Last week some lucky son of a bitch won $275 million dollars in a multi-state lottery
It's not just right, it's a thing of beauty. Where else can you slap down four quarters, while picking up your weekly 30 pack of Schlitz and walk away with $100 million dollars. That is what this 47-year-old iron worker and his wife will get after taxes by opting to take the one time pay out, although I'm sure there is a withholding calculator that can give a more precise measurement. Yes, I said after taxes, as in $100 million dollars cash, as in, I'm going to put this money in a suitcase, walk across the country handing $100 bills to everyone I meet on the way and still have enough to buy Eugene, Oregon when I get there.
The best thing about this magical event is the people who won, the Harris family. They're from Georgia, not some berg like Atlanta or Athens, no they're from a rural town of 600 called Portal; when you look up Podunk in a Thesaurus, it actually gives, "Portal, Georgia" as the first option. Oh, but it gets better, these good folks currently reside in a trailer, a mobile home. A mobile home in Portal freaking Georgia, if you turned this in as fiction in a creative writing class, your professor would say you were over reaching. They bought the ticket at a store named "Clyde's Market"…my God, this tale is like a gift from the heavens.
Now lest ye think I'm making fun of these people, think again. I happened to like trailers. My grandfather lived in a trailer in rural Tennessee for a good part of his life, and during summer visits I developed an appreciation for their thin-walled, poorly-paneled, window-cranking simplicity. It was never properly explained to me why his particular trailer was placed in front of his recently abandon, but never demolished home, but that fact shouldn't distract from the brilliance and practicality of the mobile home as a dwelling. The point being, these Harrises are my people.
It is for that reason and many others that I'm ecstatic that the hand of fate decided to pluck these souls from obscurity and hand them $100 million dollars. In fact, I'm more excited for them, than I would be for myself. I actually had tickets in this drawing, so I could have won, but I wouldn't make for an interesting lottery winner. First of all, I wouldn't claim the prize a mere 48 hours after the drawing. The Harrises were in Atlanta picking up their over-sized check first thing Monday morning. Now that's how you handle winning the lottery, no tax attorneys, no changing addresses or phone numbers, just drive the ol' pick up into Hotlanta and pick up the damn money, it's fantastic.
I also wouldn't go on the Today show shortly after winning, but that's where the beauty of the Harrises comes shining through; they're so happy, they can't help but share their good fortune with the rest of the world. Who among us would be so unselfish? I wouldn't even want to do the legally binding press conference for the lottery people, and when forced, I'd make smart-alecky comments about buying top hats and monocles, no one wants to see that. We want to see needy lottery winners appreciatively accepting the money and wondering aloud as to what their fist purchase might be. For the wife, Tonya, this first purchase will be a Mercedes. Tonya, even with a conservative investment strategy you could purchase a high-end Mercedes every week for the rest of your life, without ever touching the principle.
I also appreciate the Harris honesty, the husband Robert called his boss on Saturday, just hours after discovering the winning ticket and promptly quit his job, who does this? Almost every other lottery winner I've seen at least tries to keep up the pretense that he or she is "probably going to keep working". Robert didn't even double check the numbers with lottery officials before putting the hammer down…hell yes, Robert, that's how you handle things, 100% balls to the wall, you set the gold standard for all future lottery winners, my friend.
One of the things I like best about this story is how this random act of chance will affect future Harris generations. This isn't a small amount of money, this could easily be parlayed into a billion in a generation or two. I picture Tonya and Robert's great, great grandson living a life of charity functions and gallery openings on the upper west side of Manhattan and having no real understanding of how he came to this station in life. What do you tell people? "Yes, my great, great grandfather made a killing in the lottery business." One hundred years from now, the Harrises could control a worldwide empire, all because Robert dropped sawbuck at Clyde's Pick and Pay back in 2008, it's mind boggling.
I find the story inspirational. I find the lottery inspirational. What other product offers so much for so little? Sure, the odds of winning are astronomical, statistically you're throwing your money right out the window, but realistically, one dollar buys you hope. Not real hope, like a cure for cancer, but stupid hope. For one dollar you get a few days of having your thoughts dwell on what in the hell you would do that much money. It's not unlike my adolescent longings for head cheerleaders and prom queens, statistically next to impossible, outlandish in the extreme but mighty fun to think about. Anyway you slice it, that's a dollar well spent, unless you're the person that actually wins, then you're going to be spending a lot of time trying to keep the prom queen happy.