By John Basher
I don’t fancy myself as much of a gambler, in part because
I’m cheap, but more so because I take a chance every time I
drive to my local track. For some reason people aren’t afraid
to text, talk, tweet, put on makeup or attempt to solve
complex geometry while piloting a two-ton vehicle at 60 miles
an hour down a winding road, yet they fear getting caught by
the law. Go figure.
Recently, the Powerball lottery jackpot climbed to a
record-setting $1.6 billion. The idea that someone could
spend $2 on a lottery ticket and walk away a billionaire
caused mass hysteria around the country. It was such a
sensational story that President Obama’s State of the Union
address and the always quotable Donald Trump were moved
to the back pages. People fantasized about becoming rich
beyond their wildest dreams. So what if the odds of winning
were exactly one in 292,201,338? Inevitably someone had
to win the loot. Statistically challenged nincompoops actually
dumped their life savings into buying lottery tickets. They
figured the payoff was worth the gamble. Guess again. The
Powerball craze hit epic proportions in the hours leading up
to the draw. In Texas alone, ticket sales were generating
more than $1 million an hour.
“BLIND HOPE CAUSED ME TO
JUMP IN MY TRUCK AND DODGE
SOCCER MOMS ON MY WAY TO THE
NEAREST AUTHORIZED LOTTERY
(READ GAS STATION).”
The thought of winning a massive amount of money can do
strange things to a person. Case in point: I had never played
Powerball before that day. However, blind hope caused me
to jump in my truck and dodge soccer moms on my way to
the nearest authorized lottery dispense center (read gas station). For all intents and purposes I was a fledgling gambler,
unaware of the process involved in buying a ticket or how
much a ticket even cost. I only knew that I wanted to be a
billionaire. The store clerk looked dumbfounded when I asked
those questions. He demanded $2 and shoved a ticket in my
hand when I sheepishly obliged. The transaction didn’t go quite
like I had envisioned. I certainly didn’t feel like a winner, but
rather a fool who voluntarily gave away my hard-earned cash.
It was the most I’ve ever paid for a 3x5-inch piece of paper.
It’s fun to think about winning the lottery. Would you
choose one lump sum, or instead opt for the payment option?
What would your first purchase be? Which tropical paradise
would you visit? My answers vary widely from the status quo,
but they’re likely not far off from the average motocross nut.
First, I’d request my winnings to be delivered in payments.
There’s no reason for the IRS to take more than is already
required by law. After hiring an attorney and financial advisor,
I’d buy the following:
(1) Forget expensive cars and multi-million-dollar houses.
That’s just not my style. Instead, I would buy a used 2015
Yamaha YZ125 off Craigslist. I’d splurge by purchasing a
Met-Tek titanium bolt kit, Kayaba A-kit forks (the spring kind)
and Dubya wheels. From there I would petition an engineer to
build me a carbon fiber gas tank and have my buddy, Dennis
Stapleton, prep the frame to be anodized black to match the
black Cycra plastics kit. I would own the ultimate Yamaha
( 2) A home is what you make it. Given the choice between
a mansion in Hollywood or a modest house sitting on 100
acres in the country, I choose land. Mark Barnett would build
two outdoor tracks—one of them comprised of sand only. I’d
also have a Supercross track, with the caveat being that the
triples and finish-line jump would be tabletops instead. There’s
no reason for this billionaire to come up short and meet an
early demise. While at it, I would heavily invest in the first
bubble suit. That way I could bounce off the ground and land
safely. My bubble suit would be patented, of course.
( 3) So many lottery winners waste their money. They make
poor investments, live beyond their means and let money
define who they are. Sure, it would be fun to attend the
Catalina Wine Mixer and rub elbows with Robin Leach. At the
same time, there’s no greater joy than aiding a worthy cause.
The Kurt Caselli Foundation, the Asterisk Mobile Medical Unit
and Wings for Life would never have to worry about charitable donations again. They would be fully funded by yours truly.
( 4) What’s the point in retiring? I can’t imagine sitting
around by my Olympic-size indoor pool, replete with a wave
feature, all day long while eating bonbons. After a few weeks
I would be bored to death. Let’s face it, your job helps give
your life meaning and value. If that isn’t the case, then I suggest you find another career. I would be back to work the day
after I struck it rich.
I wasn’t even close to winning the richest Powerball payout in history. I matched one number, just like millions of
other dreamers. However, three lucky people hit the jackpot.
Overnight their lives were changed forever. Debts and bills
were washed away, the weight of the world suddenly lifted.
What a euphoric feeling it must have been to collect $528.8
million. That’s the allure of gambling and why I joined in the
Powerball frenzy. Someone had to beat the odds, only it
wasn’t me. I didn’t wake up that next morning a multi-mil-lionaire, or even $2 richer (the payout for matching the
Powerball number was $4). Instead, I was consoled by the
fact that life’s riches aren’t solely measured in dollar signs.
I have much to be thankful for, just as I’m sure you do. The
ultimate YZ125 and motocross haven will have to wait. Now
it’s back to reality.