Mega Millions Mayhem: Do You Really Want to Win?

I’ll admit, I’ve never been one to chase a lottery jackpot. Sure, I’m not above buying a ticket if the jackpot was high and I happened to be in a convenience store. Perhaps it’s a life of anxiety and GenX traits that make me less likely and much more cynical about a winning ticket.

Let’s explore this through the eyes of the “Worst Case Scenario” game in honor of the hit show “This Is Us.”

Step 1: You Win

Maybe you watched the drawing live. Maybe you didn’t realize you won until the next morning. Either way, you are not in your right mind right now. You never dreamed this could happen to you. You are epically unprepared for this moment. This is the best moment of your life, yet:

  • You can’t tell anyone
  • You resist all urges to go on social media and brag
  • You have to cancel your weekend plans to figure this out
  • You are riddled with anxiety, excitement, confusion, and fear
  • You fear the ticket is about to spontaneously combust and aren’t sure where to put it.

You have to find an attorney and financial advisor. If you don’t already have these people in your life, how do you pick them with the utmost confidence they are after your best interests.

Then Monday comes. Are you really just going to walk away from work? You still haven’t claimed the ticket, as your wise attorney is helping you through. Can you go to work without spilling the billion dollar beans? Do you question your character if you just walk away from a job that supported you through a pandemic?

If you don’t have a job or hate your job, how do you handle the job interview you have this week without seeming ungracious?

Step 2: Claiming the Prize

The majority of states are going to make you reveal your identity, in name and visually, not to mention that stupid photo you holding a massive check.

This is how you’ll be meme’d forever!

The 10-minutes before that stupid photo are the last normal moments you’ll have for a long time, if ever.

My biggest fear of winning the lottery is the privacy and safety issue. I live in an ungated area where anyone, including my favorite Shipt Shopper, can walk right up to my front door. Despite extra effort to hide my location due to a bad personal experience, you can still find my address online.

I pre-worry about this because:

  • Will someone take my dogs hostage, knowing I’d hand over everything, including the big stupid check, to save them?
  • Will I never get to walk around Target again by myself enjoying the magic of each aisle?
  • Can I ever have a home that is safe enough from people stalking my winnings?
  • How do I get to a safe enough place immediately after winning?
  • Will I ever be able to walk my dogs in public again without worrying if a scammer or robber is lying in wait?

Step 3: After the Win & Stupid Picture

Now I’m known to be a billionaire and I have to be suspicious of every single person. That friend from college who hasn’t so much as wished me a prompted Facebook “Happy Birthday” now suddenly is messaging me that we need to “catch up.”

Everyone who knows me will realize I’m going to be generous with my winnings. Some might say I was a spoiled child because my parents gave me what I wanted, but I also believe in spoiling others, so it’s more of a helping people get what they want. Gifts are my love language, giving and receiving, with a special fondness for giving.

Every little bit of my life is now a litmus test for if someone is really a friend or a feeder of my financial windfall. The anxious thoughts nag on, and I now haven’t slept more than three hours in two weeks, so I’m a cranky SOB.

  • Does it all go in my checking account?
  • Is my financial advisor really putting my money in the best spots?
  • I’m not smart about finances, so I can’t even argue with him, but should I get a second opinion?
  • Do I call the police on the people staging outside of my home on public sidewalks, even though as a journalist I know they have a right to be there but I feel scared?
  • I could move to the middle of nowhere Wyoming, but then will people just sit in the darkness and plot my demise when I let the dogs out?
  • Did I check the locks on the windows, doors, car, garage, and fire-proof box? Should I do it 14 more times like I did this morning?
If you know, you know.

Step 4: Mega Months After the Win

It’s 24 months later. I’m out of the news cycle for good, barring an arrest or financial scam of epic proportions. New winners have come and gone.

So why am I still being harassed by so many people? Why do I have to keep changing my phone number even though this one was guaranteed to be unlisted? Why did several of my “friends” do an interview with the newspaper? Which friend keeps selling me out in the name of publicity?

Tax season comes. I’m mind-boggled by how much money is going to the government. H&R Block’s easy form isn’t even going to be in my stratosphere ever again.

Did I donate to charity? Which one? How is that deductible? Why is my financial advisors giving me all these forms?

I’ve gained 50 pounds from the endless steak dinner with tiramisu for dessert and the full bottles of champagne I buy for myself and the whole restaurant because one person is having a birthday. A person I don’t even know. I just know I love birthdays.

I miss my neighbors. The ones who didn’t call the HOA every time a random stranger made his way into my triple-gated community, begging for money.

I hate that my name being Googled or any social media post I make stirs up the big win headlines all over again. If I post next to my two new Range Rovers, I’m a terrible person. If I start a Golden Retriever breeding farm to preserve the breed I love so dearly, I hate animal shelters, the critics say. If I donate to an animal charity, I should be more focused on people than animals. If I start my own non-profit I should’ve just helped one that already existed. My road to hell is paved with good intentions and it’s humid as hell.

Step 5: I Wish I Could Start Over

I spend days wishing I had done so many things differently. I should’ve taken the yearly payouts, not the lump sum. I should’ve gotten a different attorney. I should’ve waited six more months to claim the ticket. I should’ve created my inner circle and communicated with them before going public. I shouldn’t have purchased one of everything from Target. No, wait. That was fun.

I’ve had 56 death threats and three home break-ins. I am scared to be in my own home. I am scared to go to other’s people homes. I am scared to ever leave my dogs alone. I felt rich when I had just me and my dogs, and now I feel nothing but stress with a hefty bank account.

I can’t stop obsessing about if I am spending too much or not enough money. I want to life the high-life forever, but I don’t want to become a “Curse of the Lottery” either.

Step 6: Back to Reality

Let’s go back to now, this morning, with your non-winning ticket in your hand. Did you want to win the lottery? Or did you just like to dream? I love to dream about swimming with brown bears in a babbling brook, but I also know 118 reasons why that’s not going to work out.

Why do we feel defeated when we don’t win something we were exponentially excluded from in the first place? Why do we envy someone who’s life is about to be turned upside down? Why do we allow ourselves this indulgence, yet we’re not the type to over indulge in the first place.

Why am I being so negative about something that could do so much good? Why do I not have faith that good things would happen if I win? Why do I excuse myself from the ritual and then cast judgment on those who do?

And a final thought – why did I write this entire article using the Socratic method? Anyway, you’re welcome.

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