Since I'm now not officially "employed," rather I work on a freelance basis, I do play the lottery, and when I go to my local grocery store, I buy a $5 ticket once a week. I've actually won a couple of times too. Now, by "win" I don't mean millions, but I have won $1 here and $2 there, and on one momentous occasion I actually won $1,000, which was exciting until the government sent me a 1099 and I had to pay taxes on it.
Then you see the shows that follow people who have won millions, which tell us what they've done and what they now have to show for it. Sadly, in most circumstances, most people have frittered away many millions of dollars on cars (usually Corvettes), personalized pool tables, diamond-encrusted cowboy boots and all the other essentials of life.
Which is why you want me to win millions, if not tens of millions in the lottery. That's right: me. Why? Because I know what I'd do with the money and most of it would go to other people and charities, and I'd therefore take a burden off taxpayers.
Let's start with how much. Winning say $5 million in this day and age, especially when you live in southern California, won't go very far. It's certainly not something you can retire on unless you leave California and go live somewhere where the cost of living is much lower and educating a child at college doesn't cost an arm and a leg. $10 million allows you to breathe a little easier. Pay off debts, stash money for college, top up the retirement account and quit worrying quite so much about health care costs and old age. And yes, I recognize that all these are "first world problems."
Anything above $10 million is total gravy, and no, this isn't a scientific, mathematical process I've been through to come up with that amount, just a lot of thinking about needs and wants. First of all, I have to assess the tax I'll need to pay, since the federal government, state government and heaven knows who else, will take their cut. The next thing is to think of which charities I want to donate to. I have a few favorites and I guess we all do. They need help, so they'll get it. Next I have family and friends who I know need support, and finally, there are the debts, housing costs, college funds, healthcare funds, retirement funds and other necessities that need to be considered for the next 50 years or so (yes, I'm assuming I'll live to be 100). After that, you'll find me writing, adopting dogs and volunteering for causes I love.
Anything left over? Well, maybe there's a Lotus with my name on it and definitely a trip on Virgin Galactic, but I'll leave anything diamond-encrusted to those with less imagination.
So, what would you do with your winnings?