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What Would You Do With $540 million?

At 9pm tonight, at least one person’s life is going to change forever. And chances are, you’re probably wasting time today envisioning yourself as that person.

Do I even need to explain myself?

The big news story today is tonight’s Mega Millions lottery drawing with an estimated jackpot of $540 million. This is the largest lottery jackpot in world history with the winner receiving 26 annual payments of a little more than $19 million or one lump payment of $389 million. Seems to me that going with the lump payment is akin to being giving back $181 million of your hard-earned…umm…I mean winnings.

Your Chances Of Winning The $540 Mill…

Not that I’m trying to rain on anyone’s victory parade, but the chances of winning tonight’s jackpot are one in 176 million, according to the Associated Press. If you think those are winnable odds, take a gander at the odds below. You have…

  • 1 in 1 million chances of being struck by lightning
  • 1 in 10 million chances of becoming U.S. president
  • 1 in 13.2 million chances of becoming an astronaut

Let’s look at it this way: You’re 176 times more likely to be struck by lightening, 17.6 times more likely of being elected president, and 13.3 times more likely of becoming an astronaut. Of course, the odds of winning are in your favor compared to becoming an astronaut who’s elected president and then is struck by lightening.

It’s kind of like that scene in the movie Dumb and Dumber when Jim Carry’s character expresses his affection for his love interest and asks, “What are my chances?”

“Not good,” she replies.

“You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?”

“I’d say more like one out of a million.”

“So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”

I’m telling you there’s a chance! And someone is probably going to win tonight when the winning ticket is pulled at 11pm eastern time.

Richard Lustig has won the lottery seven times and even wrote a book about it where he shares his secrets. He reportedly lets the machine pick the numbers every time.

What Would You Do With The Money?

If you won tonight’s lottery, what would you do with all that money?

Buy that sports care you’ve been dreaming about?

Purchase a small Caribbean island and declare yourself a sovereign country?

Travel around the world—over and over again?

$540 million! Of course, that’s before  uncle Sam gets a piece of the action.

Don McNay, author of the book “Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win the Lottery,” says nine out of 10 winners go through their money in five years or less.

This common malady  affects many sudden millionaires. Not long ago, NBA basketball star Allen Iverson declared that he was broke after earning over $200 million in his career. Sixty percent of all NBA players are reportedly broke within five years of retiring. Where does all that money go? You’d be surprised.

Easy come, easy go.

But all of this discussion about getting by on half a billion dollars reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:26, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (ESV)

The stories of people who gained the whole world and lost everything are legion.

Eventually, every winner needs to find a reason for living. A purpose. And spending all that money doesn’t meet the criteria. If anything, winning the lottery only exposes and accentuates the real person deep inside. The person you are before you win the money is the person you have to live with after you win the money.

Winning a boatload of money is nice. If it drifts my way, I’ll take it. But it isn’t the key to happiness or purpose.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. If he wins tonight’s lottery, he wants to form a foundation that plants neighborhood churches around the world. Incidentally, if you don’t have plans for Palm Sunday (April 1) or Easter (April 8) and you live in the Denver area, please join us at The Neighborhood Church.

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