Wednesday, November 9, 2011

So Is Winning the Lottery Worth It?

Last Tuesday, Nov. 1, a lifetime friend of mine called me. I wasn’t home at the time, so she left voicemail. “Sis” lives about a mile from me, here in Florida. When I returned home, I called her back.

“Did you read today’s paper?” she asked.

“Nope, I just got home from my bike ride and I just picked it up,” I replied, asking her if she was referring to the Englewood Sun or the Herald Tribune. She said that she was referring to the Sun. I told her that I don’t get that paper.

“Have you checked the lottery numbers?” she asked.

“Yep, I check them online every morning,” was my reply.

“Someone from Englewood won the Mega Money drawing,” she said, “And I know that person.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yes, it’s me,” she said, hardly able to contain herself.

You could have knocked me over with a feather! Sis, a widow who survives on Social Security, spent $8.00 for four plays, two drawings for Tuesday and Friday (Nov. 4). The particular drawing consists of choosing four numbers from 1-44 and a Megaball number from 1-22. The jackpot begins with a $500,000.00 prize and advances if there is no winner, the jackpot can climb to $2,000,000.00.

She didn’t choose the numbers, opting for “quick picks” instead.

Lady Luck sure was with her. Sis got all four numbers and the Megaball number. The jackpot was $1,400,000.00, and she nabbed it all, being the only winner!

Her daughter drove to Englewood from upstate Florida the next morning to take Sis and her “boyfriend” to Tallahassee to collect the loot.

“I hope I never win again,” was the first thing Sis told me when she returned to Englewood on Friday. They had arrived after the lottery office closed on Wednesday and they had to stay overnight in Tallahassee. The next morning they were at the office bright and early, at 9 a.m., when the office reopened.

She told me that they were there until nearly 5 p.m.! The lottery officials did a complete background/criminal check on her. They checked to see if she was behind or in default of any child support payments. Yeah! An 84-year-old widow defaulting on child support! As if!

She was warned that people will be coming to her door with hard-luck stories, asking for money. I have NO idea why her address should be made public. One would think that a winner would not have their address revealed, especially if it’s known that beggars would become an issue.

She was told that people will try to scam her. As if lottery winners don’t already know that. She was told that she would need to open a sufficient number of accounts to be certain that FDIC would cover all of them. I had already recommended to her that she open accounts a) in her name, b) in her name and the names of each of her three children, not as co-owners, but payable upon her death. She was aware of that when she went to the lottery office.

She was told that she should to hire an attorney (I think everyone is aware of this). Her cut of Federal taxes was immediately taken out of the proceeds.

She was told that the proceeds would be wired to her main bank on Nov. 8.

Sis said the day at the lottery office was “exhausting” and that she hoped that she’d never have to go through anything like that again.

“So what are you doing for yourself,” I asked her, “to celebrate your good fortune?”

“Well, I’m going to go through my closet on Monday and toss out some older clothing and get some new things.”

Isn’t it amazing? We all dream about what we’d do with a million dollars, and this simple woman chose clothing to be first on her list.

Sis told me that she’s also treating her boyfriend and herself to a first-class cruise to Hawaii.

Joe has taken her on numerous cruises, jaunts to casinos in Florida and Mississippi in the past several years.

She also told Joe that he was taking both of them out for breakfast the next day, “and I’ll take care of the tip,” she added!

So, knowing what a winner plans to do with her winnings, what would you do if you were lucky enough to win more than a million dollars?