What would you do with 500 million dollars?

That’s roughly what you would get if you were the sole winner of this weeks 1.3 billion dollar mega million jackpot. Five hundred million dollars is an unfathomable amount of money.

Statistically speaking, 500 million dollars could ruin your life. Stupidity, greed, lack of financial savvy, and bad luck have all led to past winners ending up jail, poorer than they were before they won, deportation, and even death.[1]

I tell myself that Erik and I won it wouldn’t be like that. We are incredibly blessed. Besides financial strains and mental health issues, we have very few problems. Winning the lottery would leave us with only my mental health challenges, right?

But winning a multi-million dollar jackpot can come with its own slew of problems, including, but not limited to, robbery, lawsuits, unfamiliar family members appearing, paparazzi and press, and drama of all shapes and sizes.[2] It’s hard to become a millionaire overnight and stay out of the limelight.

This wouldn’t happen to us though. Of course not. The first thing we would do is call a lawyer and a financial adviser. We bought our ticket anonymously with cash, so we would have at least a little while to figure it out before we were barraged with press. We would come up with a strategy for divvying out some of the winnings to our family members and we would set up trust funds for the minors in the family. We would pay off all of our debt – very likely quit our jobs. Most importantly, we would split the remaining money three ways, two smaller amounts that would go in separate accounts – one for Erik and one for me, and a third larger amount that would go into our shared account. (To avoid marital disputes over how many Tesla’s or warehouses of yarn we might buy.)

Playing the lottery is generally described as a fool’s errand, a regressive tax on those that can least afford it. But for us, it is an opportunity to dream about what life would be like if we could do only the things we love. This, I think, is not a bad way to spend a couple of dollars.

[1] http://www.cracked.com/article_20553_5-real-people-whose-lives-were-ruined-by-winning-lottery.html

[2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertpagliarini/2013/09/27/why-lottery-winners-crash-after-a-big-win/

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