If I were a rich man …

1305805212-13 (2)Someone may have won more than $550 million dollars when the winning numbers popped up in tonight’s Powerball lottery jackpot drawing.

I have absolutely no clue who that person will be, but I know one thing – I’m just happy it isn’t going to be me.

Robert-Harris-Tonya-HarrisTake a good look at the two people in the photo above. This is Robert Harris and his wife, Tonya, in Atlanta, Georgia. Notice anything unusual in this photograph? Like that giant freakin’ pile of money there? It’s hard to miss. It’s taller than them. It even blocks out the poor slob in the back there, dressed as a yellow ping pong ball.

That pile-o-cash belongs to Robert and Tonya. They were the winners of  a $275 million Mega Millions jackpot drawing in 2008.

Notice anything else unusual up there?

Right – these two people are not laughing. They’re not even smiling. From the look on Tonya’s face, she’s not really sure if the dough is clean, for heaven’s sake. That’s $275 MILLION dollars, people! Why aren’t you throwing it up in the air, rolling around in it! Why do you look like you’re more concerned about how the heck all that moolah is going to fit in your beat-up 1997 Toyota Camry double-parked outside?

Why? Because they know that money won’t buy them happiness. Not even close. And they’re not the only suddenly rich, unhappy people in the world. Here’s some lowlights from a compilation of lottery winners-turned-losers posted today in an article on the Newsmax website (www.newsmax.com).

Money didn’t buy happiness for West Virginia’s Jack Whittaker. He won $315 million playing Powerball in 2002. He was robbed of $545,000 in cash at a strip club (man had to have BIG pockets to hold that many dollar bills), and his wealth may have had something to do with the deaths of his granddaughter and daughter. Add to that, even with all that money in the bank, the man still couldn’t balance his checkbook. An Atlantic City casino sued him for bouncing $1.5 million worth of checks to cover his gambling losses.

Must have been in-between paychecks. Happens to the best of us and evidently the richest of us too.

Does that sound like happiness to you?

Or take the riches-to-rags tale of William “Bud” Post III of Pennsylvania. In 1998 he won $16.2 million. What did it get him? A contract put out on him and his sixth wife – the hit man was hired by his brother. The money he lent to other relatives went into businesses that tanked. He was thrown in jail once for shooting over the head of a bill collector. It wasn’t a good sign – he died bankrupt in 2006.

Does that sound like happiness to you?

In 2006 Abraham Shakespeare won a $31 million jackpot in Florida. He vanished without a trace in 2009.  His body was found under a concrete slab in 2010.

That jackpot amount may even be cursed – Billie Bob Harrell Jr. won the lottery in 1996, also for $31 million. But feeling that people were using him for his money put him into a depression – and in less than two years after hitting it big, he killed himself.

Does that sound like happiness to you?

I didn’t think so. Which is why I didn’t buy even one Powerball ticket today. No way all that money’s going to get me.

But if you bought one or two tickets, let’s say you beat the 176 million-to-one odds. Tomorrow morning you check them against the winning numbers and – whaddaya know – you have the big winner ticket, right there in your hot, little hand.

First thing to remember … don’t panic. There is a way out. Write me a comment and let me know. Then calmly take the ticket, put it in an envelope and send it to the address I give you. Once it’s in the nearest mailbox – breathe easy.  You can rest assured you won’t ever have to worry about your life being ruined by such an unlucky event befalling you.

As for me, I’ll make sure it’s properly disposed of. Hey, no need to thank me. My reward is your happiness.

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