Winning the Lottery

Winning the Lottery December 18, 2013


What would you do if you won the lottery?

My husband and I had a dinner conversation about this last night. The lottery had gotten up to some stupendous number and he’d gone all in and bought a $5.00 ticket. Or maybe he bought five $1 tickets. I’m not sure.

All I know is that he came home and told me that this was our one chance to have a happy life. After we finished laughing, we slipped into the what if? talk that surrounds things like this.

What if we won?

Here’s the interesting part. I couldn’t think of anything I would want for myself. We’re not rich, and I have all sorts of things I am hoping to save up for and buy eventually. But, the wanting and saving are part of the fun. I think that if I couldn’t want things and if I wasn’t forced to save and plan in order to be able to get them, the acquisition itself would become a bore.

Here’s a for-instance. I would love to buy a piano with a prettier sound than the one I have. The one I have is plenty of piano for me and my talents. But I just want a piano with more possibilities built into it. Just in case, I suppose, I ever get to the point in my playing that I can tease those possibilities out of it and create the music I long to create.

If I won the lottery, I could buy just about any piano out there. But the whole idea seems flat. I’d honestly much rather save up and buy a nice used piano in a year or two — after I’ve mooned over them and longed for it the whole time — than just do it like getting ice out of the refrigerator. I enjoy the process of earning things. It makes them mine in a fuller sense when I eventually get them.

The camera I bought is a case in point. I’ve looked at that camera for two years now. I waited and saved and then, when it came down in price, I finally got it. Now, I am sooooo thrilled with it. I can’t keep my hands off it. I don’t even want to sleep. I just want to play with it.

If I’d been able to just go get it when it first came out, how much fun would that have been?

There were three things I came up as my husband and I mused our way through this what if conversation.

1. I would give a whole pile of money to All Things New, which is an organization that rescues trafficked women.

2. I would donate the money to build a new Catholic Church in deep South Oklahoma City.

3. I would donate the money to build a new Catholic Church in inner South Oklahoma City.

The Catholic population is growing rapidly in my part of town and, even while the numbers at parishes climb, quite a few people are leaving the Church because they feel crowded out. We simply need facilities to create and preserve Catholic communities here.

Other than these things, the only thing I could come up with would be to use the money to fund a foundation and then decide later. In all honesty, I delay things until I have the money, but I eventually get around to doing most of the things I want. I am having a blessed life, and I know it.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

Would you quit your job the next day?

Would you move to a new house?

Would you take your family on a cruise?

The amount of money that was on the line in the lottery yesterday — hundreds of millions of dollars — was beyond my comprehension. My husband told me that if we won it, we’d have to move and go incognito for our own safety.

My reaction to that was thank you, but no. That doesn’t sound like a gift. It sounds like a sentence.

My home/family/community give my life structure. This is my place, my spot in the world. What could money possibly give me to compensate for losing that?

What-would-I-do-if-I-won the lottery is a great dinner conversation game to play. It also can have a certain value to it. I had no idea that I am so content with my home/family/life until I tried to think of ways that a lot of money could improve it.

What would you do if you won the lottery? Would it be a gift to your life, or a sentence?



Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment

19 responses to “Winning the Lottery”

  1. I won! I won! I won!!!! Well, I won two bucks. 😀
    Though i enjoy my job, I would quit. It would give me the time to write that novel I’ve always wanted to write. I would also like a second home in a warm part of the country. And I would probably upgrade from the home I own now.

  2. We would have taken all the cards from the Giving Tree that weren’t taken and fulfilled the wishes on them. We would give our parents and siblings financial freedom. We would give the money for the new roof and parish hall for our Church. I don’t know what else we would do but I’m sure lots and lots of the money would be given away.

    For ourselves, we would probably give our company to the employees. We would tell our kids they don’t have to consider finances when choosing where to go to college.

    For me, I’d plan a fantastic getaway with my husband without the kids.

    I feel very fortunate that I don’t have any needs that aren’t met and don’t have many wants.

  3. The only sane way to go is to demand anonymity before coming forward with your claim. After that, for us who are comfortably well off (have a house, car, etc.), paying off all debts, sinking money into retirement accounts that you can’t get your mitts on, donating to charity seems wisest. And NO lump sum payouts, people always blow those in a few years–take the annual infusion of cash and keep sinking it into charity and savings. As for, would it be a blessing or curse, I think it COULD be a blessing, but only if you can avoid becoming the “bank” for the needy/greedy and don’t let it drive you to live a dissolute life because you suddenly can “afford” to. As a general principal, I think such wins usually ARE curses, long term. So, I don’t bother playing lotteries. That, and my logical nature agrees with the bumper sticker that says, “Lotto: a tax on those who are bad at math.” 😉

  4. The kinds of prizes we have seen in recent times are almost frightening
    Any person who wins that kind of money needs to Run to Jesus for protection. Protection from the world and from themselves.

  5. Security for my family first, security for as many others as possible second. I’d pay off my house and my brother’s farm. I’d then go searching for a farm in a community without land use laws or with laxer land use laws, and build the ultimate distributist/autarkist commune, with a chapel, an old folks home, a hospice center, a retreat center, a large RV park, a 40 to 50 acre garden, ambient energy generation, and livestock. And then I’d find as many homeless and old people as I could to live there.

