If we won the lottery



We’re a good team. We egg each other on and try to split everything 50/50. It’s always been part of our mostly unwritten deal whether it relates to work, earnings, praise, even criticism. We also try to share friends and that amorphous thing called hope.

So, when the Mega Millions lottery began climbing again—as of this past Saturday above $650 million, Barbara, who’s more into thinking she might get lucky even against terrible odds, told Margaret it was time again to part with a few dollars. We’re both frugal but Margaret is a bit more so. Barbara knows not to suggest either that lottery or the Power Ball to Margaret unless the stakes are huge.

The possibility of a win does wonders for Barbara’s psyche. The thought boosts her endorphins like a chunk of dark chocolate does for Margaret. We both have our routines. Barbara always buys her tickets at some out-of-the-way locations, the kinds of places that seem to produce the jackpot winners. And she figured why not. Soon the dreams of winning began churning.

Margaret bought her first and only lottery ticket a few years ago in a competition with Barbara. She fantasized about all the good she could do with her winnings such as gifting money to her kids, investing some and donating to special causes.

Though we’re working partners and good buds, we’re not two peas in a pod who do everything the same. Here’s how each of us would spend our windfalls in the current lottery We don’t want to get cocky and think we’d win the entire amount but would be content to settle for $100 million with a huge chunk (maybe 50 percent) of that going to pay the taxes. Barbara’s figures are rough estimations; don’t bring out your calculator.


  • $6 million, or $2 million to each daughter for real estate purchases and $1 million to each to invest. I like Warren Buffet’s idea that he didn’t want his children to stop working if they thought they were in for a windfall. I know they’ll thank me some day that I didn’t give them more. Promise.
  • $3 million set aside for grandchildren’s educational needs. If one daughter has a second child, I’ll worry about playing catch-up later or just try her lottery luck again.
  • $1 million to the beau, who really deserves about $10 million for putting up with me after I broke my hand and assorted other things. I don’t need to overshare here. If I give him too much, he might leave me, so just enough to keep him around.
  • $2 million split among my closest pals and a few relatives (you know who you are). They’re not in need or on the street but have been loyal through my divorce and listened to those stories ad nauseum until I healed. They also showed up at critical junctures. Anybody who’s not been loyal and shows up after my name is flashed in lights, gets zilch.
  • $6 million for two new homes with one in an urban location and the other in the country. I’m not into megabig just large enough square footage with a lovely sitting area, nice eat-in kitchens with marble—since I can now afford to have them sealed yearly, and maybe one ocean view, none of those brick wall views in the urban locale. Also, a home gym would be nice and a safe room to keep all my cash in case the market crashes.
  • $2 million for my alma mater so I can set up a professorship and a chunk, maybe $500,000, to her daughters’ high school, which gave them a love of learning and great education. This will be done anonymously, which is the classy thing to do. But when you see $2 million given, hint, hint, it’s from me.
  • $2 million for climate control, yes, a drop in the bucket but something to eradicate the mess the environment is in.
  • $1 million for my town’s library, which provided “daycare” when my mom visited, didn’t scold me when I returned books late even before Covid-19 removed all fines, and is part of the soul of her bucolic village. This isn’t a payoff with a stipulation that it has to keep my and Margaret’s books on display in cabinets at the front—though that would be a really nice thank you.
  • $2 million for my advisors can invest so I can spend less time on writing articles I don’t like though I plan to continue to work, just like all the other Lotto winners pretend they’ll do and then quit the next day. I won’t quit; you read it here before you heard it on the evening news.
  • $10 million to fix some of the potholes in New York City, which have been ruining my cars every time I drive into the city, most for good medical care. Former Mayor Bloomberg should have but he probably never drives himself and notices or his car is so expensive that he never feels the bumps.
  • $1 million to up care at my local hospital, so I don’t have to go into the city as much.
  • $2 million to give up my car and hire Uber or Lyft drivers all the time so I don’t have to deal with potholes, deer crossing the road, and road rage. And I might consider also buying a convertible just in case when I want to tool around. I never had one and it remains of my life’s few regrets.
  • $2 million to invest and use for travel, though I won’t be obnoxious and only stay at Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton hotels, except for one time to see what some folks are paying for. I’ll definitely buy out the minibar at least once.
  • $1 million toward ordering take-out and having a personal chef and maid since a New York Timesarticle stated that people who do are happier than others.
  • $1 million for new clothing, regular hair coloring, highlights, weekly blow dries, and more pedicures from places that pay their staff full “living” wages. Or at least I’ll be able to tip more generously. I may try some of the most expensive creams that remove wrinkles since I know that I won’t ever elect elective surgery such as a face or neck lift after the trauma of surgery for my broken arm. I do need to look the part of someone rich, a style I’ve never tried. And yes, Daughter No. 1, I will buy that Chanel purse you said we all should own by these latter years, though you know it will sit in the closet. Take it, It’s YOURS! And yes we can buy another for your younger sister. Fair is fair.
  • $500,000 for adequate therapy since I will need to remain grounded and probably should discuss with a professional how I came up with these numbers and recipients.

