The Next Delusion

Seeing Reality and Looking the Other Way

Throwdown Thursday: The Lottery

No, not Shirley Jackson’s lottery. No townspeople will be harmed in today’s post. We’re talking Powerball, MegaMillions, and their ilk. Any lottery with a really big life-changing jackpot. Momus and I are not big lottery players. We buy maybe 3 tickets a year, generally for our birthdays or if the jackpot has gotten historically, crazy huge. But here’s the thing: Momus claims that he would not want to win the lottery. You read that right.  The man is clearly clinically insane.  I will let him present his addled position.

Who doesn't want to win the lottery?!

Who doesn’t want to win the lottery?!

Momus: I would like to start off by saying, I expect zero support on this issue.

It’s not that I would not like the money to feel a bit more comfortable. But so much money that I would never have to worry about making ends meet again just seems the recipe for tedium and ruin. Having to get by in life through your own efforts provides some motivation and meaning. Throw 50 million dollars at me, yeah, I could have a lot of fun and support the substance abuse of slackers for generations to come (my genes already bend that way), but where is the challenge in that?

Cassandra: But how can you give up the dream of being able to quit your job and build a dream house and travel the world? Do you really want to work your current job until you’re 80 years old? Wouldn’t you prefer to do something more fun and interesting with your time? You could stop worrying about college and retirement and whether you’re going to be able to make ends meet when you’re old. Who doesn’t want that?

Momus: Yeah, I’d like a new career, and I’d love opportunities that could take me in that direction. But to be just given a blank check and told “Hey, do whatever you want” seems to cheapen the whole experience of life. The struggles we go through and compromises we make are the things that define us. With $50M I know what would start to define me: sloth and unbridled hedonism. It wouldn’t be pretty.

Cassandra: I’ll take the money thank you very much. I would love to have a life of sloth and hedonism. And I think you’re fooling yourself if you say that you would not.  Be honest now wouldn’t a little more fun be fun?

Momus: Of course it would, but we have a lot of fun now too, don’t we?  How much fun becomes too much fun and not enough grounding? And I know you wouldn’t like a life of sloth. You’d be bored in seconds, although you would definitely find something to worry about. OK, hedonism, yeah we’d go all Lindsay Lohan on the hedonism part.  And therein lies the problem/danger.

Certainly, there is the option to give all or most of it away to meaningful causes, but that’s a cheat in this scenario. It might as well be the diabetic penguins (my younger daughter’s favorite fictional charity) that hit the winning ticket.

Cassandra: I don’t think that’s a cheat at all! If I won the lottery, I would definitely create a charity. Administering it and doing good for diabetic penguins everywhere would give my life meaning and be a driver of my future activities. Well, that and visiting every country in the world and tasting every Shiraz, Rhone, and Tempranillo I could find. Oh, and watching Netflix in my personal home theater with a 10 foot screen and giant cushy seats.

Excuse me, I gotta go buy a lottery ticket.

Momus:  Thank you for making my point for me.  By the time you woke from your red wine and exotic opium haze (please steer clear of Bill Cosby when you are in that state), you’ll be 85 years old and wondering why you just re-watched Facts of Life in its entirety without breaking for a meal or to change your Depends. If you had the energy at that point, you’d be angrily stomping penguins to death in your existential fury.

Too much wealth is just too dangerous (see 79.2% of rich, famous people).

Cassandra: But I’d be one of the smart wealthy people. I promise I would. And not at all famous.

Momus: Well, what would really happen will likely remain a mystery. By the way, I’m 57.7% sure I’m completely full of shit about this.


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21 thoughts on “Throwdown Thursday: The Lottery

  • Kristine says:

    Diabetic penguins… Sign me up!
    Momus is full of shit. He’d make the money work for him. Happy wife, happy life. Buy that ticket!!
    Kristine recently posted…Join my New Kick Starter Campaign: Breathalyzer Microphones!My Profile

    • Momus says:

      Yeah, I must be full of shit. It makes no sense other than a fear of the unbridled hedonism I’d enter with unlimited resources. Cassandra would probably infuse enough frontal lobe to keep me alive though.

  • kdcol says:

    Yeah, seems like there is some lottery curse. You here the stories of how winners are just miserable. But I’ve always said I’d still be willing to give it (winning the lottery) a try. Then I realize it may help if I actually bought a ticket. But then again, the odds of me winning the lottery with a ticket or without a ticket are pretty much the same.
    kdcol recently posted…My first poll entry everMy Profile

    • Cassandra says:

      Excellent point. I usually think of it as spending a dollar to buy the right to fantasize for a week (or however long) about what I would like my life to be.

  • Linda Roy says:

    A friend of mine from as far back as grade school won the Lotto with the kicker. I don’t know much about the lottery, so I kind of understand what that means. Anyway, he’d made a pact with his mother that if one of them won, they’d split the winnings. He won $15 million and split it with his mom. She called a girl he liked in school who had turned him down for a date and said “Do you remember my son asked you out and you wouldn’t go out with him? Well…” Best story ever. 😉
    Linda Roy recently posted…Give Us This Day Our Daily DreadMy Profile

    • Cassandra says:

      AWESOME story. My mom always gave us lottery tickets in our Christmas stockings with the requirement that if anyone won they had to share with her. No winners yet!

