What would you have done if you won the Mega Millions Lottery Jackpot? I know what I would have done.
If you are reading this and you did win big – well, heeeello new best friend. For the rest of us, our dreams of owning our own private islands, swimming in a money bin a la Scrooge McDuck, and having Katy Perry sing at our next birthday party have long since went out the window.
And while I am certainly saddened that now I may never have the opportunity to fly into outer space dressed in a Battlestar Galactica outfit on Virgin Galactic(a) I probably should actually be thanking God that I didn’t win ALL that MONEY.
In reality, most of us don’t have what it takes to be really, really rich. Think about that for a minute: Instantly your life would change – and NOT necessarily all for the better. I mean even aside from the whole “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” thing, there are some real drawbacks to winning that much money.
Take for instance the 5th version of your 22nd cousin removed that just showed up on your door step the second after you won, or that you now need security in the form of Grizz and Dot Com, or the fact that you actually considered anything close to what was suggested in the second paragraph of this post. Put simply – you’d be in over your head.
And how would you even begin to fairly determine who you would give what?
For me personally, I’d like to do the following:
✓ Pay off any debt that I have outstanding.
✓ Set up college funds for potential children and grandchildren (with specified stipulations).
✓ Help take care of my family (in specified gifts) and,
✓ Travel a bit (a lot).
Outside of that I would need to figure out how to give 10% to the church. And this is where things start getting dangerous. I have seen large sums of money tear congregations apart more so than help them so odds are I would be splitting the 10% numerous ways between various non-profits.
And then of course you get into the issue of directed giving. I certainly wouldn’t want my money ending up like the Red Cross Haiti fiasco so then how do you stipulate who gets what and what they are required to do with it? Stipulations on gifts can actually be more debilitating than helpful for non-profits because, once the general public gets word of the gift, everyone thinks that the church/organization “doesn’t need their donation” anymore. This can paralyze an organization and even end a non-profit all in the name of good intentions.
So, odds are with such considerations, you’d quickly need a financial planner, a good lawyer, and a small team of trusted advisors (aka not the aforementioned person on your doorstep) just to avoid hurting anyone with your new found fortune.
For someone like me well, I am friends will a ton of people that run charitable non-profits all of whom I am sure, in the interest of their organizations, would be asking for help. How then do you choose without offending people? The simple realistic answer is – you don’t. You are now in a lose-lose situation. And how do you determine how much money to give so that you actually make a difference somewhere as opposed to just putting a proverbial Band-Aid on an identified problem?
Add to that that on average between 10-20 people die of starvation every minute. All of a sudden half a billion dollars doesn’t seem like that much money even with Katy Perry singing “firework” to you while you eat ice cream cake made by the Iron Chef in your balloon-animal birthday hat.
The crazy thing is that even if you put the Mega Millions Lottery winnings into the The Global Rich List’s annual income field – even if your income is 500,000,000 a year – you would only be the 107,565 richest person in the world. That isn’t even close to the richest person’s – Carolos Slim Helu’s of Mexico 69 Billion dollars – and is just half of any of these 1153 Billionaires fortunes.
And what is more, if you make $48,000 a year or greater you are STILL in the world’s richest 1%. Occupy that concept for a minute America.
The fact is most of us are just greedy. We want more, more, more when having more really only presents greater opportunities for us to be isolated from community engagement, which in turn slowly dehumanizes us.
So Mega Millions losers rejoice! You have been saved the agony of a slew of ethical decisions that may have dramatically changed your life for the worse even if you don’t now own a Wonka size chocolate waterfall inside of your house. For a mere $1 you have been afforded the reality check that being fiscally rich might not be all that it is cracked up to be. That is money well spent for a perspective that brings us a little closer to Jesus.