Hello, fellow Powerball losers. Unless you’re one of the local winners who got the pity-pittance prize of $50K. Eh. Who needs the bother? Your friends and relatives instantly switch into Sponge Mode and call you up: Hey, heard you won the Powerball! Congrats! Say, I was thinking, you know, little Hannah’s got college coming up and everything —
I only won $50,000, you bark. Half of it went to taxes. Silence on the other end. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. Pause. So, maybe we could go to Perkins, and it could be on you? Or maybe, so, you could buy me groceries for a week. C’mon, we’re family.
Oh, all right. You take your relations to Cub for a spree. There’s an uncomfortable moment when they want to buy the premium ice cream, and you point out that the Stonecreek Farms Triple-Churn Fudge Supreme with Caramel Ribbons is on sale, and they give you that look: Really? You win the Powerball and I have to choose the ice cream that needs a coupon?
Half a billion, though — that’s so much money everyone expects you to Do Good, so perhaps you come up with a charitable cause. I want to build a fleet of drones that will deliver small, clear, tightly sealed bags of circus peanuts to people all over the world. They’re really a misunderstood confection. Yes, clean water and dependable electricity are important, but the experience of biting into the tender flesh of a circus peanut is unique, and I want to bring that to the world.
Then you lose, and your grandiose altruism melts away until the jackpot swells to a size deserving your attention. You play again, if only for the momentary fantasy of what you’d do if you win: Tell off your employer and hide from family and friends. Doesn’t sound fun. You have my word, if I ever win: we’re all going to Lunds, and it’s high-end gelato for everyone.