The United States was founded by dreamers.
From the earliest Spanish settlers in St. Augustine, FL in 1565, to the pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, to the millions of immigrants who’ve arrived since and are still arriving, if you had a dream – the U.S. was and is the place to make it come true.
These dreamers always envisioned – and still envision – a better life. For most, that equaled more money.
We’re still a country of dreamers, and that “more money” is very much a part of our dreams.
But now, instead of traveling across oceans, we travel to the nearest mini-mart.
And buy a lottery ticket.
And why not? When there’s a $1.537 billion possibility for a $2 investment.
That’s the amount someone recently won with a Mega Millions ticket purchased in South Carolina.
And we may never know who, because in South Carolina, lottery winners aren’t required to go public.
And if the winner is smart, she or he will never go public.
Winning a huge amount of instant money is an instant invitation to people who are related to the winner, know the winner, or just heard about the winner who arrive, hands extended and entitlement attitude in place, singing “Buddy, can you spare…”
Best to stay unnamed and unknown.
Unfortunately, only a handful of states allow anonymity, and the rationale is interesting:
“Winners need to be public so the public has faith in the lottery,” said California Assemblyman Phil Ting. “Beneficiary anonymity cannot overshadow governmental accountability to the public.”
“We want the public to know these games are fair and that they can see someone actually won,” said Adam Prock, director of communications and legislative affairs at the Minnesota Lottery. “The Legislature has made a priority of government transparency.”
“We’re dealing with public money. And the public has the right to know who’s getting the money,” said James Carey, acting director of the New Jersey state lottery commission. “It’s important for the integrity and transparency to see who the winners are.”
“Accountability.” “Transparency.” “Integrity.”
Yup. When I think of “government,” those are the words that come to mind.
People looking for handouts aren’t the only pitfalls of winning big – stories abound about lottery winners whose great good luck turned into very bad outcomes. For instance:
- William Post won $16.2 million in Pennsylvania in 1988. In 2006 Post died alone and penniless, living off of welfare payments.
- Doris Murray won $5 million in Georgia in 2007. A year later she was found stabbed to death in her home, her former boyfriend charged with killing her.
- Abraham Shakespeare won $17 million in Florida. In 2010 his body was found buried under a concrete slab in the backyard of an acquaintance.
But even with all the moochers and all the bad endings, we dreamers will go on buying lottery tickets.
In 2017 we spent $73 billion chasing the dream.
And why not? After all…
Somebody’s going to win.