Monday Morning Question: Jackpot!

Since our first Monday  Morning Question worked so well, let’s try it again.

For a few years, whenever the lottery jackpot got high enough that we began hearing about it on the news, my Patient Husband and I would buy a lottery ticket.

We understood there was no chance of winning, but we counted it into the entertainment budget. Specifically, we would entertain ourselves up until the lottery numbers were called (and we lost) by budgeting our lottery winnings and deciding exactly how to allocate our new vast fortune. We considered this fun to be well worth a dollar, since for an eighth the price of a movie it lasted at least ten times as long as a movie and was more realistic than most of them.

We always started by removing taxes from the jackpot, and then invariably the next obvious choice was either to buy a home or to pay off the home we were living in. Then we’d pay off our parents’ homes and siblings’ homes and stash away money in a college fund.

By this point, we’d have taken care of most material needs for our families and could have fun. We’d frequently imagine this conversation:

Me: Hey, Father K? What did you say the parish debt was again?

Father K: Oh, {amount they’ll be paying off for ten years.}

Me: Will you take a check?

Or showing up at the Angeltown Food Pantry and saying, “So, we were wondering if you could tell us your operating budget for the next year? Okay, here’s ten times that.”

So here’s your Monday Morning Question: assume the above scenario where you’ve won a stupidly large amount of money, and after taking care of your family’s material needs and your tax responsibility, you’re left with ten million dollars.

What do you do with it? How and where do you spend it? Invest it? Donate it? Do you open a wing of a museum? Found a hospital? Start a corporation? Retire immediately? Drill wells for clean water in third world countries? Fund research into travel to Mars?

The checkbook is in your hands. What are you going to do?


  1. Koneko

    First, I would invest half of it. Then I would retire immediately and make the rest of my granny and pop’s life comfortable, since they were so wonderful to me for my entire life. The same would be applied to my husband, my siblings, and my best friends. I am responsible in regards to money, and we are not people who would want to get limo’s or something outrageous, or take baths in champagne. Nothing like that, just your standard big-screen TV we’ve always wanted and a fast new computer.

    Whatever profit I turn out investing and the rest, I’d consider whatever the best options are to help the less fortunate. I grew up in a poor home, and would like to help out those who were like I. I would definitely put some funding into orphanages, teen homes, and halfway houses.

  2. Mika

    Donate to our church building fund and establish a maintenance account (our parish is 25 years old and still we don’t have a “real” church building – just a multi-purpose cinderblock building), start a foundation to provide grants/scholarships/funding for families of children with extraordinary health problems, donate to the Children’s Miracle Network, Ronald McDonald House and The Children’s Inn at NIH.

  3. Dogzard

    I’m pretty selfish, I guess. Most of my immediate thoughts weren’t about doing something for someone else, it was about doing something for me and my family. I’d finish my MBA, then take a year off to intern at a company (possibly publishing, possibly a start-up), and then go off and start my own company, based on what I’d learned. I’d also want to pay for a trip for my whole family (both sides!) to go somewhere warm, like FL, and just all be able to relax together. I wouldn’t just give people money, I don’t think; I love my family, but I don’t know how they’d react to the idea of being given money as we’re all pretty proud and independent.

    Whatever’s left over, I’d invest half of it, and use the interest to live off of. The other half I’d use to create a foundation to help with graduate schooling, since that seems to be more and more necessary.

  4. Ivy

    Step 1: Retire.

    Step 2: Set up a safe home for abused children. If possible, set the funds up in an interest bearing/bond funded account that could allow it to run off the interest/dividends indefinitely.

    Step 3: Set up a similar interest bearing/bond funded account to keep Jews for Judaism well-funded indefinitely.

    Step 4: If there is anything left over, buy qiviut or vicuna yarn, enough for a shawl, and have a blast knitting it up.

  5. Cricket

    You said the $10 million is after taking care of family material needs and taxes,…

    All of this will be endowment funds. Use the interest, not the investment.

    Taxis. Not private, uniformed chauffeurs at an instant’s call, but someone I can book to drive me for a late night at storytelling one city over. Also someone for my parents and brother’s area, since driving often limits what they can do. My brother had to drive 2 hours round trip four times a week for a five minute treatment — really wiped him out. My SIL takes weekend upgrading courses at a school five hours away. Make them available for the people who drive wheelchairs along the edge of the road in winter, and driving to appointments at distant specialists. Encourage sharing rides, and arrange it so you have a nice place to wait while your ride buddy has their appointment.

