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‘If I had a million dollars, I’d be…’

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Jan 24, 2021

I have confessed before that I don’t understand money. Particularly big money.

And, that is perhaps because that as a newspaper editor for many years, my income has been modest. Comfortable, yet modest.

Perhaps my feelings about money come from my parents, who also had modest incomes. My dad was a Navy career man. My mom was a stay at home housewife during my younger days, but then was an office manager about the time I was in college.

We lived in modest, comfortable homes. About the time I left home and went out on my own, my parents did start to have a better income when my father bought his own window replacement company. But it still was not big money.

Perhaps my lack of understanding of big money is because things were a whole lot less expensive when I was young. I use the example of buying a brand new car in 1973 for less than $3,000. Granted it was a Chevy Vega and was a pretty cheaply made car, but it was brand new. However, it didn’t have power anything on it. Not a bell or whistle to be found.

But, it was brand spanking new. Now days you can’t hardly buy a 20-year old used car for $3,000. And a new car or pickup truck these days can cost you $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 or up.

Anyway, it is hard for me to fathom things like professional athletes being paid millions upon millions of dollars for throwing a football or hitting a baseball with a bat.

I can’t understand how the federal government can just print trillions upon trillions of dollars of paper money whenever they need some more cash.

I am unable to grasp that the national debt is a number that has so many zeros behind it that soon the word trillion will have to be replaced with zillion or whatever comes next.

How are companies and the people who own them worth billions and billions of dollars? What makes what some people do worth a lot of money, yet others who are doing something so much more worthwhile are not paid much for it at all?

Which brings me to the point of this column this week. Finally.

The conversations among people I know this past week or two has been about winning the Powerball or the Mega Millions lotteries.

Surely you must know that both of these have been reaching a huge number, close to a billion dollars each, and there has been a lot of lottery ticket buying fever.

So the talk has been what would you do with $800 million? What would you do if you won both lotteries and $1.5 billion? Of course, you would probably be giving half to the government in taxes. But that still gives you a pretty big chunk of change left to spend.

Would you buy a lot of big beautiful homes, one in northern Minnesota on a lake, one in Las Vegas, one in Florida, maybe New York or Los Angeles, etc.? Would you go on a spending spree and buy expensive cars and yachts and maybe your own private jet?

Or would you use the money to help others? Start a business or two, donate to your favorite charitable organizations. Maybe start your own foundation to help others who are in need.

I like to think I would be in that second group. Sure, I would probably spend some on a comfortable sized home somewhere, buy a nice car, maybe even a restored 1973 Chevy Vega – or not. I would probably get something else with a few more bells and whistles.

But I think I would probably just give most of it away. Give it to family, friends and people and groups and organizations who need it or who would do something worthwhile with it.

I think it would be fun to do that. And yes, I do realize that if I win the big jackpot I will suddenly have a lot more long lost family members and friends than I ever thought I had. But, still, I like to think I would use the windfall to do some good in this world.

I am always reminded of the song “If I Had A Million Dollars” by the group Bare Naked Ladies. It tells of simple things they would do with a million dollars, but it ends with the line “If I had a million dollars – I’d be rich.” Today the lyrics might have to be changed to “If I had a billion dollars – I’d be rich.” A million dollars just wouldn’t get you very far these days.

It is fun to think about winning the big jackpot and what you would do with all that money. And, it is interesting to hear what ideas everyone has about what they would do if they won. However, with the astronomical odds of winning the way that they are, I wouldn’t waste much of my time thinking about it if I were you.

And, oh yes, in order to win it, you probably have to go out and buy at least one ticket. Which is something I hardly ever do…but maybe, just maybe I better go get one. After all, somebody is going to win it.

It might as well be me.