a Powerball SUIT column by Chris Jungle
About a mile and a half from my house, there's a Circle K at the corner of San Pedro and Gibson. It looks like every Circle K. It sells snacks, cokes and lottery tickets like most convenient stores. But last Wednesday, something happened. Out of the thousands of tickets sold in that store and millions around the country, its computer randomly spit out a line of six numbers that would allow 14 Sandia Lab security guards to win the multi-state Powerball jackpot--the $131 million jackpot.
13 security guards and one lieutenant each put in ten bucks to buy 140 lottery tickets, and now they are trying to figure out what to do with their multi-millions. When I first heard that some folks from Sandia Labs won the lottery, my heart sank. The rich getting richer, I thought. I envisioned scientists running off to the northern New Mexico to start up their own laboratory to do all those experiments the government refused to authorize. Fortunately, the lottery went to the people who most deserve to win by sheer luck, the working class.
Every day, people collectively spend millions trying to win more money then they will ever earn. This legalized gambling has done some good for communities. Kids have gotten scholarships for college, schools have gotten repairs and additions they desperately needed, and everyone can pretend they have the winning ticket until the official numbers come out. Gambling is a vice and probably a sin, but I've got enough of my own vices to let this one slide without too much chastising. If people want to blow their money on chances against all odds, I say go to it and good luck.
I used to play the lottery. Right after college, I moved to Florida to help start an Internet radio station. When that business venture went belly up in the planning stages and I found myself in a state and a State I didn't enjoy, one of the few joys I had were dollar movie theaters and the nights before the lottery numbers came out. I'd buy five tickets a week (mainly because I didn't have a lot of money and was unemployed) and spend the nights envisioning what I'd do with multi-millions. They were some pretty good dreams, but that's all they were. Since I was staying up until four or five in the morning, I'd wait until the paper came and check my numbers. I never matched and slumped my way to bed. Never even got my dollar back. Like everything else, the numbers were all wrong. I still buy the "scratch-and-sniff" lottery tickets on a lark, occasionally winning a buck or two, but as far as the lottery, I've decided to try fulfilling my dreams in a more active fashion.
Even though the winning ticket was purchased at a close proximity to me, I don't feel like I "just missed." There's a 7-11 closer to me, and I would have bought any lottery tickets from there instead. It does prove once again that I live in a magical little spot in the world, and I'm glad some folks from New Mexico finally won the big one. Until now, no one had ever won the Powerball in my state, and the lottery has been legal here for almost five years. Now, South Dakota is the only Powerball state never to win the big jackpot. Suckers.
What would I have done if I had won a few million? Well, let's see--make a movie, start a record label, buy a house, pick up the tab for every meal, make a few donations to local organizations I like, spread the wealth around a little, and keep a couple million in reserve to live off the interest for the rest of my life. You know, the American Dream and all that.
But alas, I'm not part of the self-dubbed "New Mexico's First," and I doubt I'll be part of New Mexico's second or third. I have learned how to live life on a grand a month, and I still have a good time in this crazy world. No matter how many lottery tickets people buy, it shouldn't be the best thing they have going for them. Nevertheless, my hat's off to the security guards. I can't think of anyone who deserves blind luck any more than them.
As for the rest of us, we'll just have to find some other way to make our dreams come true. I wonder if I should have listened to that talking cricket before I stepped on him.