What Would You Do If You Won the Lottery?

It Could Happen to You Bridget Fonda Nicholas Cage Rosie Perez

Did you hear that the one winner of the $450 million Mega Millions jackpot last month was a 20-year-old man from Florida? Can you imagine?!

Jonathan and I have never been much into playing the lottery, but when the jackpot starts to get really big (and makes it all over the news), sometimes we buy a ticket or two — because who knows! It’s funny; despite the odds of winning being 175 million to one, I can’t help but fantasize about what having a windfall like that would be like…

On our drive to work recently, I asked Jonathan what he would do if we won hundreds of millions in the lottery. It’s a fruitless question, to be sure, but I can’t help myself! Fantasizing and talking about this falls right up there with baby names for me!

Of course there are the obvious, respectable answers everyone gives: find an accountant, hire a lawyer, set up an estate, pay off all remaining debt, invest, help family if they need it… But what about the other stuff — the fun stuff?

Would you live large, spending dough like the newfound multimillionaire you are? (Truly, no shame if so.) Or would you be frugal, simply spending what you need to live comfortably and without worry? (Also no shame!)

Jonathan insists he would be the latter, not really interested in luxury goods or a life of leisure and excess, but I think this has more to do with his pragmatism and tendency to avoid falling into a sea of “What ifs?” rather than an actual aversion to nice things.

Lottery Ticket 2010

While I’m certainly not the exact opposite of Jonathan (my dreams fall somewhere in between “life of leisure” and “just the essentials”), I do love getting lost in fantasy.  Because if you really think about it, questions like “Where would I live if money wasn’t a factor?” or “How many kids would I have if I didn’t have to worry about the cost of raising them?” or “Where would I travel to first if a First Class ticket was just an anxiety-free click away?” or “What kind of work would I do if salary wasn’t important?” or “What kinds of charities would I dump massive amounts of money into?” can actually help you genuinely narrow down what you want to do with your life.

While money is certainly important, and obviously not having it is a barrier in many respects, if I answer the above questions with “Whidbey Island,” “5,” “Patagonia/Antarctica,” “Write a book,” and “Animal sanctuaries,” shouldn’t I try to make it all a reality, to the best of my ability, regardless of my millionaire status?

Sure, without something like a lottery win, I likely will never get the island estate on the Puget Sound, AND the condo in Seattle, AND the brownstone in Brooklyn, AND the castle in the Scottish countryside I dream about owning as my family jet sets around the world… but maybe one of those things? Maybe something close to it?

Jonathan and I do agree about one thing, though: the most exciting prospect of having that kind of money is simply the idea of needing or wanting something — even basic essentials — and not stressing about clicking “Place order” and then double-checking your bank account to be sure you have enough to cover it. Or putting off important car maintenance while we wait for our tax refund to clear. What a life, huh?

So tell me: Do you ever fantasize about winning the lottery? What would you do if you did? What’s something you’ve always wanted to buy but was just too expensive? (Remember: NO SHAME!) And are the passions you’d try to pursue only achievable or accessible to you with lots of money? I’d love to know!

(Top photo from It Could Happen To You; second photo from Lottery Ticket)


2 thoughts on “What Would You Do If You Won the Lottery?

  1. Woo. I think about this pretty seriously every year or two. Usually during times of extreme when life gets too slow (minds wander!) or too fast (‘get me out of here!’), and it’s a tough question. Because reality always creeps in, like “Well, I’d buy that $3.2M modern home in the Studio City hills so I can be close to work in Burbank…” then I realize, “Wait, work, what work?!!?”

    With a world of possibilities… I don’t even know. I can’t imagine not investing in some properties, possibly some with a lot of variety, in size (i.e. townhouse, single family bungalow, cabin, expansive estate) and location (i.e. the beach, the woods, the mountains, the city, the desert…), but then what?

    If I didn’t need to make money, and could just spend my time how I wanted, I think I’d likely take classes. Maybe more sign language. Dedicate entire summers to traveling, kids in tow. Volunteer in the Spring & Fall to big cat sanctuaries. Or maybe open one myself? Take leisurely coffee breaks every morning, and see afternoon matinee movies, lol.

    Expand my horizons by having memberships to all kinds of frivolities, like wine clubs and theatre season tickets, which on their own are reasonably priced but always feel like a waste of money when you really need to replace your sneakers.

    The big question, the one I always have the hardest time answering is, HOME BASE. Where is it? I have a hard time believing I’d pick anywhere that wasn’t sunny. ☼

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Buy a very nice but affordable house – something I’d never have to worry about paying to upkeep. I’d invest just enough that I could make *some* potential return (but not enough that I would be ruined it everything was lost). I would budget enough to make sure I never was want for anything, but not spend extravagantly. I would put enough money in a savings account to pay for my kids education, but make them have to work for things like their first car (with some minimal help, of course – but I hated those entitled rich kids in High School who drove a brand new 50K+ car). I’d focus on painting more, get better at welding, and probably go fishing and hiking as much as possible.


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