As it turns out, I wasn’t one of the 3 winners of the PowerBall Jackpot. I didn’t really think I would be. Typically, I don’t play the lottery. I’m not really much of a gambler. A few times a year I’ll feel lucky, and throw a couple of bucks into tickets. Bryan plays the lottery every drawing: Two PowerBall tickets and two from our state lottery, twice every week, for a total of $16 a week. When we dream about winning, we always talk about what “we” would do. Which seems unfair, given the chances that “we” would be winning off his ticket. That being said, I’m too loss-adverse to throw money into the lottery every week.
As relationships go, nothing is ever 100% equal. But, the longer we’ve been together, the more I feel that our system is unfair. You shouldn’t benefit if you aren’t willing to risk, right? And, until we’re in a situation where our finances are combined, it isn’t “our” money. So, at the start of 2016, I came up with a compromise: Every week, I’ll throw $16 cash, from my weekly spending money, into a jar. Over 52 weeks, that equals out to $832. It isn’t a ton of money, but likely more that Bryan will win in the lottery in the course of the year. What happens to that money? Well, whatever we want! Maybe we’ll use it for a vacation next Fall? Or something for the house? The point is to use the money towards something we’ll both get enjoyment out of.
It seemed like a pretty good compromise. He’d take risks, and I’d save. But then, the PowerBall started climbing, and everyone got “lottery fever”. The people at work decided we should all pool together to buy tickets. The jackpot was over $500 million; If we each contributed $5, we’d have more chances to win. Sure! Why not? $5 wasn’t going to kill my budget, and even though I knew we wouldn’t win, I also didn’t want to be the only person in the office NOT to play if we did.
We didn’t win. But neither did anyone else. The jackpot grew, and so did the fever. Another $5, plus the few dollars we’d won the first round. More chances for millions. And then it was another $5. The longer it went on, the more excited everyone got. “Third time’s the charm!” “I can feel it, we’re winners!” One guy even got a fortune in his cookie about an investment paying off exponentially.
I’ve known a lot of people who swear they just know they’ll win the lottery one day. I’ve never felt that way. It’s nice to dream about having lots of money, but I don’t see that as something that will happen to me. But the bigger the jackpot grew, and the more excited people became, the more the panic started to set in.
I don’t want to win a billion dollars!
Sure, the idea of never having to work, or worry about money again, is extremely alluring. But the longer I thought, the more panicked I became. I thought about where I grew up, the type of people I knew, my family, acquaintances, Bryan’s family. Unimaginable wealth would ruin so many relationships for us. I thought about Bryan, and his enjoyment of gambling. The chance of winning hundreds loses its allure when you have millions. Would that push him to want to risk more? Would we become the statistical winners who win big, only to lose it all? Would the money ruin our relationship with each other? Would I become fat(ter) and lazy? Would drinking overtake his life?
It’s great to think of all the things you could do with that kind of money. All the people you could help. But most people only think about the positives of having money. The more hyped the people around me became, the more I thought of Bryan and I as flawed people. We aren’t bad people. But we’re also far from perfect. What choices would we make if money was no object?
In the end, I didn’t need to worry. We weren’t winners. I’m 99% positive we’ll never win the jackpot. And I’m more than fine with that. I like our life the way it is. Sure, things could always be better. And maybe $1-2 million would be fabulous. Enough to live comfortably for the rest of our lives, but not enough to feel we could go wild. And who knows, maybe we could have beat the statistics? Maybe we could be multi-millionaires, and still be grounded?
In the end, I’d rather not find out.
- Cindy W.