A few days back, out of what must have been millions upon millions of contest entrants, you choose to smile broadly on a lady living in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Statisticians tell us that ‘Ms. Stone Mountain Big Winner Lady’ (not her real name) has a better chance of being struck by lightning than winning the Powerball Lottery. Last week, Ms. Lady is extraordinarily lucky —TWICE then. First, she doesn’t get struck by an electric bolt out of the blue yonder and second, she wins ONE HUNDRED TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS! Given the probabilities, I am sure she prefers being rained on by gazillions of zamoleans as opposed to being hit by all that serious voltage. I know I would.
Ms. Stone Mountain Big Winner Lady handles the whole thing with nonchalant cool aplomb, like she’s done it all before —as if she’s Ella crooning a ballad on a sultry summer night. And get this: not only does she beat those odds of getting struck by lightning, she doesn’t have to experience the usual flummery that people who wind up with ‘stoopid’ money typically have to endure. She doesn’t have to suffer skull crushing concussions as a result of hits by big burly on-rushing NFL defensive linemen. She doesn’t have to chase down long fly balls under a relentless Hotlanta summer sun while running around in what looks remarkably like wool pajamas. She doesn’t have to sell mixed tapes from the trunk of her car or even appear on one of those ridiculous realty TV shows. She has to endure none of that stuff. Neat trick if you ask me.
But despite your excellent overall body of work, there are some issues, Fate. Accordingly, I am writing to in order to point out a few matters of detail that I feel, require your attention for future proceedings. I’m not complaining mind you. Who, in their right mind would want to tempt you—i.e. pick a fight with Fate? I’ m just suggesting some adjustments to your protocols and some minimums that you might require of the winners of any future large lottery largesse.
These suggestions, outlined below, have to do with giving a little something for the rest of us, those millions and millions and millions of Lotto Losers who won exactly ZILCH last week — except the right to dream a little. We need something, Fate, some small psychic consolation prize –anything actually–that will allow each and every one of us poor lotto schlubs to feel that had we but done say, “…this one leettle, teeny, tiny thing differently” — whatever that little thing might have been, it could have been us with the winning numbers; it could have been one of us living the dream. If that’s too much then give us something of small entertainment value — maybe say a ‘toilet paper on the bottom of the shoe’ moment (perhaps while she waits in line at the bank to make her big deposit, laughing her ass off at us still broke lotto schleps.) In essence, rather than continuing to use your existing ‘no strings’ method of awarding lotto largesse, there need to be a few strings attached.
As you will remember, Fate, Ms. Stone Mountain Big Winner Lady, using no science, no probabilities, no statistics, not even any of those dumb astrological charts or dream books, sashays into a Buckhead Atlanta newsstand and blithely calls out her kids’ birthdays. Voila — she wins!!! She wins! What the hell kind of method is that Fate? The Tao of Birthdays? So the first string…er, huh ‘recommendation’ is that you require all future winners to have used some semblance of the scientific method for choosing winning numbers: algorithms, logarithms, geometric progressions, picking numbers out of a hat — something vaguely systematic the rest of us can mimic and hang our fedoras on for our own future efforts. Delusional though it may be, we lotto losers need to at least believe that you, Fate, are not flirting with us; that you are not really the random, arbitrary, capricious and fickle cad you are oft rumored to be. Pssst! If future winners choose still not to employ some kind of scientific please instruct them to at least lie to us and SAY they did!
When asked by Georgia Lottery HQ what she was going to do with all that money, Ms. Big Winner Lady politely replies: “I dunno. My family and I are going to have to think it over.” ARE YA KIDDIN’ ME? REALLY!? Seems to me, Fate, that any self-respecting lotto winner should have a plan already in place —for many years.
