Rollin' Like Sisyphus

A Lottery

Posted in The Fail Pail by Huckleberry on January 13, 2016

So we have this Powerball lottery with a payout jackpot of “$1.5B~”, which is a lot of money even after kickbacks and taxes get shaved off, with the drawing taking place tonight. By the cut-off time, the jackpot is expected to be the largest ever for a lottery, which has everyone slapping two dollars down on the counter because a billion dollars is one of the few things in material life that still has value, as opposed to the tens of millions that the Powerball routinely offers twice a week.
That’s because a million dollars ain’t what it used to be. Everyone examines the fluctuating costs of quotidian staples like a carton of milk or a gallon of gas, but in this context, to avoid the very frustrating inability of people to grapple with orders of magnitude, we’ll discuss the value of large things.
You’d like to think $1.5B is a lot of money, life-changing piles of money. And in a certain way, it is. You’ll never have to work a day in your life again, if you take the lump-sum disbursement, you’ll never have to pay taxes on it again, and you’ll be able to do some pretty bitchin’ things with it.
BUT.
There are a lot of things that you would think you should be able to do that you’ll be disappointed to learn are still frustratingly beyond your grasp, that wouldn’t have been a scant handful of years ago.
For example, $1.5B will no longer buy you a premier sports franchise. It won’t even buy you a middling sports franchise. You MIGHT be able to pull off a Major League Soccer expansion franchise, so long as you host it far enough away from expensive real estate to keep infrastructure and licensing costs down while not being ridden out on a rail as unredeemably queer. In 2004, the Los Angeles Dodgers – facilities, real estate and all – was purchased on credit for just shy of $400M. Seven years later, Frank McCourt was able to flip it for $2.2B while retaining most of the facilities and all of the real estate. The following year, the Clippers were sold, also for $2.2B.
At scale, you can see the value of money evaporate in no time flat.
Becoming a billionaire tomorrow means almost nothing, at least in comparison to what it used to mean.
So go ahead, buy your ticket(s) and try to defy the odds, and realize that the real joke of large lottery jackpots isn’t beating the odds, it’s when 12 people all win and have to divide that “life-changing money” up equally.
Ha.

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2 Responses

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  1. Giraffe said, on January 13, 2016 at 14:18

    I’ll take it. I don’t want to buy any sports teams anyway. I’ll even take a 1/12th share of 1.5 billion. Never having to work again is fine with me.

    Now a real tragedy would be winning a couple of million. Because that’s where money not being what it used to be hits you the hardest. It’s enough to spoil you so that you don’t want to work ever again, but not enough to live the rest of your life on. A person would blow it in a decade like 99 out of 100 NFL players and end up in the gutter.

  2. Doom said, on January 13, 2016 at 21:54

    Oh? Hehehe! You NEVER buy. You leverage. As a billionaire, you never actually risk your own money, ever! You use that as proof that you… something… Are lucky, are good, are rich. Then you use that as a way to get others to open their wallets to your ideas. Then, very possibly, you get involved with politicians and figure out how to get richer, and make them rich, while scamming everyone who gave you their money in order to get rich.

    My word, where do you get these silly damned ideas about “buying”? Which, of course, is why anyone who wins will be bankrupt faster than I can spell Corzine, Madoff, Enron, etc. Yeah, they will use the “winner’s” money to buy, then cut, short, and sell his ass right out from under them. *wink* I know how, I just don’t have… what it takes, or what is lacking in those types? Something.


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