80-year-old retired school principal, Harold Diamond, is the sole winner of the $326 million Mega Millions jackpot, the biggest prize in botb spot the ball. Harold just happens to be my neighbor –sort of– he lives a few towns over in upstate New York’s, Sullivan County. He bought the ticket at a gas station about 20 miles from my country house when he stopped (at his wife Carol’s insistence) to wait out a storm. He bought 10 tickets for $10;
“I put the ticket in my wallet and forgot about it. I went to play golf the next day and the guys in the clubhouse were talking about the jackpot-winning ticket someone bought at a Valero on Route 302 and I thought, ‘Wait a minute, I bought a ticket there last night.’”
At his age, it’s not a big surprise that he chose to take the cash value, which comes to $130 million, after taxes. He says he plans to use the money to “help family and give back to the local community”. Good for him. That’s exciting that someone who was a high-school principal and live on a modest income gets such a big payday. Thrilled for him –but not really.
Seriously, if you’re 80, and lived your whole life in poor Sullivan County for 50+ years as a school principal, how are you going to deal with that much money all of the sudden? He would have been just as happy with $1 million, happier, I suspect. If he has an above-average life expectancy, he’s got a decade or so to enjoy it and if you have no experience with tens of thousands of dollars –let a lone millions– it will torture him and his wife in their final years.
You might disagree, but most people have NO IDEA how to enrich their existing lives, beyond the cliché idea of wealth; new house, new car, fancy vacation, “help the kids”, and give to charity. That last one sounds good but even that can be tricky. To be really effective at being a philanthropist, you’ll need a good lawyer, a trust plus a foundation to give away that much money. Otherwise, with no imagination or research into worthwhile organizations, the local rotary club and fire department will be REALLY loaded. (Harold was a volunteer fireman for 50 years.) Seriously, I hope he does give it away to the local community which is poor and can use all the help it can get. But who, how much and where is the question? Thoughts of money will likely consume his final days. That much cash in the bank is a HUGE responsibility and in your retirement, it will be the OPPOSITE of relaxing.
The one thing the “idea” of that much cash can do though is solidify YOUR desires. Yes, you. So, here’s my question? What would you do with that much dough? How would your life be different. Imagine it fully, in as great a detail as you care to. (This is creative visualization and takes time to refine the idea… it’s not an off-the-top-of-your-head kinda thing.) OK, got it? Now what’s stopping you? Money, you say? If the life you just imagined is radically different that the one you have now, start to make those changes to head in that direction ASAP. If you imagined living at the beach and you live in Minnesota, that’s doable. If it centers on work, which most people’s dreams & nightmares do, see what it is you REALLY want to be doing. Writing music? Running a restaurant? But if your answer is like Harold Diamond’s, then you’re good as is.
And as the joke goes, whether you buy a lottery ticket or not, your chances are pretty much the same. Good luck!