By LEON YOUNGBLOOD
So much has happened since the $700,000,000 Powerball lottery the subject is pretty well forgotten around here, and everywhere else, too.
The catastrophe of Hurricane Harvey, the unfortunate high school fire at Cameron, and numerous other things direct our attentions back to our own fortunes and misfortunes. We go on living; and for many, a big part of living includes doing what we can to help others.
But I have to go back, for last week’s “Losing the Lottery” story isn’t quite finished. I have received constructive criticism about it, and while it does help, I’m probably not a better man for the observations.
For one thing, I was accused by a well-meaning person of being “insensitive” and “politically incorrect” with the (accurate) representation of Billy’s way of speaking. “Political correctness” seems to be the current popularly embraced mode of lying.
Nationally, it’s merely a matter of not reporting news as it is and not calling things what they are. It is easy, it is cowardly, it is deceptive. But this subject will be saved for a future column.
There were the usual criticisms (constructive) of my eccentric (someone said ignorant) writing style, my grammatical errors and morals, and one fresh inquiry, “What were the results of your last polygraph test?” Never having had a polygraph test, I could not answer that question.
But this was all a very small portion of the discussions. The conversations soon became about the $700,000,000 lottery. There wasn’t a deadbeat freelance writer/artist friend of mine who did not buy at least one ticket! It’s a small group, but everyone knew how they would use the money, after they’d moved to Barbados. And everyone had an anecdote, too.
You know, it seems if you win, you lose. Earned wealth is one thing; unearned wealth, another, and lottery winners often do not handle money well. This makes sense, of course. If they did handle money well, they probably would not be buying lottery tickets.
Big winners often spend the cash quickly and foolishly. Often, they wish they had been more respectful to the boss after they told him what to do with their job, only to return to ask for their position back after a couple of years when the lotto money is spent.
But what do you do if you are a Mega-winner? The info is, you will need a new unlisted phone number, a box at the Post Office (rather than a street address), secured entrance to your property, big dogs, a gun—all because people will want a share of the money.
Relatives you haven’t seen in decades will show up, asking for a handout. Every imaginable charity will want a “donation”—a large donation. Shyster lawyers will represent shady characters in phony lawsuits, wanting their portion. The advice is, keep your winnings private. At least, keep a low profile.
And learn to say, “No,” with varying degrees of emphasis, as in a polite, “I’m sorry, no.” If that doesn’t work, move to, “No.” Then, “No! And I ain’t sorry, either!” If none of these rejections produce the desired result, haul out the angry, “NO!”
Add a few expletives. If none of this works, call the previously mentioned big dogs. You have a multi-million dollar cross to bear, now. You do not need to be additionally burdened by freeloaders.
You’ll need guides and advisors, too: a William Buffet caliber financial director, a “Perry Mason” caliber attorney, a “Milburn Drysdale” caliber banker, and so forth. This reflects the opinions of the few persons I talked to, none of whom ever won any lottery.
And if you win, take a few days off to let things settle down before you cash in the ticket. Make sure you’ve signed it, make sure it’s safe. Then take three or four days to settle down yourself.
In my circle, someone observed, “Money can’t buy everything.” Instantly, somebody else observed, “What money can’t buy, I don’t need.” Still, sudden wealth can be treacherous ground.
Really, though, this probably isn’t a major concern. The odds of winning one of these mega-jackpots are over 200,000,000 to 1. But if you invest the money you spend on lotto tickets in a 25-year interest-producing savings account, you’d stand a 100 percent chance of doubling your money.
All the same, I hope the Heavener Ledger soon reports a “local” has won a megabucks lottery. What’s more, I hope the story is about me.
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