Tag Archives: jackpot

Too good to be true

If you think something’s too good to be true, that’s when most people would say something like, you’re right, it is too good to be true. But it might not be. It might just be too good while at the same time being totally true. Like winning the lottery. I’ve never won the lottery, so I can’t actually make a comment based on any sort of real experience, but people win the lottery. Regular people, week after week, jackpot, winning numbers, ten million, fifty million, three hundred and seventy six million dollars that previously had not been in your bank account, and all of the sudden you have to hire wealth management companies, you’re looking to diversify investments. Again, it’s never happened to me, but that right there, it seems like it’s way too good, and totally true.

Like when you’re at a professional sporting event, and you see a camera crew walk in through the closest gate, you’re thinking, holy shit, they’re going to come over this way, somebody in this section probably won something, and they’re going to play it on the Jumbo-Tron, this week’s Home Depot Lucky Slam Dunk Winner, you and a guest just won tickets to a taping of America’s Greatest Home Bathroom Makeovers airing this Sunday.

That would be so awesome, you’ve never won anything at a game before, but just as you’re planning out how you’re going to be able to look straight at the camera while only subtly diverting your eyes now and then to soak up the image of your face on the big screen in the center of the arena, it turns out that you got carried away, that the camera crew was headed this way, but you weren’t the winner, it was the family of four sitting two rows in front of you, that these lucky spectators won a fifty dollar coupon to Outback Steakhouse, and they didn’t even try to look at the camera, they were all staring right up at the screen, smiling, waving, their sideways profiles of pure joy on display for everyone in the arena to see.

That was too good to be true, for you yes, but not for the lucky winners. Or maybe, depending on how you looked at it, I guess fifty dollars isn’t a lot of money, not for four people at Outback Steakhouse, and so it’s like, do you really feel like going out for a bloomin’ onion tonight? Not really, but the kids keep bugging about when you’re going to get to use the coupon, that stupid coupon, all right, I guess it’s Outback tonight.

What about when something’s not good enough, clearly not that great, but also true? Like when you’re at that same sporting event and an usher taps you on the shoulder, he’s like, you’re a lucky winner, go over and meet the camera crew at Gate 32. You run down, you have no idea what to expect, and there’s a little hockey net set up behind the middle row of seats, there’s the camera, some announcer is like, “OK! Let’s give a hand to our lucky contestant! All you have to do is hit these pucks into that net!”

Which should have been simple enough, but when was the last time you held a hockey stick? And this thing isn’t big enough, it’s hard to get a grip. You shoot the first puck and it’s a miss, you hear the entire arena let out a collective sigh of disappointment, are they playing this on the Jumbo-Tron? Two more shots, each one similarly unsuccessful, the audience starts to boo, they’re turning on you. “I could have hit that! You suck!” everybody’s chanting on your way back to the seat.

But the producer felt bad for you, he’s like, “You know what? I’m just going to give you the prize anyway, even though you didn’t hit the net, here you go.” And for a second, you’re spirits are buoyed a little, I could use a fifty dollar gift certificate, that would be a lot for just one, and you’re already starting to lick your lips when the guy hands you a rolled up t-shirt, it’s for the hockey team you’re here to see, but it’s a size XXL, and it’s got a big advertisement on the back, so you’ll never wear it.

I didn’t win that six hundred million dollar Powerball jackpot

Last week someone in Florida won the six hundred million dollar Powerball jackpot. I was so pissed. I was positive that this time it was going to be me. It’s like, I always feel like I’m going to win, I’ll always look at the ticket and get into these really deep thoughts inside my head, thoughts like, the numbers haven’t been chosen yet, and so any of these tickets could be potentially worth all of that money. And it just blows my mind that over the course of twenty seconds, the value of this little slip of paper could jump from nothing to everything.

