Monday, March 15, 2010

The REAL lottery winners

Just like everyone else, I feel a tinge of excitement when I hear news of a huge lottery payout. Hey, I’m human after all - we can all use another $100 million or so in the bank for a rainy day - right? No I’m not a gambler in general but I especially avoid the lure of those impossibly long odds of the multi-state lotteries. Even with elephant-sized lottery cash on the line, picking tickets is of little consequence, because I’ve already discovered how to pick the REAL winners!

This was not always the case. Once I made a 50 mile round trip excursion to buy lottery tickets from neighboring Illinois for a friend who lived in California. This particular “Power Ball” type game was not available in the West but my friend had heard that the jackpot had ballooned to $300 million so he asked ‘for a favor’. Yes, along with his $50 “investment”, I WASTED 5 bucks of my own on the off chance that I would not get hit by lightning 5 times first before collecting my winnings.

Needless to say it didn’t work out - I got hit by lightning twice that week (joking) and all that time, gas, and hard earned cash were now gone and just a poignant memory (not joking). So a decade later, I recently noticed that some guy in South Dakota won a massive $232 million dollar lottery jackpot. That is not really what caught my attention however. I understand that the winner took the ‘one time’ up-front payout of only $88 million instead of the 20 year low and slow delivery method for his windfall.

Wow, I knew the tax man cometh, but do you mean poor old Mr. Lucky only gets 38% for his trouble? I guess the government is REALLY working overtime trying to help us? Behind these numbers of course is our State government’s claim how lottery sales are such an important benefit to our schools. A little fact checking, at least in Missouri, reveals that the revenue generated to the State’s education budget is a meager 3%. I don’t know about you, but I usually can eat 3% more or less of something and hardly notice it at all?

Further still, since typically by State law, lottery revenue is a DEDICATED RESOURCE, it must be used for State school needs ONLY. Your legislators will begrudgingly honor the letter of the law outwardly, but craftily, behind closed doors, ignore its spirit. By simply shifting discretionary funds that would have ordinarily gone to education over to something else, your lawmakers use lottery revenue to REPLACE school funds NOT ADD to them.

Now that you understand who the big winners are in the lottery lore, do yourself and your loved ones a favor – DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY! If you want to beat the odds and have a better life for your family, run don’t walk to that school you park your kids in and DONATE 25% of your former lottery gaming budget to school supplies or equipment. 100% of your donation will go to where it’s intended (plus it’s tax deductible), and you’ll have 50% leftover to put into an INTEREST EARNING savings account. Oh yes … that final 25%? Well you need a reward for being so smart – so take the family out for an impromptu ice cream celebration! Now I'd BET you know how to pick out the REAL winners too?!

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