spent some time on this, because it turns out that the Genie plan is even MORE complex than the lotto plan! This is where you really have to put your thinking cap on in order to take full advantage of the situation. Now, for clarification, this plan only applies to your standard ‘three wish’ wispy, ethereal-style genies. If you find yourself in an ‘I Dream of Genie’ type of situation wherein you become the master of a cute, magical blonde that falls hopelessly in love with you and grants you any wish you want for life, then by God, wish away and don’t look back! However, since it’s much more likely that a real genie will be less enamored with you and limit you to the three wishes to which you are constitutionally entitled by the 23rd amendment (Magical Interactions: Genies, Leprechauns, Dion Warwick, et al) I believe you should consider the strenuously vetted suggestions below.
- Incredible luck, such that you succeed in every lottery, bet, investment, business venture etc to the maximum degree possible for the rest of your life. I phrase this wish this way for several reasons; first off, if I know one thing about genies, it’s that they’re sneaky and literal, so you have to be specific; second, it seems like – whenever someone wishes for some amount of money – it gets stolen from somewhere else or is otherwise lost quickly. With this wish, you continuously make your own money, so you could blow through everything you have, and then just go win some more! It’s the wish that keeps on giving.
- That you and everyone you care about is happy, healthy, sharp, and vigorous until their last day. This is a little sappy, but you get three wishes, and diseases are sad. Plus what fun is being a globetrotting bazillionaire when the only people you have to hang out with are other globetrotting bazillionaires? Those guys tend to be jerks.
- I’m still undecided, but I think I’m going to go with superpowers here. Either Goku, or the combined *controllable* powers of a select list of X-men. I’m thinking at LEAST Gene Gray, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Gambit, and Storm. You’d have to see what the genie would let you get away with in terms of a list.
Anyway, feel free to use any or all of these suggestions should you find yourselves in either of these situations. Again, all I ask is for a hefty percentage of the winnings – or a little of that luck. Now if you’ll excuse me, my next flight is boarding, and I have to go solve some more of the world’s problems. I hope they have peanuts.