It’s looking like the MegaMillions lottery–which has already shattered the previousworld record for lottery winnings–might net some one nearly HALF A BILLION DOLLARS after taxes. This is a truly staggering amount of money to drop on someone, practically overnight. Of course, posts on Facebook have pointed out that the federal government, that bastion of fiscal responsibility, spends that much in less than an hour-and-a-half…but I digress.
Even those (I count myself among them) who consider lotteries nothing more than a tax on those folks who can’t do math must be at least speculating about winning that much money; it’s the main news story in every paper and on every channel, the topic of conversation in every office in America. What would you do if you suddenly won $500 million? It’s impossible to avoid, at this point.
So I’ve thought about it today. What would I do? So here goes…feel free to agree/disagree. At odds of 176 million to ONE (you’re 50 times more likely to get struck by lightning), I doubt I’ll get a chance to test my plan.
1. Sign the ticket. Like, right away. Until it’s signed, anyone can claim it. So sign the dang thing!
2. Get a lawyer AND a financial consultant. Someone you can trust, preferably…not someone out of the phone book.
3. Call select friends & family to share the news…and swear them to secrecy. Your privacy is about to be bought out for the price of a cool half-billion.
4. Get the money. I’m on the fence on whether to take the lump sum (more taxes, less guarantee, but you get all that money NOW) or the 26-year annuity (less money to play with right away, more guarantee, less taxes). I think I’m leaning towards the lump sum option…unless you can bequeath it. I’d hate to win all that money only to die during the first year and let the Mega folk keep all the cash because of a loophole.
5. Go around to my family and close friends (no, Facebook Friends don’t count)…and pay off all their mortgages. No buying them new houses…just pay off the ones they have now. No taxes, no “oh, we could use a deck/pool/throne room” nonsense either. Just Bam! write a check, mortgage gone. Want a new house? Go ahead…with your own money (which you got lots more of, since I just paid off your mortgage!)
6. Set the kids up with generous trust funds for life. After all, once I do that, I can spend the rest on myself! 😉
7. Invite everyone to meet me at San Francisco airport on a certain date & time. From there, we board a charter plane and fly off to some tropical Bongo-Bongo S Pacific island for all-expense-paid (by me) party-vacation. Probably a week long. Then we all get back on the plane & return. Or maybe Miami & some Caribbean isle, not sure. Anyone know how much to charter a 747?
8. I’d set up a modest ($40 mil? $80 mil?) charitable foundation. I want it big enough to do good things…but not so big that it’s a game-changer, where everyone on the planet bugs me everyday for contributions. This would be my only “job”…coming into the office on a regular basis to assign funding. And yeah…no committee, just me making the decisions. I’d have a staff…just to keep all the outsiders away. Arbitrary? Yup! If charities don’t like it, they don’t have to ask. Everyone gets paid out of the foundation slush fund so any contributions go 100% to the charities I pick.
9. Travel. A LOT. I’d buy apartments in…oh, let’s see…New York City, London, Hong Kong, Brisbane. That way, I can fly in…spend a day or do adjusting to the new time zone in MY place…and then zip off to whatever trip I plan, staying in hotels there. These places would just be my personal forward operating bases.
10. Wow…I got to TEN! I suppose I should think of something clever, just to round out to a nice decimal Top Ten list. But really, I think all I’d really do after all that…is write. This blog thing has me hooked…so I’d indulge that addiction. Nice!
Anyway, that’s my plan. Not that it means anything…but it’s a fun intellectual exercise (and a blog topic too…winning!).