Finally, I promise not to fall into the usual rut of most winners who blow all, become instantly poor and are miserable.


Margaret believes that plopping down money, albeit a small sum for a gamble, is a waste. But she did so a few years ago and then recently, knowing it would make good copy. And there’s always a very slim possibility that she’ll win.

Here is the chronology of her first-ever lottery ticket buying episode.

She began by reading the instructions on some machine about how to do the transaction. Trying to get her stride, she inserts a dollar bill and pushes some buttons. The machine rejects her money. She’s convinced it’s a sign. She’s not meant to do this.

A Millennial, or at least she looks like a Millennial, stands in line behind her. She’s vaping and yakking on her phone: “Can you believe what he said to me? He needs money; I’m strapped for funds. I’m in line now to buy two lottery tickets.” She starts to stomp her foot while Margaret fumbles with the machine. Still trying to insert her dollars. Still being rejected.

Perhaps this isn’t such a good idea, she thinks. She turns to the Millennial, “You go first,” she offers. She watches how she does it.

Margaret still fumbles with her dollars. A 40something man wearing lime green crocs approaches the machine.

Time 2:41: “This is my first time. Feel free to go ahead of me,” she offers.

2:42:  A woman wearing oversized gold hoop earrings with a child who is screaming “I want to put in the money. I want to put in the money” moves toward the machine. The woman apologizes profusely for her child’s outburst. I can tell she wants me to decide and get out of her way.

2:43:  “Oh, please go before me. I’m slow.”

2: 45: A man wearing torn jeans and a wife beater undershirt saunters up to the machine. He seems in a hurry. I’m still messing with the transaction. I turn around to apologize and catch him rolling his eyes.

2:46:  “Feel free to go ahead of me,” I offer.

2:48:  An older woman, her name is Jackie (I ask), approaches with bills dangling from her left hand. Each of her nails is polished in a different color. “Hey girl. What’s wrong? Is this your first time?” she asks. I nod. “The machine keeps rejecting my dollars.” She offers to exchange my three one-dollar bills for her newer ones.

2:49: A man comes up behind her, and he seems agitated. He shouts sarcastically: “Get moving lady up there.” Referring to me. Oh, this is almost worse than road rage.

2:50: “Please. go ahead of me,” I say sweetly to the man. I ask Jackie if that’s okay with her. “Sure,” she says and offers to give me a tutorial once the  man leaves.

2:51: OK. Now I know what to do. With Jackie watching over my shoulder, I hit the Powerball. The machine takes my dollar and spews out a ticket with preprinted numbers. “But I wanted to put in my own numbers,” I say to Jackie. She hands me something that looks like a voting ballot for the Mega Millions. “Fill in the numbers carefully and insert it into a different slot at the bottom.” She points. It works.

3:00: I can’t believe this took so long. Suddenly aware of what I just did, I start feeling pretty good. Hummm, I might win. I start to fantasize how I’ll spend my winnings. I picture myself on T.V. being given a big check smiling like a star. And then a slide show in my head begins. I’m seeing all the ways in which I’ll give it away to hungry kids, to find a cure for cancer and climate change, for better public education, to eradicate poverty, help victims of crime, support my favorite political candidates and give big bucks to the war in Ukraine, to fight anti-Semitism and to support world peace like Sandra Bullock did in the movie “Miss Congeniality.”

Will she buy another ticket in the future? She did after Barbara gave her a big push because of the current huge Mega Millions and Powerball pots. “Somebody has to win,” Barbara says. They both also agree to share a portion their winnings with each other.

So, in 95-degree heat, Margaret walks down West End Avenue and into a mini mart in Hell’s Kitchen (on NYC’s west side in the low 50s). Of course, she forgets what to do and asks a man standing next to her for help. Within seconds, she has a team of lottery ticket buying advisors surrounding her all barking suggestions. She fills the form out picking the numbers, mostly the birthdays of her nearest and dearest, plunks down the fee in cash and leaves with hope and ticket in hand.