  6. Firstly, I would try to demand anonymity. Where I would be going, I would hope it would be too difficult for very many grifters to make the effort to get at me.

    (1) I would set my parents up so they would be a little more comfy in their old age. They were robbed of the pension my dad worked for 35 years to earn by the Obama administration, so they are subsisting on SS. I would set up some kind of fund for them to make their final years a little more comfortable. They already own a small house, so it would be more like a vacation/home repair/emergency fund. Oh, and those would not be world travel vacations … dad can’t fly … it would be more like go visit Cousin Sally in the neighboring state while we’re both alive type vacations.

    (2) I would buy and fix up a small place in the same neighborhood as my parents; it’s in a small town in the middle of nowheresville in flyover country. I would move there and help take care of them in their final years. My spouse and I would no longer be compelled to work to put bread on the table, but we want to work and would be able to choose telecommuting type work that might be less secure. It would be OK because there wouldn’t be that anxiety about making next month’s electric bill and we would be with family. Probably my main work would be (4) below.

    (3) I would make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to Rome, and to the other great religious sites in Europe.

    (4) I would set up a charity/foundation in such a way that I would direct where all the money would go. Upon my death, the fund would be liquidated with final gifts to charity. I would not want my foundation to be twisted and perverted as so many of those rich peoples’ foundations that started out well have been treated by the successor trustees. So my direction and then liquidation at my death. If the winnings was really huge, I guess I would have to hire some kind of staff to assist with that.

    Things I would not automatically do: set up my siblings for life; set up my children for life; pay all my children’s college expenses. People need the dignity of work until they are too old or sick to work; then they need dignified care.

  7. If I won I would transition out of my job but still do what I do independently. I would get a new house but not too fancy just more functional. College would be set and I would take my family to walk the Way in Spain to St. James church and then chill in the Mediteranean. The only luxury item that’s always been on my list was a Steinway grand piano..

    But mostly I visualized righting injustices and helping people. The main one would be to pay the legal bills of a former journalism professor who stood up for his students against a powerful priest at a Jesuit school who tried to ruin him financially. It’s a heartbreaking story but one of great college. That was the best part imagining having the means to change peoples lives…I guess we have that with our faith if not great finances.

  8. Set aside enough for a secure retirement and future children’s college educations, some sunstantial but still modest spending money, and donate the rest of it to the Church. A few months ago I would have added political causes, but I’m sick of the politicians at the moment.

  9. I did once win ten pounds.
    If I won money on that scale? First, I would go through all my close family and friends and pay off all their debts, including house and car mortgages. I would give them anything they NEED, within reason – sorry, but that high-speed sea racing boat you will have to provide yourself – and make sure they’re provided for old age. Second, I would go looking for a certain woman and find out if she is all right and if she needs anything. Once that is done, I would see to fulfilling a few dreams of mine. Unlike you, I definitely have not got most of what I need from life, and a flat somewhere, perhaps a house in the mountain, a camper van to travel where I like, and a few other things would definitely improve my life. But then I would have to stop, think, and face my responsibilities. Money of the kind we are speaking about – tens of millions of pounds here in the UK, hundreds of millions of dollars in the USA – would make me a capitalist entity whether I wanted to or not. Even if I took the Gospel command and went and sold and gave it all to the poor, I might still do more harm than good, as the example of Bill Gates and his wife shows. So I would have to think about the use of the money responsibly, and find good things to invest in – not just good in the sense of morally good, but also of being a good, sound investment. Dante placed wasters in Hell, and I agree with him.

  10. I know I would have enough money to pay for the care my husband will eventually need, and perhaps some left over to leave my children when we’re both gone. One child is in financial trouble right now, due to medical bills. We are comfortable, but extra would be nice as insurance for the future. There are charities I would donate to also.

  11. PS to what I just wrote. Chances of winning are slim to none—I don’t buy the tickets. And as we’re already retired, I wouldn’t have to retire, but I probably would if we were still working. .

  12. I’d buy a house. I’ve always wanted one but never could afford it. I’d establish trust funds for the grandchildren. I’d give to our local Catholic church. I’d travel. I’ve always wanted to but I’ve never even been west of the Mississippi. Then I’d retire and do the volunteering I’d love to do.

    But I guess I’ll end up working till I’m old.

  13. I won $2 also, Manny! Isn’t it exciting? I plan to use it on more lottery tickets the next time it reaches a mind-boggling amount of money.

  14. It’s a really good question, Rebecca. One can tell a lot about a person by what they would do (or at least, what they SAY they would do) if they won. I think one would have to be on constant guard for “rich person creep”, i.e. slipping more and more into the rich person’s lifestyle and attitude, if one won. I believe it would be spiritually dangerous. Yet, I am willing to try it, all the same! 😉

    If I win, I would pay off all of my family’s debts and make sure they are taken care of with their needs. I’d help close friends in need. I’d get a nice RV. I’d get a pinball machine or two. I’d quit my job, and my new job would be to determine what causes are worthy of the $$$.

  15. I don’t know how to send you a private note; DISQUS doesn’t seem to allow for that. But whatever medical problem your husband is enduring, may God grant him strength and health. And may God look after you and your children as well.

  16. Thank you so much for your kind words, Manny. It is truly appreciated. Though we do not always agree, I know from your comments that you are a very caring person. I will take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.