While the country was having lottery fever last week, I was completely clueless about the $70 million Lotto Max jackpot.
Remember, I wrote a book about being a cheapskate and not throwing away money. So, I can count on one hand the number of times in a year that I buy a lottery ticket, play a slot machine or gamble in any way.
While I was on the phone with a colleague, she noted that she was in line to buy a lottery ticket last Friday. Apparently it’s something she and her husband do on a weekly basis — more than once per week if there are jackpots.
It led to a discussion about what we’d do if we ever won the lottery. She had it all mapped out, I had never given it much thought.
Sure, you think about what you would do if you had a million bucks. It’s the usual stuff: buy a big house, travel, get some expensive toys (car, boat, etc.), and then the obligatory charitable causes and family members who suddenly remember you exist — some of whom you’ve never met but call themselves “family.”
The list my colleague had mapped out including immediately changing her phone number. The idea shocked me but then I realized the phone probably does ring off the hook once your name is out there — whether you’re unlisted or not. Next, they would go to Mexico for a month and have a discussion about what to do with all of the money. Then, they’d meet with financial planners and lawyers and get down to business.
When the tables were turned, she asked me who I’d give to and what would be the criteria for such handouts. Having never given it much thought it took me a while to draw my line of support.
Ultimately I said I would measure each person’s support of me over the years. When I started out as an entrepreneur, did they buy my books? Did they come to a book signing? Did they listen to my radio shows? Did they take an interest in my red carpet adventures? Bottom line: Did they give a crap about my life?
Initially, I thought that would be harsh and that people would resent me. But then I remembered why they’re suddenly paying attention to me: I’m a millionaire. I don’t think I’d feel guilty about saying no to people.
I’m sure people will plead their case (hell, it happens now because companies send me free stuff and people want me to give it to them) but I’m good at saying no.
And once I’ve drawn that line in the sand and ask them the simple question, “Have you ever bought one of my books?” maybe it’ll make them realize they shouldn’t have the expectation that I’d hand over a huge sum of money if they couldn’t support me with $15.
I didn’t even play the lottery, let alone win it, and it made me question my relationships with people. I can’t imagine what it’s like to really win and deal with all that drama.