Wow, winning the lottery, the great fantasy.

All of us have often wondered, and yes, dreamed of walking into a convenience store, buying a simple $1 ticket, and hitting the big time. It’s a fantasy shared by pretty much everyone out there. Whether or not you currently have pennies or millions in your bank account, the allure of instant, and unearned wealth suddenly placed in your hands is enough to send you running and screaming to the nearest Tiffany’s, or Ferrari showroom.

For conversations sake, let’s say you held a winning ticket worth $60 million. You took the cash value option (smart), and paid your taxes. Here in Texas that’s about 25%, all in all leaving you with around $30 million crisp dollars scorching your pockets. Now, your journey begins, transporting you into unchartered territory. So, how would you handle this life-changing, totally unexpected situation? How would your friends and family react? Would you blow it all like most lottery winners do? (I’ve read that close to 70% of all winners go broke within five years) Would you give it away, at least in part? Spend it solely on yourself? Leave it to your children, if you have any? Or buy a few of the things you’ve always wanted, placing the remainder in conservative investments letting you live the rest of your days off rosy interest payments.

I’ve often thought that winning the lottery would bring out who you really are as a person. Your morals, character, greed, and ability to give to others would all boil to the surface. It would tell you real quick who your friends were, what your family members truly think of you, and test your ability to handle pressure, strength, and point the direction of your inner compass. In the news a while back, there was an elderly couple who won a few million and gave away almost every penny. They said they were comfortable with what they had, and just decided to bless others with their luck-a truly remarkable story in our ultra-materialistic society.

Here’s what I would do, and yes, I’m just like everyone else out there often wishing that my turn to stand atop the winner’s podium might actually happen one day.

Once I found out that I’d won (and after picking myself up off the floor) my first task would be to contact a lawyer, accountant, and financial advisor. The lottery commission wouldn’t know my identity since you have many months to make your claim. Once that was accomplished, and I had my ducks-in-a-row, the money would go straight to the bank(s). I would’ve claimed the money through a trust, keeping me completely anonymous from the public eye. And I’d tell very few of my good fortune. I’ve heard some winners go so far as hiring bodyguards to protect themselves from sneaky predators.

If I were so blessed to have this gift, I would give away 10-20%. No waiting. And no kidding around here either. Honest. God would get his share, although he owns everything anyway. I’ve often thought of seeking out small, country churches in desperate need of help and giving to them (a new roof, some fresh bibles, a bus or van, etc.) My direct oversight would keep track of every penny, making sure the money was spent on its intended purposes. I would be the sole administrator, leaving nothing to chance. I’d supply some for the homeless. Give to certain, targeted charities. I don’t have children, so I would set up bank accounts putting a couple of my relatives through college, wherever they chose to attend. They’re going anyway, but it would ease the load off their parents. The rest of my family, I’d dish out a few, one-time gifts to spend on whatever they wanted. I’d make out a list of my closest (true) friends and spread my good luck around, nothing crazy, just a little something to make their lives a bit easier. The rest, a few items that I’ve always dreamed of owning and haven’t been able to, would be acquired. Don’t misunderstand me here, my winnings would be enjoyed, a LOT (hmm, I’ll take the little red convertible, please!) After this, I’d have the pleasure of living in the arms of financial freedom. Boy, it’s always nice to dream, huh?

We’ve all heard it said before: money is power; it makes life easier and grandiose, gives us confidence and strength, and lets us sleep easier at night. But, would greed take over if you suddenly had piles of Benjamin Franklins? Or would your personality be kept in check?

Many professional athletes in all sports have been known to retire broke after years of stardom. They’re constantly surrounded by ravenous people with sticky hands: managers, investment counselors, long-lost relatives, yes-men, along with business entrepreneurs and their can’t-miss ventures. Their lavish toys and extravagant lifestyles soon take over. Next thing they know, their fortunes are gone. A sad state of affairs develops afterward: bankruptcy, and public humiliation along with the inability to have such earning potential placed upon their shoulders again.

The reason I brought up professional athletes is they’re the same as lottery winners. Lots and lots of money come into their lives in a short amount of time. Some handle it well. Sadly, many don’t. Lots of them wish they could’ve had at least one more year to make that winning pass, or swing of a bat. The great boxer, Mike Tyson is a perfect example of one who earned, and lost a huge fortune because of severe mismanagement.

So, how would your life change if this golden ring was slipped upon your finger?

Money can be wonderful if used wisely. Look at Bill and Melinda Gates. Their Gates Foundation is literally forking over billions to charity. The money is helping thousands, if not millions of worthy causes. It’s nice to see this in a society where opinions toward the rich are increasingly judgmental.

Having a sudden fortune would be great if used correctly and wisely. The overall odds of winning a lottery are astronomical, yet people win all the time. Which brings up another question if you won: Why you? What caused your number (s) to come up in a sea of millions? Was it just pure luck, did the stars align in your favor, or was it some sort of divine destiny God had intended? Think about it this way, God controls everything; therefore, if you were given this great gift what would he want you to do with it?

If you throw a dollar or two at your big chance, I wish you the best of luck. After all, there’s nothing wrong with having a little fantasy in the middle of reality. A healthy way of living!

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