Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

November 29, 2012

Carrie Stambaugh: Jackpot! Just what would we do with all that cash? 11/30/12

ASHLAND — It’s safe to say, if you are reading this, I did not win the Powerball. Not that I wouldn’t keep writing if I had, but I probably would have at least skipped work on Thursday to celebrate.

I don’t normally play the lottery, but on the way home from a city council meeting Tuesday night I stopped and bought a ticket at my husband’s urging. Earlier in the day he’d sent me a text message advising the purchase. He sealed the deal with the following line, “West Virginia, here we come!”

Yes, that’s right. If my husband and I won the jackpot, we’d both retire and build our dream home in the Mountain State. It would most likely be a larger log cabin than we now hope to build someday on a farm here in eastern Kentucky and it would be smack dab in the middle of nowhere, as long as that nowhere was close to the Greenbrier River and the Monongahela National Forest.

Spurred by a vision of a cozy timber home with sky lights, a giant fireplace and an attached greenhouse, I bought my $2 ticket. Why not, I reasoned, as I waited in line. Someone was going to win. I had just as much a chance as everyone else.

After I tucked my ticket securely into my wallet, I headed home for the night. I forgot about it as I finished a story and cleaned the kitchen.

Later, as I tossed and turned in the dark trying to force myself to sleep, I started to think about that lottery ticket.

What would we really do with $500 million —  well, $325 million after Uncle Sam gets paid.  Paying off our entire family’s homes and school loans and putting aside money for the next generation’s homes and education seemed like logical first expenditures.

After establishing large scholarship funds at both of our high schools and colleges, something I’ve always dreamed of doing if we ever “make it big,” and maybe an endowment or two to our favorite charities, I decided we’d still have plenty of cash to spend.

Long vacations could be another priority, I thought. I have always wanted to see the entire world, and with a fortune like that I would have a much better shot at it then I have now. But then I remembered we are not ritzy resort people. Our preferred mode of travel is by foot and our favorite accommodations are made of nylon. It’s not uncommon for us to save money by going on vacation for a week or two.

We could upgrade to safaris and cruises to places like Antarctica, but one can’t spend every moment traveling. It’s the contrast of traveling and not traveling that makes visiting new places so exciting.

As I lay there, waiting for sleepiness to come, I thought on. If we both quit our jobs to retire so young, would we just get bored? What would we do if we could do anything we wanted? I couldn’t come up with an answer except what we do now. We both love our professions.

Then I started to think about all those horror stories about lottery winners. We’ve published a few. Many times they end up penniless, with wicked drug and alcohol habits and get into fueds with family and friends. All their conflicts are rooted in their new-found wealth.

No, thank you. Winning the Powerball was beginning to sound like more stress than fun.

At some point I drifted off to sleep. When the alarm woke me up early Wednesday, I concluded if I wasn’t a millionaire by the end of the day, at least I had an idea for my column.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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