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.

Advertisements

You lose some, you lose some

Every now and then I get this irresistible urge, call it a yearning even, to be so filthy rich that even China comes to me, begging to borrow money.

Hey, I know it’s insane. And yeah, I also realize that no one else has such looney thoughts. But that’s just the kind of wild and crazy guy I am.

Actually, it’s not so much that I have an urge as it is that I get a message. I’ll be walking along, say in the canned vegetables/condiments aisle at the supermarket, and suddenly I’m awash in a bright light, from above.

I’m stunned. I realize it’s either a sign from God, or one of the florescent bulbs in the ceiling lights above me is about to flame out.

The Lord works in mysterious places.

It’s often at that moment that I hear … The Voice … saying,

Doth Get Thyself Rich!, or

Spill in Aisle 7!

It’s God … or the grocery manager on the P.A. Either way, it’s a message. And I must heed it. So I either look to see if there’s a puddle of yellow mustard ahead of me, or head straight to the customer service desk and buy a lottery ticket.

I’m not a habitual lottery ticket buyer. I know the odds are about a bizzillion to one that I’ll even win my dollar back. But while the lottery is a fool’s game at retirement planning, at that moment it’s one for everyone but … me.

After all, if the message really is from “Above,” God must be my bookie.

So I plunk my dollar down (only one, I’m not that religious) and ask for a “quick pick.” See, God doesn’t ever tell me the numbers to play so I figure He’s picking them for me, through the machine. Call it divine randomization.

Or the Immaculate Wager.

I can hear your head shaking from side to side. You don’t believe this can happen, do you? Ahem – a case in point …

This man reportedly won a multi-million dollar lottery jackpot. And look, it has not only made him rich … but evidently handsome. Now, tell me God had nothing to do with this. I think not.

In the words of your kindly Sunday School teacher from decades back – yes child, miracles do happen. Every day. And not just in churches. But in state lottery headquarters too.

Now, since I periodically receive celestial gambling encouragement, you may be muttering, “OK smart guy, so if He’s telling you it’s time to play, why haven’t you won it big yet?”

Oh, ye of little faith. Sigh.

It’s at times like this when I can hear these sonorous words of inspiration, put forth by the caller at the local church’s weekly Bingo game, held every Friday night down in the basement below the sanctuary of Our Lady of Perpetual Motion Church:

You can’t win, if you don’t pray.

There she is ….

Mere words cannot describe …

See that woman over there? Yeah, I’ll give you that. It is kind of hard to miss her, for sure.

Her name is Eleanor Buenofortunatto. She was bagging my groceries at the Super Stop & Shop supermarket this afternoon. Store’s so big its got two supers in its name. I’ve seen her there a couple times. Bagged my stuff up a few times before today. Seems nice. Pretty conscientious, looks like she takes her job seriously too. Not once has she packed the canned vegetables or kitty litter in the same bag and on top of my bread and eggs and occasional tub of whipped “You’ll-Believe-It’s-Not-Butter-As-Soon-As-You-Open-This-Tub-And-Taste-It!”.

I appreciate the little things in life, like good customer service. So, there I was today, standing in the checkout line, watching a steady stream of my favorite breakfast-lunch-dinner cereals work their way through the scanner and chug past me on the grocery conveyor belt. There goes my Cocoa Pebbles, followed by the Cocoa Krispies, and that was my Choco-Cap’n Crunch, Chocolate Cheerios, Milk-choc-delight Chex (gluten-free), Chocolate-covered Raisins Bran. And there’s Eleanor slinging and flinging, bagging and packing and keeping up up with my bright-colored cardboard-wrapped cocoa-tide, my now-packed-with-12-essential-daily-vitamins, lightly-sweetened cavalcade.

She’s got to be a pro, I figured. Impressive. But today, there something different about Eleanor, at least to me. Call it a feeling, call it a hunch, whatever it is, sometimes I pick up these vibes from some people. Don’t know why or how, but it’s a definite intuitive talent. Had it ever since I was a tiny child, squirted out of my mother’s soapy hands while she bathed me in the sink and I fell to the floor.

My mom noticed it, even then. To this day she says I was never the same after that. That’s probably called a mother’s intuition.

Anyway, I received a mental message emanating from Eleanor and I couldn’t let it pass.

“Eleanor, have you got a computer?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you go on the Internet a lot?”

“Yeah.”

“Ever read something called a blog?”

“Yeah.”

“I got a blog.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. And the other day I blogged that I was going to give a solid-gold Mercedes-Benz to the 500th viewer of it. And I just have a funny feeling it was you. Am I right?”

“Yeah!”

Damn, I’m good.

It was at that moment, that very moment … something came over Eleanor. You might notice it in the photograph I took of her up above. A thing of beauty. Warmed my heart, I tell you. Never seen such an outward display of delight in a person.

Not then, not now. I mean literally, now. I just drove by the market and she’s still there, looking just as she was when I left there four hours ago. Manager’s moved her out into the parking lot, stood her by the road with a sign taped to her. Says “C’mon in, you won’t beeelieve our low, low prices!!”

I can see why Bill Gates decided to give away most of his billions. This philanthropy stuff does wonders for the soul.