Several years ago, I found myself in a 7-Eleven store on July 11 -- that is 7/11 -- at just about eleven minutes after seven o'clock in the morning. I was there to grab an unhealthy snack, but signs all over the store reminded me that I could also purchase a lottery ticket that could pay out millions of dollars. If I believed in superstitions, I would have believed that this was clearly the time and place that I needed to buy a lottery ticket.
I mean, seven and eleven are "lucky" numbers, right? If you've ever played the dice game known as craps, you know that rolling a seven or an eleven is a good thing. Unless you roll them at the wrong time, in which case a seven or eleven is a bad thing.
In fact, the idea that a particular number is more or less lucky than any other is, quite simply, ridiculous. And so I didn't purchase a lottery ticket on that day and, in fact, have not ever purchased one. Mostly, it's because my mind cannot get past the fact that millions of lottery tickets are sold every day, and every day almost every one of those millions of tickets turns out to be worthless.
Still, like most of us, I sometimes dream of what it would be like to have so much money that I wouldn't have to worry about finances. The question I am most often asked when discussing such fantasies is whether I would quit work, and the answer is yes. And no.
I have pictures of my wife and kids on my desk at work. They're not displayed so that my co-workers will know what my family looks like. I put them there to remind me of the reason I drag myself out of bed every day and go into work in the first place. I don't do it for myself. I do it to for my family. Left on my own, I would probably end up like Bruce Banner on the old TV show version of The Incredible Hulk -- travelling from town to town, taking whatever job came up just to feed myself.
So, if I won the lottery, I would most definitely quit my job. But I wouldn't stop working. I'd simply start working for myself rather than somebody else. And I'd make a great boss for myself, too, giving me as many days off as I wanted and not requiring much in the way of real accomplishments.
So what would I do?
Depending on how much money I won, I can imagine maybe buying a radio station and then playing only the music I wanted to hear -- without any talking or commercials. On second thought, even that might take more effort than I'd be willing to put forth if I didn't absolutely have to.
For example, while I love professional football, I wouldn't go out and purchase an NFL team with my newfound fortune -- even if that team could make me more money than I already had. Owning a team would require me to do things like drafting players, hiring coaches, and making payroll. That's too much like real work.
When it gets right down to it, I figure I'd use my lottery money to purchase a handful of consumer goods (new house, new car), and then I'd stick the rest in a bank somewhere and hope to live off the interest. I realize that shows an incredible lack of ambition, but if I'm rich, I don't see myself striving to be richer. I see myself working on pet projects that give me personal satisfaction whether I end up making any new money from them or not. And I see myself giving away a fair amount of the money that I don't need to live comfortably.
Of course, none of that's going to happen if I never play in the first place, so I may just purchase a ticket one day. But, for now, I'll continue to keep the money I'd spend on a lottery ticket in my pocket, so the water bill (or whatever) can get paid. However, I will say that if some past lottery winner (or other millionaire) is tired of dealing with their excess, send it my way. I promise I'll put it to good use.