Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

November 29, 2012

Powerball frenzy makes me feel lucky

CROSSVILLE — I had a bigger chance at winning an academy award or a Grammy, yet, I still felt compelled to take a chance and spend a few bucks on a Powerball Lottery ticket.

No multi million dollar win, though. The odds of winning were a slimmer than slim one in 175 million.

It's not something I play regularly, just every now and then when the jackpot gets really high. I'm not even sure why.

According to an Associated Press story I read this morning, Powerball officials said early Thursday morning that tickets sold in Arizona and Missouri matched all six numbers to win the record $579.9 million jackpot.

That's a lot of money!

"Tickets were selling at a rate of 130,000 a minute nationwide — about six times the volume from a week ago. That pushed the jackpot even higher before the Wednesday night drawing," said Chuck Strutt, executive director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.

I have to admit I got quite a kick and thrill out of seeing all of the lottery status updates on Facebook and the crowds of people piling into convenience markets to get their tickets.

Also, everywhere I went on Wednesday, people were talking about the Powerball, the big jackpot and what they would do with the money if they won.

"Why, I'd go out and get me a brand new car and all my kids a new one," I overheard one man say.

Many friends said they would share with one and other if one of them won. Sharing is nice.

I overheard two women talking at the check-out stand at Dollar General and one of them said she'd "quit this job in a heartbeat and stay home all day in a new home taking bubble baths, eating candy and watching TV."

The other woman giggled like a little school girl and said, "I wouldn't wait on another person for the rest of my life. Not even the kids!"

"If I win, I'll give you some, honey," The cashier said.

"Me, too," the other said.

I was alarmed at the amount of people who said the first thing they would do would be quit their job. That kind of saddens me because it speaks volumes about our society and how many people who are working to get by and are unhappy.

I can honestly say I wouldn't quit my job here at the Chronicle because I love what I do and I feel blessed to be able to go to work enjoying my time here.

When I was a child my parents and my grandparents would often talk about the Great Depression and how tough things were in the world.

They'd share stories of people coming to grandma and grandpa's house in Chicago and asking if they had any chores that could be done around the house for food — just so they could eat. Dad told me about a man who mowed grandma and grandpa's lawn, cleaned up the leaves and swept the sidewalk just for a sandwich.

If you had a job you were considered very lucky and you did whatever it took to keep that job.

I'm not going off on some welfare tangent or anything like that, I'm just saying that it saddens me to see how many people there are who don't appreciate having a job.

I've had a lot of conversations with managers in both retail sales and restaurants here in Crossville and say they have a hard time keeping good help. Most employees quit after they see what their job entails and others just don't care and don't put forth much effort at all.

What's happened to the work ethic in our society? Everything has become so instant, convenient and disposable.

I saw on a TV news show the other night where they actually had a segment on what to do if you win the lottery or Powerball.

Take the ticket and put it in a safe deposit box, hire an investment attorney and plan your strategy before even coming forward and claiming your prize, the program advised.

That would be the smart thing to do, I suppose.

I've heard of so many people who have won the lottery and have gone off the deep end and have either blown all the money within a couple of years and have gone bankrupt, or have died from the crazy lifestyle they adopted after winning their millions.

I specifically remember a story of an 18-year-old back in the 1980s who won $32 million in the lottery. This young man threw a huge party to celebrate. He got so carefree and careless that he overdosed on drugs at the party and died.

What is it that compels us to think that winning millions of dollars would make us rich and happy? Is it the way the lives of the rich and famous are glamorized on TV?

There are so many people who are suffering in the world. People who don't have jobs, homes, families, or good health.

When I think of things like that, and look at all I have, I consider myself to be the luckiest person alive.

• • •

Gary Nelson is a Crossville Chronicle staffwriter. His column is published each Friday. He may be reached at gnelson@crossville-chronicle.com.

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