  • Margot says:

    I wouldn’t want to win the lottery, but not for the same reasons as Momus. Like kdcol said, there seems to be some sort of lottery curse. I think that people who win a really big pot actually often go into hiding, because they are approached endlessly with people soliciting donations. Apparently you need to hire a tax lawyer and financial advisors ASAP to figure out how much you’ll owe in taxes, where to put the money, what charities to donate to, etc. It might be pretty awesome once that’s over with, but it sounds hella stressful to me. For example, I’d probably keep enough money to live comfortably, to travel, and to make sure my kids get as much education as they want. The rest I would give to charity. Not sure my husband feels the same way though, and I know my kids would be pissed off b/c I wouldn’t buy them brand new fancy cars. And then other friends and family might get upset as well. Sorry to go all serious on you–I know this is a post meant to be fun and to dream about being wealthy! It’s just something I’ve thought about a lot. Plus, I know I’ve got a decent inheritance coming in the not too distant future. 😉

  • I do get Momus’s point in many ways – I’ve always thought that you do appreciate things more if you’ve had to work for them. Like say if there’s something you really want to buy that you can’t quite afford, and you save up for it, and finally you can get it, there’s great satisfaction in that, whereas if you could just get it whenever you wanted, well, it’s maybe not as rewarding you know? So I know what Momus is saying, but on balance, I’ll take the money 🙂
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  • I’m sorry, Momus, but I feel like I ALWAYS end up taking Cassandra’s side on things. All I can think about is retirement and a massive villa in Spain.
    Sarah (est. 1975) recently posted…yup: an earwig, a shopping cart, and one million poop jarsMy Profile

    • Momus says:

      That’s OK, my 14-year-old daughter recently diagnosed me as someone who revels in having the minority viewpoint (yeah, glass houses to the girl who’s favorite current pop act is Billy Joel). But maybe little Anna Freud is onto something.

      Enjoy your Rioja addiction.

      • I must also revel in having that view point because I wouldn’t want all that money either. If someone just wanted to take care of my current debt and allow me to buy some Christmas presents, I’d be good for the rest of my life. I like working and knowing that I worked hard for what I’ve earned. My hubby is the lottery fantasy king. I think I’ve physically purchased 2 tickets in my entire 16 years over the age of 18.
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        • Momus says:

          Good for you! I actually wish my work ethic was a tad better, but I largely have worked to get what I have in my life, and likely could have had more if I chose to work harder. But there is a connection and it gives me some sense of purpose when some of my jobs seem to lack much intrinsic value.

  • ManicMom says:

    I’m with Momus on this one. If I were ever to win the lottery it would ruin me. I know this. The second I have a little bit of extra anything, I blow it. I’m sure Cassandra would manage things well, but I’m surrounded by people who make bad decisions just like I do. Within moments of taking home that ginormous check, Crazy Aunt Betty would hate us for not putting her cat through college, my kids would never close another door in this house (yes, in fact we CAN afford to heat the entire neighborhood!), and my husband would have blown the whole wad on an NFL team.
    ManicMom recently posted…Math doesn’t get me at allMy Profile

    • Momus says:

      Yeah, in our continued off-blog debate about this, Cassandra even admits that we would gain about 100 pounds each eating out nearly every night (which of course would be accompanied by a nice bottle of wine). This would get ugly fast, without even getting into our poker jones.

  • qwertygirl says:

    Margot is right–if you win you don’t collect the winnings until you’ve hired a lawyer and an accountant. The reason lottery winners seem cursed is because they tend to be not terribly bright, I’m afraid. (Which means, Cassandra, that you and I are probably too smart to win the lottery. Probably Momus is too 🙂 ). You figure out how much you have to give away, then you put the rest in a trust that pays out to you. The whole thing is probably a hassle, but if you’ve got that much money, you can quit your job and deal with it. However, I do know that if we were to win a huge jackpot, it would be very hard to convince my children that they still have to go to school, they would still be required to vacuum and change their sheets on weekends, and I wasn’t going to buy them every electronic device known to man JUST because we could afford it now. Having money doesn’t take the place of having discipline and self-control. I think that’s where so many lottery winners fall down. See? I SHOULD win the lottery, because I could be an example to anyone who wins it after me! Lottery boards across the country would give winners a pamphlet along with their check that was called, “Wealth and Responsibility: A Case Study.” I’ll even write it for them (for a fee, of course).

  • Liz says:

    I get what Momus is saying but give me that cold hard cash! So what if it makes me a miserable curmudgeon. I’m a miserable curmudgeon now! Haha. Just kidding. Sort of.
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  • Mo money, mo problems. I’m not saying I wouldn’t take the money, I’m just saying I can understand what Momus is saying. Have you ever watch those shows, The Lottery Ruined My Life, or something like that? It always makes me feel better about not winning the lottery.
    One Funny Motha recently posted…A One Man Tweeting MachineMy Profile

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