Winning the Lottery!

Win the lottery! Win a new life! The allure of gaining a new life by simply plunking a dollar on the table is mind boggling.  Just one dollar for a lottery ticket. Anyone can afford that. Why wouldn’t you?

I met Benny 3 years ago.  He was one of the lucky ones. Benny won a million dollars from his state lottery when he was 35.  For the next twenty years, he would receive a check for $40,000, with the extra $10,000 going for taxes. For Benny, with a high school education and a warehouse job, this was a fortune. Set for life, he decided to quit his dead end job and live on his winnings. The years went quickly.  Benny soon discovered that $50,000 was actually a modest amount – especially since he had to pay his own medical insurance.  His lottery check remained stagnant at $50,000 each year even though inflation was slowly eroding its purchasing power. Every April, he looked forward to receiving a $4,000 tax refund from the $10,000 he had had withheld.

I met Benny 3 years before his lottery money ran out.  At 52 years old with no education and no experience, he was now struggling to find a job.  While many people his age were starting to think about retiring and social security, Benny had realized that he had not been contributing to social security and was consequently not eligible to collect. He planned to sell his modest trailer home and hope his extended family would allow him to move in.

I saw Benny again last year. He had not received a lottery check the previous year. The twenty years had already passed. There would be no tax refund that year. He came in anyway, hoping for a miracle. He had not found a job and was getting his place ready to sell. He brought in a sack of losing lottery tickets. He pushed it across my desk saying that’s all he had this year. And I had to tell him there could be no refund because nothing had been withheld. He went away sad and discouraged.

I hope you never win the lottery. But if you do, never quit your day job.

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