And so yeah, at some level I’m always like, this is it. This is the one. And I recognize that, and I try to suppress it, to not let myself get carried away, just ripe for an almost guaranteed disappointment. But this time, like I said, I was beyond sure. I could feel it. You know how like sometime when you’re bored you’ll just sit there and check your email every five minutes or so, not really expecting anything, but just wanting something to happen? And you’ll check and hit refresh and nothing, there’s never anything, and you get like really numb to the whole process. And then another five minutes go by and you go to hit refresh again but this time something’s different. This time you have a feeling, a certainty, there’s going to be something there. And sure enough, there it is, an email.

That’s what I had this time. I had that gut certainty, like holy shit, this is real, I’m going to win the lottery. And now that I haven’t won, my whole email prediction theory has been thrown out of whack also. Maybe I don’t have special email prediction powers. Or, maybe my prediction powers only work for email, and so when I was looking down at my Powerball ticket, and I felt that feeling, like this is it, I’m going to win, maybe I should have just checked my email, there was probably something sent right that minute. And maybe it’s all about honing in on those email powers, strengthening them. Eventually I’ll get so good at it that I’ll be able to turn push notifications off on my iPhone. I’ll just know when new emails are coming in. That’s going to save so much battery life.

But that doesn’t have anything to do with the lottery. I had plans for that six hundred million dollars. First, and I told this to my family and friends, you know, the ones who were listening anyway, I told them that I’d spend a hundred million on a huge advertising campaign, billboards, TV and radio commercials, just getting it out there that I was the winner, that I’m the one who collected the giant jackpot.

I was hoping that people who have wronged me in the past, people who’ve maybe made a joke or two at my expense, or took a pen from my desk when I wasn’t looking, basically, any small sort of transgression that either escaped my knowledge or didn’t warrant me committing it to my permanent memory. They’d think that they got away with pulling a fast one on me, or getting in a good laugh about some lame prank. But then they’d look up at these billboards everywhere, it would be me, giving a thumbs up, to myself, and a text bubble coming out of my mouth, “I won six hundred million dollars, suckers!”

This could even apply to anybody just thinking negatively about me at all. But whatever, the advertising money would come and go. Obviously it would be kind of foolish to keep financing a campaign like that for an extended period of time. After I spread the word, I’d pull back somewhat, try to get a grip on living a regular life, something that wouldn’t change who I am too much.

And so I was telling this to my mom and she kind of laughed (I wasn’t kidding) and she said, “So would you quit your job?” And I was like, “What are you crazy?” and my dad interrupted, “Don’t call your mother crazy!” and I was like, “Sorry dad, figure of speech.” But no way, I wouldn’t quit my job. I would just go back to work like nothing happened. And it would be the best. I’m a waiter, and the worst part of waiting tables is that basically everybody in the whole restaurant is my boss. Every single customer can flag me down and start barking orders at me, and I have to say, yes sir, yes ma’am, right away sir, very good ma’am.

But if I had six hundred million dollars? I’d be like, listen, here’s five hundred dollars. You go into the kitchen and get me another Diet Coke. And they’d be like, you got it. So I’d be sitting there at this table with this random person’s family. I’d be smiling, laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. And then that person would come back, I’d take out my wallet and say to this person’s dinner party, OK buddy, now I’ll give you five hundred dollars to take that Diet Coke and pour it over your head. And they’d do it. I’d laugh. They’d laugh. We’d all be laughing, having a great time.

And maybe my manager would come over, “All right Rob, get up, you’re out of here.” And I’d just take out my checkbook and pay my manager to give me a raise. And then I’d make him go into the kitchen and start eating steaks until he’s sick. And everybody would keep laughing. I’d bake hundred dollar bills into the bread and watch people initially get really upset with a foreign object in their meal, but ultimately ecstatic at finding such a cleverly laid surprise.

But yeah, I didn’t win anything. I guess I’ll just have to be content at hiding pennies and dimes in the cracks of the seats, hoping that somebody might find them and go, hey pal, I just found some spare change, you want it? It’s all yours man. And I’d be like, thanks a lot, I appreciate the gesture. Would you like another Diet Coke?

I think I really want to win the lottery

Whenever the lottery gets past a hundred million dollars, I always start buying tickets. Everybody starts buying tickets. People at work start hitting you up for a dollar to pool your chances. You’ll be on line at the grocery store and you overhear the guy behind you and the lady in front of you talking about the jackpot, the big win, what you would do with the money, how much the take home amount is after taxes.

