Scott Levine.jpg

Scott Levine

Someone will most likely wake up Saturday with a whole new life.

Whether that means they’re lucky or not is up for interpretation.

The Mega Millions lottery jackpot is more than $500 million and the winning numbers will be drawn tonight.

Excitement over the world-record payout is boosting lottery sales and keeping convenience store owners happy with the new clientele.

One of those new players happened to be me Tuesday. Normally I stay out of the lottery drawing, since the odds are insurmountable and I’m too cheap to waste $1 or $2 on another chance to lose at a random drawing.

With a little nudge from my wife, I walked into a convenience store this week and requested a Mega Millions ticket. Since this was my first time, I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what I was doing.

I walked in with a $5 bill, thinking the ticket was $2. I quickly realized they were $1 apiece and for some reason I muttered that I wanted three tickets.

The cashier gave me a “you don’t have any idea what you’re doing,” look and printed out three tickets that I was sure were destined for victory.

A few hours later, I returned back to reality.

And that’s not all too bad.

We’ve heard stories about people who won the lottery and lost everything. Take for instance William Post, who won $16.2 million in the lottery, and then got sued, had to dodge a hit man hired by his brother and eventually spent everything. He now lives on food stamps.

Even more astonishing is that about 90 percent of lottery winners blow through their winnings in five years, according to financial adviser Don McNay, who is a columnist with CNHI, the parent company of the Clinton Herald.

That statistic is mind-blowing, considering that tonight’s Mega Millions winner could make the most expensive blockbuster movie in world-history and still have money left over, according to the Iowa Lottery. Also, the winner could give every person in the world $1 and still have some left over to share.

Winning the lottery actually makes life worse and more difficult for people, but most contestants  (including me) will enter the game with a sense of confidence they wouldn’t make the same mistakes as previous winners. Unfortunately most jackpot winners come from places where they’ve never had any money, so they aren’t educated about how to spend their money wisely.

More money brings more problems (I think that’s a song, but described a little differently). Friends become harder to trust and it’s too easy to fling around every dollar, and before you know it, every last cent is spent. I do, however, believe that half a billion dollars may be too much to spend. But I’ve been proven wrong before, so we’ll find out in the next five years.

I’m sure having that much money makes life more complicated, which may alter what usually marks the most difficult decision of my day — whether the stroller or red wagon is the best way to pick up my daughter from daycare.

Likely I won’t have to worry about a life-changing moment tonight. Odds are about 1 in 176 million, and since I haven’t won a drawing since middle school, I doubt I’m lucky enough to bring home the big prize.

Or maybe I should consider myself lucky that I will return to my normal life Saturday. Who knows, I might make the right choice on what device works best Monday for picking up my daughter.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at Scott