Wednesday, January 5

What would you do with millions?

I woke up this morning to learn I had not won the $350M Mega Million jackpot.  Of course, I didn't buy a ticket and, as the commercial says, "You've got to be in it to win it."

But I could not help but think, for a few minutes anyway, what I might have done with $350 million or however much it will be after Uncle Sam takes his slice.  An article I skimmed suggested that people seem to have generally philanthropic goals for the big win.  Sure, paying off bills is a no-brainer.  Buying a new house or buying a house or car or such for family members is another lottery-winner plan.

My list tends to be similar: pay off bills, buy a new house, buy a new car, buy some necessities and then bonus stuff for family and maybe a few friends (who are really friends, not those "long-lost" friends who undoubtedly come crawling out of the woodwork) though I'd want to buy the friends' things anonymously.  And then philanthropic and charitable gifts.  I have a list of those, too: organizations to which I'd like to give vast amounts of money and foundations I'd want to support.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have been in the news because of their movement, The Giving Pledge.  They are encouraging the wealthiest Americans to donate their money to charity.  The movement started quietly, and I applaud the participants for not making a big deal of this, for not trying to garner headlines for their generosity.  It is that spirit I've always thought I'd give my lottery gifts anonymously and without strings.

Years and years ago I talked with someone who worked for a university and was trying to decide what to do with the promise of sizable corporate "gift" that came with substantial corporate strings.  The university opted not to take the gift because it didn't want to be forced to take particular actions that might not have been in the best interests of the university and its students, in the short or long term. 

That's one of the reasons I'd want to give my lottery gifts anonymously and without strings as I'd want the organizations to have the freedom to meet needs I probably wouldn't even know about.

After all, what would I have done to win the lottery?  I would have walked into a store or gas station and plunked down a few bucks for a ticket.  It's not as though I would have exerted much energy to win that money.  So getting all uppity about how it should be spent?  I don't think so.

But not just yet.  Maybe next time there's a big ol' pile of money in the lottery.  Maybe.  If I remember to buy a ticket.

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