I was at brunch today, and the restaurant was abuzz with talk of the growing Powerball jackpot. Problems that would be solved. Boats that would be purchased. Debts that would be paid. Exotic locales that would be visited. If only…
But I don’t envy the Powerball winner.
Like some others, I won’t be playing the Powerball at all. For starters, I choose not to pay voluntary taxes. This doesn’t stem from some sanctimonious high horse on which I sit. I can understand the broad appeal for those who choose to play. And it isn’t the odds: 1 in 292.2 million. Ticket sales from Friday and Saturday alone were expected to approach nearly $700 million.
The allure of winnings in excess of one billion dollars is obvious. Even after Uncle Sam gets his cut, an astronomical sum will remain.
But the reason I won’t play and don’t envy the Powerball winner is because they will find themselves in an entirely unenviable position. For decades, stories of lottery winners have littered print media and reality television. Cautionary tales of people making unadvisable choices and listening to the wrong people. Their lives now in shambles.
Yet, not everyone would make those same, poor choices.
To consider a hypothetical, let’s just say the winner (and I realize there could be more than one) chooses to share. Let’s assume this person wishes to be generous and give away a sizeable portion of the winnings to individuals in need, crisis relief efforts, non-profit organizations serving the at-risk population, and so on.
No matter how much good this altruistic person is able to do with the money — even if ALL of the money was given away — there will still be abject disappointment. Social media will abound with opinions supporting causes more worthy than those selected.
Why didn’t WE get any of that money?
What about OUR neighborhood?
Remember ME from high school?
Or maybe the cousin who would like to pursue a graduate degree but can’t afford it on their own right now. The friend whose in-laws know a family with a child battling a terminal disease and the experimental medication is more than their budget can bear.
Managing the requests would be a full-time job. Constantly determining who gets money and who doesn’t….no, thank you.
A life of comfortable anonymity will be replaced with one of overnight celbrity. Media outlets will dig into their personal life. EVERYWHERE the winner goes, someone will want to bend their ear. And when expectations aren’t met, labels are assigned.
The Powerball winner will be in the no-win situation to end all no-win situations.
Sometime in the coming days, there will be a winner. This individual’s life will change forever. The possibility of untold wealth will be directly within their grasp.
I’m just glad it won’t be me.