Take me, for instance. The VERY first thing I do will be to remove myself from nearby tall metal objects that conduct electricity since those pesky statisticians immediately screw with the odds of a nearby lightning strike after a Lotto win. As for the rest of my plan, there ain’t nearly enough bandwidth here to discuss them in full but they involve a jet helicopter, Augusta National Golf Club, hot women, fast cars, milk chocolate, grain alcohol, fine tobacco, long vacations in the South of France and a very vivid imagination. SIN! My imagined noveau-rich self plans on living large, in charge and wielding power like one of those Republicans you hear so much about. I’ll be starting my own political action committee, WILL-PAC! Then, throwing my weight around like the Tea Party, I’ll be “…changing some LAWZZZZZ around here Baby” starting with Blue ones and the ones prohibiting the sale of liquor in close proximity of a church. Striking a blow for humanity, when my ‘after-winning-the-Powerball -regime’ begins those laws that allow the cops to put those evil cameras atop traffic intersections in order to photograph everybody’s license plates two nanoseconds after the light turns red will be history within a year!
Very little of my plans involve philanthropy. Charity seems a worthwhile endeavor, but as I see it, direct charitable funding is Bill Gates job and Warren Buffett’s, Walter Annenburg and other well-heeled folk who already have had a long and …er, rich history with stoopid money. Any jackpot winner that plans to give up huge sums DIRECTLY to charity is either lying or they didn’t know what to do with all that dough in the first place. Might as well give it, Dear Fate to somebody who knows what to do with serious jack. None of us worker bees REALLY knows anything about giving money away. Most of us, excepting for embellishing on the income tax return the value of the termite-infested, throw-away old furniture we gave to the Kidney Foundation, don’t have a clue about how to really giving to charity. After winning the lotto I will now be living like one of those Republicans. Thus my plan is help the economy directly. “Let the multiplier effect kick in”, I say. Funnel modest monetary sums to ‘the hot women of Will’s Plan’ —and if they want to then pass it on to charity, well, that’s their business. My ongoing life mission will be to die broke!
Back in the reality of the moment, hearsay and gossip has it that Ms. Stone Mountain Big Winner Lady is one cool customer when given the good news. She doesn’t scream, faint, or even run her car off the road. She don’t even soil her underwear –as far as she admits. While this is all classy, cool and maddeningly professional, it lacks ‘proletarian flair’, in everyday parlance: ‘losing it.” When her daughter confirms over he phone she’s matched the jackpot numbers, Ms. Lady doesn’t even cuss at the kid saying something akin to “Listen you little so and so, you know those numbers couldn’t possibly match. I’m tired of your practical jokes. Don’t %$#@ with me this morning, I’m already late for work.” Accordingly, in the future, with regard to the manner in which the winner receives the new, it should be with UTTER HAIR RAISING SHOCK AND AWE. Note the same news bodega where the winner bought the winning ticket also probably sells clean underwear.
Hopefully, Ms. Stone Mountain Big Winner Lady after getting the astounding news, turns her car around, goes to lottery HQ, collects her money and then cusses out her boss over the phone, giving him/her the piece of her mind like you know she’s always dreamed of doing. But whether Ms. Lady did it or not this time, make it a firm requirement that any future winner-elect NEVER SET FOOT IN THE OL’ WORKPLACE AGAIN! If they do happen to feign this phony ‘ I’m going continue to work” silliness (some of your past nominees have actually done this, you know) immediately cancel the transaction. This could be the proper occasion and venue for some of that lightning stuff.
Quite frankly, whenever I hear that some guy whose hit the jackpot saying that he will continue working and “…being the same person I always was,” I am suspicious. The guy is most likely hiding something nefarious at his desk and should be investigated by the authorities –and fast too, before the guy comes to his senses, does forget the boring mess his life is, does becomes somebody else and does leave for a recently purchased hacienda in Upper Patagonia or somewhere the U.S. has no extradition treaty.
The rest of us Lotto Losers congratulate Ms. Stone Mountain Big Winner Lady and wish her best with that lightning thing since according to statisticians, the odds may have now shifted a bit out her favor. The rest of us WOULD wish her the Best of Luck but she’s already had enough damn luck to last 200 lifetimes. We are confident though that she will live happily ever after. We know this because despite what any shyster televangelist or some delusional poor person trying to assuage themselves about their own lack of discretionary income may say to the contrary, “Money Can Buy Happiness.”
Anyone who says otherwise just ain’t shopping in the right places! – Will