    Special ed assessment and services. Someone who will work with the family and school to come up with a plan and carry through on it. I hear so often that parents can’t get the help they need from the school, and private’s expensive. Private say do one thing, school either disagrees or can’t afford it (and tell some other story). Parent caught in the middle, and it’s worse if they feel the experts are on the school’s side. Yes, horror stories make better telling, but I’d like to catch them before they become horror stories, and a lot of it is funding.

    Local outdoors ice rinks. We need more volunteers. Add shelters so we can get skates on and off out of the wind.

    Upgrade our cottage to fully winterized and put a sloped roof on the boathouse. Purely selfish. Fully R2000, sound proof, some flexibility in walls in bedroom wing.

    Fix the soundproofing between rooms in the house. More suitable shelving so it’s easier to put things away. (Someone to spend an hour or two a week cheerleading while we purge.)

    The Guide Camp I grew up at gets money for the junior leaders. Training, socializing, and scholarships. Decent pay. Even in 1985, $70/week for a residential camp wasn’t much. Some friends had to choose between helping at camp and paying for school.

    Take over if Linemar stops their program for taking school kids to the theatre. Each kid goes twice a year to the big theatre, for a 45 minute show.

    Teachers salaries. The local union messed themselves up this year, by refusing the pre-recession package. Raises are usually by percentages, so if they take a lower percentage this time, and next time, it will add up. Keep them on a par with the other local boards, with adjustments for local cost of living. At least look into it. I only hear the competing sound bytes.

    School buildings (and busing as needed). Make one for grades 6/7/8. They’re saving money by keeping them in the neighbourhood schools, but they didn’t add lockers or suitable library books, or the specialty classrooms. Proper location would minimize bussing. The current schools are all over capacity anyways.

  6. CelticGemini

    I think I would give a bunch of money to Sidelines, which is a support group for women who are on bedrest due to high-risk pregnancies, run by women who have been there before. I also think I would help out the March of Dimes, to help their research into the causes of premature birth. And if there’s something our local NICU needs to support the families who come through there, I’d like to help with that too.

    And finally, I would like to fund research into the disorder that caused my pre-term labor, in the hopes of developing a screening test for the disorder.

  7. Capt Cardor

    I would use the money to fund an endowment which would establish and maintain a school for the study of Antonin Dvorzak’s music at some major university or college.

    I feel his music speaks to my place in life better than any other composer and he definitely is the most underrated composer in the classical pantheon.

    Weird, but true…LOL

  8. Jason Block

    Yes I would retire and invest. But I have certain people who I know who have it a lot worse than I do that I would help out.

    I have a few friends who I would definitely help out get on their feet.

    I would travel to Japan, which has been a dream of mine.

    I would establish a scholarship at Stony Brook University in the name of my late friend Dana Bragin who died of Brain Cancer. Then someone who needed it would go to school and cure this evil disease.

    On a personal selfish level, I would like to play in the World Series of Poker, and invest in an independent wrestling promotion. I also would like to help friends by starting a production company.

  9. fwtallgirl

    After paying off the house and getting me & hubby 100% out of debt?

    – Set up generous college funds for my son and for each of the nieces & nephews.

    – Buy a house for my mother, then set up a fund large enough that she can leave Medicaid and Food Stamps and all their bureaucratic hoops behind for the rest of her life.

    – Donate to select causes: children, homeless, teens, domestic violence, breast cancer, etc. Programs that do God’s work without necessarily being tied to churches.

    One thing I wouldn’t do is quit my job. I like working too much. What I might do, though, is cut back on the number of hours I work and take more vacation time to let myself travel periodically.

  10. Wendy


    I have one credit card and my car to pay off. After that, I’d pay off Mom’s mortgage and invest in some home improvements for the bungalow. I’d pay off my dad’s place and buy my brother the means to rebuild his house into something large enough for him and his family. After that:

    1. I would invest, retire on the interest, and be on a plane to Tokyo so fast it’d make my own head spin. And I’d stay there until I’d had enough of the place.

    2. I’d travel. Europe, Africa, Australia…

    3. I’d invest in a modest two-bedroom house near an airfield and get a used Cessna Skyhawk.

    4. I’d set up funds for Big Cat Rescue and St. Francis Society as well as the ASPCA and Furry Friends Rescue in California (where I used to volunteer). I’d like to see St. Francis Society get a brick-and-mortar facility that could house both cat and dog kennels and possibly employ our Cat Care Coordinator full time.

    5. I’d take lots of art classes.