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500 MILLION DOLLARS: Record-setting lottery on horizon

March 29, 2012


COLUMBIA CITY — In January, one lucky winner walked away with a Mega Millions prize of $72 million. The pot has since then grown considerably.

On Friday, an estimated record-setting $500 million will be up for grabs across 42 states and Washington, D.C.

To win, a ticket holder will have to defy 176 million-to-1 odds. That is roughly 15,000 times the odds of bowling a perfect 300, or 260 times the odds of winning an Olympic medal. A person is 14 times more likely to become an astronaut. In somewhat of an unnerving statistic, there is a 1.5 million times better chance a person can be on an airplane flown by an intoxicated pilot.

On a more promising note, there is a 2,000 times better chance of dating a supermodel. On a not-so-uplifting note, the odds of being murdered are nearly 9,800 times that of walking away with Friday’s jackpot.

The odds are 305 times greater of being hit by lightning. However, someone who is struck is only 80 times as likely to die from a strike.

In the event a lucky gambler does hit all five numbers and the mega-ball, then what? What can someone do with $500 million?

There are some things $500 million won’t do for you. It won’t help you crack the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list, or be enough to purchase prominent professional sports team such as the Detroit Tigers or Dallas Cowboys. It can’t get you a green jacket at The Masters Championship and it can’t guarantee you membership into New York’s Friar’s Club.

Fortunately, the list of things you can’t do with $500 million is a relatively short one compared to the virtually endless possibilities of what $500 million can buy.

There is the obvious stuff — a home, or two, or three, either built from scratch or purchased with no need for financing approval. You can drop a couple million dollars on a nice car ­­— perhaps an Aston Martin ($1.8 million) or a Bugatti ($2.4 million). If a plane is more your taste, buy one — or 10. Friday’s potential lottery winner could invest at will, or take a global vacation.

Once a family’s future is secured and the typical purchases are out of the way, the real fun can begin; finding the things you’d never think of, could never afford and certainly don’t need.

There are less than 60 known T206 Honus Wagner baseball cards in existence. The card, given out with cigarettes by tobacco companies in the early 1900s, was pulled by Wagner, who reportedly did not want to promote smoking. The most recent sale of the card brought $1.27 million.

Andy Warhol’s famous silver wig, should the owner ever choose to sell, would likely cost at least $11,000.

In 1726, Henry Somerset, the third duke of Beaufort, commissioned the Badminton Cabinet. The cabinet took 30 craftsman six years to build out of ebony, gilt-bronze and pietra dura. The cabinet has sold several times, most recently for $36 million.

City and county officials and residents, along with some out-of-state ticket holders chimed in Wednesday on what they may do with the money, or what their first purchase would be were they to receive the $359 million cash payout. The remaining $140 million would of course go straight to Uncle Sam in taxes.

• “Pay off my debt, and help out the family. Provide for future generations in the Snelling family. ...and then I would buy a Ferrari.” — Mike Snelling, Whitley County tax deputy.

• “Well, I’d hand it over to my wife because we all know it’s really her money anyway, then hope for a meager allowance.” — Garrett McClellan, Ohio resident.

• “Some would go to the department. Family and friends would retire with me. The rest would go in the bank so my wife and kids would never have to worry... and you’d probably never hear from Tom LaRue again.” — Tom LaRue, Columbia City fire chief.

• “What would I really do with that money? Easy. Batcave. Right underneath stately Duane Manor” — Duane Mitchell, Michigan resident.

• “You gotta put most of it away but I think to start, you have to spend 10 percent of it. But no jets, wouldn’t buy a jet. Nothing that requires maintenance that is going to bankrupt me in 10 years. Plenty of nice cars, though. Then invest a lot of it and put a lot of it towards charity.” — Eric Carter, Columbia City resident.
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