Though 'you'll never win the lottery,' it's fun to dream

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You might have heard that there's a new and sudden multi-millionaire in the United States.

Mavis Wanczyk, 53, of Chicopee, Mass., discovered on Aug. 23 that she had won that day's $758.7 million Powerball grand prize.

As most big winners do, Mavis opted to take the lump sum - a mere $480 million, of which she will receive about $336 million after taxes, according to experts in this sort of thing.

Three hundred, thirty-six million dollars. Can you wrap your brain around that? I can't.

In a TV interview, Mavis said she had already told her boss at the medical facility where she worked that she wasn't coming back. I haven't heard any other news about what she might do with all those big bucks, but I hope she buys herself a nice little something.

I don't recall the first time I heard of a lottery, but it must have been when I was a teenager, in the 1970s, when scratch cards were introduced in the U.S. Back then, a million dollar prize was a pretty big deal.

In our staunch Southern Baptist household, gambling was not allowed. Gambling was not only considered a sin, but it was considered a game for fools and the ignorant. "Your odds of winning are ridiculous," my dad said. "There's no way you could win."

(I wonder if Mavis Wanczyk's dad ever told her that.)

Of course, I was too young back then to buy a ticket, but one night I stayed up late and made a list of all the things I would buy with a million dollars.

I would have bought our family a larger house, as well as new houses for each of my three married siblings, and a new car for everyone too. I'd give some to charity, and to my younger siblings, and save some for college.

When I was done, hours later, I had "spent" about $250,000 (it was the '70s; a nice house was $50,000). I ran out of ideas for spending my "bounty."

Oh my. How times have changed.

Today, if I were to be suddenly showered with a million dollar prize, I would take my husband to dinner, buy a $100 bottle of wine, do something fun with our kids, and then put the rest in an interest-bearing account for retirement.

No, I would not come back to work tomorrow. (Sorry, B.J. I'll help you write a want ad, though.)

Now, if I had the kind of money that everybody's new friend Mavis has, I would have some fun!

I would travel to some of the places that have intrigued me over the past decades: Italy, Australia, London, Paris, Bali, India, Kenya, Dubai. I would also have to buy a house in the Caribbean.

I would also buy a swell RV and travel the back roads of the good ol' USA. I'd search out weird landmarks, beautiful vistas and creative people, not necessarily in that order.

And of course, I would have to do good for others less fortunate. Non-profit organizations would be on my list, starting with my mother-in-law's Rabbit Sanctuary in the upstate, but so would random folks at the grocery store, teachers at schools, students in the coffee shop, owners of rescues in a dog park, and other kind souls I met along the way.

Ah, the dreaming is fun, isn't it? I'll probably never win the lottery, but then again, one can't win if one doesn't play.

They say money can't make one happy. But I'd like an opportunity to test that theory. When is the next Powerball?

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