Jim Muillen: I’m dreaming of a lottery windfall | TheUnion.com

Jim Muillen: I’m dreaming of a lottery windfall

I won! I won! I won the lottery! Seven dollars on a $10 ticket. I’m taking it as a lump sum, not that they even asked my preference. Now I’m cleaning the living room so it won’t look like a pigsty when the photographers arrive.

I can’t tell you how long I’ve dreamed of this moment. I am the original guy who never wins anything, but finally, all those years of buying lottery tickets each week has paid off.

It’s not like I’ve been throwing that money away. A lot of it goes to keep the state from raising my taxes to pay for things like lottery commissioners, and what’s left goes to our educational system, which needs improving.

Why, oh why, was I never taught how to calculate the odds of winning the lottery? If I buy two tickets, does it double my chances of winning?

“If you play the same numbers on two tickets, and why would you, your odds stay the same,” says Sue, who actually paid attention in school. “If you play two tickets with different numbers, you have a gazillion ways to lose but only two ways to win. At the track, a dead horse could get better odds than that.”

Instead of practical math, I took band in school and dreamed of turning professional. But the days of making the big money playing the glockenspiel have gone the way of buckled shoes and powdered wigs, though I still wear them around the house.

Don’t worry; winning won’t change me. I’m not going to quit my job and start lording it around like I’m the king of the world. I’m the same today as I was the day before I won, just $7 richer.

Most people might not even notice the difference, that’s how grounded I am.

By the way, I have a new unlisted number. I don’t want to answer a bunch of nuisance calls from relatives now that I’m a winner.

Too many people had my old unlisted number. And by too many people, I mean my family. Who gave it to them?

A lot of people ask how I picked the numbers. Is there a system I use? No, it was pretty much dumb luck. Sue’s birthday, my first address, the last two digits in my Social Security number. I don’t know if that will work for you, but it sure worked for me.

Was I disappointed I didn’t win the grand prize? Not until I learned I hadn’t won it. Before that, I was happiness itself. For the two days I had the ticket in my pocket, I daydreamed about what I’d do with hundreds of millions of dollars.

Oh, I’d spend a little on myself — take a few trips, find out what the first-class compartment on a plane looks like, buy a new car, fix up the house, start making glockenspiel records — but that would still leave, oh, $150 million. I’d send some off to my brothers and sisters, give some to friends who had fallen on hard times, make some anonymous donations. I daydreamed about making people happy, like some good lottery fairy godmother — dropping out of the sky and doling out $10,000 here, $5,000 there. I would be a force for good; I would change lives in profound ways.

Just daydreaming about winning made me a nicer, happier, more cheerful person for those two days.

For $10, I got two days of happiness, which, compared to going to a movie or going bowling, seemed to be a bargain. It’s way, way cheaper than seeing a therapist. And what difference does it make if I win or not? No one expected me to drop out of the sky and solve all the world’s problems anyway.

I’m wondering now if I can get the same effect if I spend only $5 a week. To go out and buy hundreds of dollars of lottery tickets I can’t afford would be foolish, but to spend a few bucks to improve my attitude?

Sue would think it was a bargain. She might even give me the money.

Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.

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