“When You Get Your Billion…”

Saturday Update: From the Mega Millions web site Saturday, March 31: Three tickets matched all six numbers in the Friday, March 30, Mega Millions drawing. Those tickets will split the jackpot, estimated at a record-shattering $640 million.  Those tickets were bought in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland.

When I was seventeen, my friends and I talked about being rich. I surmised, correctly so, that a million dollars would not be enough money, and I would need a billion dollars. In talking about what we would do with it, I mostly said I would invest it wisely, but I also talked about owning a Nissan 280 ZX, which I thought was the coolest car at the time. In my yearbook, my best friend in my senior year, we’ll call him “Skip,” wrote in my yearbook, “When you get your billion and your Nissan 280 ZX Turbo, you might (wait, let me flip this sentence) {which he wrote because he ran out of space in the right-side-up portion of the yearbook page} be able to keep up with me… (but) you’ll still be licking my ass because I have a Camaro Z-28 and that makes me better than you.”

It was a pretty funny thing to write, actually.

I thought of that today as I bought a Mega-Millions ticket after gassing up my car in Ada today. As I write this, the jackpot value of the Mega-Millions multi-state lottery has reached more than $500,000,000, which is a half a billion dollars. Yikes, that’s a lot of money.

Abby and I have our lottery fantasies just like everyone else, except that hers are generally more altruistic than mine. I imagine we would diversely invest the biggest part of it. We might set up a scholarship foundation for all the kids in the family. I doubt I would buy the Nissan 370Z, the grandchild of the 280 ZX, but I might go car shopping.

Some of my co-workers were kicking around notions of how best to play the lottery to win it, but statistically, the only choice that makes any sense is to buy just one ticket. Statisticians will tell you that when odds are astronomical, as they are in tomorrow’s jackpot drawing, buying more tickets may seem like doubling or tripling your chances, but the truth is that they remain statistically insignificant until you buy about 100,000 tickets. Even then, it’s a slim chance. So buy a ticket and dream your dreams.

Another neat statistic about lotteries is that nearly 50% of all lottery winners are broke after five years. Enjoy!

This picture, culled from the internet, shows a 1982 Camaro similar to "Skip's" Camaro. It was a fun car, but only a shadow of the former great American muscle cars of the 60's and 70's.
This picture, culled from the internet, shows a 1982 Camaro similar to “Skip’s” Camaro. It was a fun car, but only a shadow of the former great American muscle cars of the 60’s and 70’s.


  1. “nearly 50% of all lottery winners are broke after five years”

    I wonder though: What percentage of them were broke to start with? What percentage quit a good job when they won?

    My earliest “lottery fantasies” were actually about the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes… I’d never heard about the lottery at that point. As kids, we said we’d buy houses and cars — we really couldn’t think of any other big-ticket items at the time.

    Now? I worry about how many family members or ex-friends would show up asking for, or at least expecting a handout. I wonder how many would get pissed if we gave them nothing, and how many who *did* get something would think they didn’t get a fair shake.

    I worry about which investment/savings/funds/CDs/etc. would be the least risky, and how to diversify the saved money for the most longlasting dependability…

    Most of all, I’m chastised by my wife who says it’s pointless to think about it if I never actually go buy a ticket. ;-)

  2. They do not sell broasted chicken at “Let’s call it “EZ GO AWAY!”

    Did your daughter happen to purchase her mega million ticket at a 7-11 in Baltimore??

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