I buy a lottery ticket on average about once a week. Usually I’m picking up milk or coffee creamer or ice cream at the liquor store across the street and I’ll throw in a buck for Super Lotto. I guess if I found a milkman who delivered for a reasonable price I’d never buy a lottery ticket. On the other hand, I’d miss out on seeing all the interesting characters at my local liquor store.
Once I won $11 dollars playing lotto, which due to the law of averages virtually guarantees that I’ll never win anything again in my life, whether it’s charity bingo or a shot on The Voice. Yet I continue to buy that single lotto ticket. A girl can dream, can’t she?
When last week’s Powerball surpassed a staggering $590 million, I did something I don’t normally do. I bought $10 worth of tickets, which in Powerball-speak is only 5 tickets. Ten dollars is a fortune to me these days, so it was a big gamble. Apparently the odds of winning were higher than being struck by lightning and simultaneously have a grand piano fall on my head, or something like that. But as the commercials say, you can’t win if you don’t play.
But you know what? I did win! A whopping 3 dollars! And now I have a big dilemma:
How do I spend my winnings?
First of all, should I take it in one lump sum or have it doled out to me in annual payments for the next 30 years? I could really use the 3 dollars now, but it might be very handy to get that windfall of a dime each year for the next 30 years. That way I wouldn’t have the misfortune of blowing it all at once.
Should I spend the wad of cash or invest it? When they win lotto, a lot of people decide to take a trip. I might want to do that. I could pay $1.50 to take the Metro Red Line to LA’s Union Station and then another $1.50 for the Blue Line transfer to the Long Beach Aquarium. The problem then would be that I wouldn’t have any money to get home. That’s the downfall of so many lotto winners. They wipe out their winnings on that African safari but then are forced to return as a stowaway on a cargo ship when the money runs out.
Maybe I’ll invest my $3 in my credit union. They currently pay .15% interest, so this time next year I’ll have $3.04½. I’m not sure if they’ll be generous enough to round that ½ cent upward for a total of $3.05 or if I have to wait a second year to make it an even 9 cents. If it’s only 4 cents, I’m not sure if that would get me much. Some parking meters will still take a nickel, but if you shove 4 pennies into the slot, you’re still going to get a parking ticket. In fact, by the time you plug all those coins, your meter will already be clicking back on “expired.”
I’ll be forced to pay taxes, so the total might only come to half of the 3 bucks. Too bad Uncle Sam won’t let me count that buck a week loss for the past decade to counter my winnings. With $3, I might have enough to buy an actual Starbucks coffee, but after taxes, I’d have to fill up my caffeine intake at 7/11 instead. And after dropping a few cents in the palm of that homeless guy hanging around out front, I may be bumming the cash back from him to get that cup of burnt java.
I’m also afraid that when word gets out that I’ve won lotto, every 3rd cousin and anyone who’s read about me on Patch is gonna be looking for a handout. I’ll be getting requests from strangers who want me to treat their precious lhasa apso’s diabetes or beg me to donate to their foundation to help shopaholics from hoarding Bloomingdale’s shoe purchases. By then, there wouldn’t even be a quarter left to give my son a mechanical pony ride outside of K-Mart.
There’s the fear that my kids will be kidnapped for ransom, or that my husband will poison me so he can keep all the money. I could develop a costly drug habit just as Prop D passed and all those stinky shops with the green crosses will be closing their doors, forcing me to feed my addiction elsewhere. I might be hounded by news crews day and night, and I’ll have to go into hiding. The liquor store where I bought the ticket would need to hire an extra cashier just to handle all the extra lotto tickets sales from people hoping that lightning and a falling grand piano might strike twice in the same spot.
What a headache!
I think I’ll just use my $3 winnings to buy a couple of Advil.