The really big jackpots, they never get hit right away. They keep growing and growing. And these multistate prizes, sometimes they get really up there, like almost a billion dollars. The chances are infinitesimal of actually winning, but still, somebody eventually wins. Somebody’s going to beat the one in a trillion odds. Why not me?

And that’s the mindset that I have right after I buy a ticket. I try to temper my expectations, but it’s really no use. My mind’s already planning out how I’m going to divide up the money, who I’m going to give to and how much. I always think about this, the dividing, and I never really figure out a good solution. Just give me the money first and then I’ll figure it out.

But seriously. I have a big family. Tons of extended family members. So does my wife. Do you have to make a list, like everybody that you know? And then how do you decide who gets how much? Immediate family would obviously get more, and then as you go outward less. But even that doesn’t sound right. It sounds almost feudal, something twisted about it. And wouldn’t that change everything, make every family get-together really weird?

Another solution would be to just divide it equally amongst just immediate family members, thus splitting up the responsibility of sharing with the extended family. But that sounds even more complicated. Depending on whose relationship with who, some people might get more, some might get forgotten. Can you imagine being part of a big family and somebody wins the jackpot, and while everybody else is getting cash bonuses, you get left out? Do you say something? Even if you do, even if you eventually get some money, that’s definitely going to do some lasting damage, straining family ties. Or what if everybody in the family starts sharing the wealth except for one person, he or she keeps it all to themselves. That wouldn’t really be fair but what are you going to do, make them share it? That defeats the whole purpose of sharing the responsibility.

And then on the other end of the spectrum you could just give the majority of it away and keep a small sum for yourself. Again, this doesn’t seem like a solution. Everybody that you know might get bitter, like gee thanks, you’d rather give your accidental fortune to a faceless group of strangers than to your own friends and family. And who are you going to trust to dole out the money, charities? How do you know your money is going to be doing any real good?

One time I saw a documentary about the lottery, and basically everybody that won a jackpot experienced a bunch of negative consequences, like losing all of their friends, or wasting all of their money on nonsense. There was only one winner, some guy from Vietnam, who really knew what to do with the money. He bought a bunch of gas stations, he started generating more money. He’d send tons of it back to Vietnam, building up his old community. He set his kids up with their own businesses, making sure everybody had the means necessary to keep making their own wealth.

But that’s really tough. Not everybody can manage a business. And that’s what you need, a good manager, somebody great with long-term goals, a leader. I’m not sure that I’d be a great leader of that wealth. But even if I won a jackpot and handed it over to a wealth manager, I feel like I’d still make enemies, people close to me who think they’d do a better job with the money. Maybe there’s no solution, for me, maybe it would ruin my life as I know it.

But I still want it. I still really want to win the jackpot. I wouldn’t have to wait tables. I could pursue any type of creative project, finance a movie, record an album, anything, everything. And so yeah, when the numbers get that high, I always throw money in. Maybe all of those problems would sort themselves out.

Today I bought a ticket and while I was feeling that feeling, like it might actually happen this time, like it’s totally going to happen this time, the logical part of my brain chimed in: you know you’re not going to win it. It’s almost guaranteed that you won’t. And that’s how it always happens. The momentary delusion slowly chips away, until it’s right before the drawing, and the majority of my consciousness is a lot more realistic to what’s going to and what’s not going to happen.

I was thinking, what about that Schrodinger’s cat experiment, the idea of the cat in the box that may or may not be killed. The gist of it says something like, until we as observers open up the box, the cat is equally alive and dead at the same time. I’m not pretending to understand at all what’s going on scientifically, but could it be the same with the lotto? Until we figure out who wins and who loses, aren’t we all in the same state of quantum flux? What if they do the drawing in a box, so nobody can observe the numbers being drawn? Would I get the same dead cat/alive cat magic? Because somebody’s going to win. Why can’t it be all of us and none of us at the same time?