Friday, February 19, 2016

COLUMN: Powerball

Well, I'm sure it's happened by now.

By the time you read this, somebody out there will be a newfound billionaire-and-a-half. Hint: It's not you.

I'm still living the dream, because I'm writing this from the past. As I type, it's currently 6 p.m. on Wednesday night, and the Powerball numbers haven't been drawn yet. There's never a guarantee in life, but I'm pretty sure I've got this locked down.

I know what you're thinking. You can't possibly win, Shane. The unbelievably remote odds are 1 in 292,000,000. But here's the thing: I bought FIVE tickets. I'm pretty sure that means I'm a shoe-in, right? I'm no fortune-teller, but I can tell you that I'd like a fortune.

All week long, they've been playing up horror stories in the media about lottery winners whose payday ruined their lives. There's the guy who blew all his money on drugs. The girl who gambled all her winnings away and now lives in a trailer out in the woods. The co-workers whose winning lottery pool ended up in litigation. Winning the lottery can create a world of problems. I, for one, would like to take my chances in that world.

I think I'm together enough emotionally to handle the cumbersome burden of becoming an instant billionaire. And if it turns out that I'm NOT, I could probably hire someone to fix me, because I'd be a freaking BILLIONAIRE. And hey, if worse came to worse and I ended up broke in a trailer in the woods, I'd at least have some killer stories to share with my new woodland friends.

Many people I know have turned into Powerball poo-heads. You've probably got a few of them in your life, too. The ones who look at you with disdain when you dream about winning. The ones who steadfastly refuse to participate in the pool at work. The ones who post on Facebook about how you've got better odds to be struck by lightning. To these no-fun-niks, I place my tongue squarely between my lips and salute you people with the raspberry you deserve.

I'm as much of a realist as the next guy. I don't remotely expect to win the lottery. But when my co-workers come around collecting money for a pool, I duly chip in -- only because the idea of everyone I work with EXCEPT me winning a billion dollars is perhaps the worst thing I could possibly imagine.

But I don't play to win. Instead, I play to DREAM of winning, and if the price of that daydream is a $2 ticket, so be it. And since the entirety of North America seems to be doing a really lousy job of late at picking winning numbers, I've now had two solid weeks of daydreaming under my belt -- and this guy's got plans.

Let's say that I win the whole shebang. $1.5 billion, minus lump sum penalty and federal and state taxes, which becomes... Well, okay, I'm lousy with math. But whatever it is, it's still a LOT of money. More money than I ever deserve to have, so let's spend it.

First thing's first: Pay off the house, pay off the car, and make sure my family, friends, cats, and favorite charities are set. What's next? Buy a mansion? Nah. My small house already feels too big sometimes. I don't need an echoey ghost-filled palace. The longer I live, the more I realize what I need to be happy: A roof over my head, a home to call my own, and a person I can pay to come clean that home since I'm clearly incapable of doing it myself. Then stock every room with a television big enough to frighten the elderly and a sound system capable of challenging the structural integrity of the house. THEN we can start being creative.

The first thing I would do is place a call to the iWireless Center, rent that puppy out for a week, and host Shane-a-palooza. I'll bring in all my favorite bands and have the most wicked week-long concert I can possibly muster. If you don't like the lineup, you don't have to come. Morrissey has long said no amount of money would cause him to ever reform The Smiths. Let's put that to the test. Same goes for Pink Floyd, Simon & Garfunkel, and a hundred indie bands you've never heard of but TRUST ME are amazing.

Now, I'd also have to hire a PR firm to handle my public image, since a random billionaire throwing away a fortune to hold a week-long concert for his own pleasure MIGHT be construed as a touch shallow and self-serving. Instead, I'll need a team to spin my image into that of a mysterious, eccentric, and misunderstood benefactor with a heart of gold. You know, the kind of guy Leonardo Dicaprio would either want to hang out with or portray in a movie.

This kind of notoriety would inevitably get me invited to A-list Hollywood events, which I'd skip in order to cultivate the air of mystery that constantly surrounds me. This would all work towards my final goal, which is, of course, to woo the affections of actress Katie Holmes, who IS my soulmate but for some reason never phones. I'm not QUITE sure how I'm going to pull this part of the plan off, but I figure being an eccentric billionaire can't hurt. It worked for that Christian Grey guy, and he's 50 shades crazier than me.

Meanwhile, the real coup de grace will be going on behind the scenes. All the while that I'm throwing concerts and wooing Katie Holmes, my friends and I will be hard at work burying a substantial amount of my winnings. I'm talking at least ten million, in a treasure chest, buried in the ground at a secret location. Upon my death, the first clue to its location would be revealed to the public.

What better hobby could there be for me & my nerd friends than to create the world's craziest treasure hunt? We're talking Indiana Jones meets National Treasure. I want complex clues, indescipherable cryptograms, coded messages, Temples of Doom, you name it. I want the kind of infamy where people in chat rooms twenty years from now will banging their heads against the wall while analyzing the lyrics of my favorite songs to look for hidden meanings.

In other words, I don't want much. Only the greatest concert ever staged, the most beautiful girl in the world, and global infamy after my death. That's not asking for too much, is it? The first step is to... to... crud.

I took too long writing this thing. They just announced the numbers and I didn't win diddly. Sigh. Fine, back to my life as a thriving hundredaire. Whoever DOES win, hit me up. I've got some good ideas. But you can't have Katie.

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