FLINT - The big Mega Millions drawing was Friday night. Did you win?
Ha ha ha, of course you didn't. The last I checked the odds were 176 million to 1, and as the news loved pointing out you have a better chance of lightning striking you 500 times than seeing your numbers drawn. (Why the news always uses the lightning comparison is beyond me - if you're struck by lightning, odds are you're not going to need lottery winnings anymore, and if you're struck 500 times you'd be charcoal. So what's the point?)
You also didn't win because your name isn't "someone else." It says right there on the back of the ticket in small print that "someone else" who neither deserves or needs the money will win.
Many people don't know that.
"Someone else" is usually over the age of 90. Have you noticed that? Why the heck is someone that age playing the lottery? When you're 90, you don't need a Gulfstream, a Maserati or your own island. But I need that stuff. Stop being so selfish.
I didn't win the lottery either, by the way. If I had, you wouldn't be reading this. I'd be too busy buying Oahu, a space shuttle and possibly Kate Hudson.
I bought tickets, though. I had to. My rule is that once the jackpot reaches $500 million it's worth my time. I can't be bothered with jackpots of a million bucks, for instance. Puh-leez. That's not life-transforming money. Have you seen the cost of gas?
If I'm going to throw away money on a ticket I want so much back that I never have to work again. Not that writing semi-humorous, occasionally intelligent things for you people is "work." Ahem.
If I'm going to be honest, I have to admit that I don't often play the lottery because I'm a bit of a social do-gooder.
The money you could win in lotteries used to be so relatively small that it could change one life, not many.
Since the advent of multi-state lotteries, jackpots have grown so obscenely huge that I can't help thinking what a waste it all is. What's one person going to do with half a billion dollars? Half a billion dollars could, however, improve life for millions of people.
For instance, I saw a story the other day about schools asking parents to donate toilet paper for the classroom because the school can't afford it. Can you imagine?
No one wants to pay a single dime more in taxes and yet we seem to have plenty of money to spend on lottery tickets. Doesn't that seem wrong?
Here's my radical idea: Once a week, we hold a state lottery where half the proceeds go to the winner and half goes to specific civic improvement projects. Week one could be "TP for schools."
The next it could be "Finally fix our stupid roads," then "No one goes hungry in Michigan for a year."
I'd buy a ticket for any of those lotteries.
The question is would you?
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/aheller. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.