By Meagan Stilp
HOUGHTON - Every good Barenaked Ladies fan knows that if you had a million dollars you'd be rich.
But what if you had $19 million?
Earlier this week, one lucky local lady found herself facing that reality when she won the lottery from a ticket purchased at Festival Foods in Houghton. Which got me daydreaming about what I would do with that much money. What would that even be like?
The most money I have ever won is $3 from a scratch-off ticket. I will tell you right now that it did not take me long to decide to spend that on a Diet Coke and a king-size Reese's. Multiplying that win by $6.3 million is almost unfathomable. Luckily my many hours of daydreaming have led to an easy-to-follow plan of attack for all hopeful future lottery winners, if we choose to accept it. Remember that in daydreams, taxes do not exist.
Step 1: Be a good person and donate at least $1 million to a charity or charities. As a type I diabetic I would be a little selfish and throw the majority of that to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, with a respectable chunk going to the Make-A-Wish foundation. I would also probably cut a check to my college newspaper, the Badger Herald, for trusting me with the design of the paper.
Step 2: Pay off all bills. Say goodbye to student loans, that pesky car loan and the Christmas credit bills that won't go away.
Step 3: Celebrate! Since I'd have some cash to burn, I would start by heading down to the DT on a Friday night and buying a round for the bar, and then pay off everyone's tab for the night. As a Wisconsin native, I would also feel obligated to provide everyone with endless fried-cheese curds for the evening, possibly flown in from my favorite Madison restaurant, the Old Fashioned.
Now step three would probably last for a while. I mean, I just won the lottery. My family and friends would expect a soiree unlike any other. I would buy my parents, Grampee and siblings all sorts of ridiculous presents and treat my friends to dinners, drinks and tickets to shows.
Step 4: Invest! Because steps 5 - 7 are going to drain the majority of what winnings remain.
Step 5: Buy a house. Or maybe two. Or maybe an island! I grew up spending summers in South Carolina and I love the ocean, so I would find myself some beachfront property. I also spent a semester studying in Florence, Italy, so I would look for a residence in Tuscany. The possibilities are nearly endless. Wherever my house was located, I would want three things: a fireplace, a library and a dishwasher.
Step 6: Travel! I love traveling, and being able to afford a first-class ticket could only enhance the experience. I want to visit too many places to even begin to list them, and I think the only way of deciding would be to pin a world map to the wall and throw darts at it - all the while crossing your fingers that the dart never hits North Dakota.
Step 7: Treat yo' self! Do something that makes you happy. For some people that might mean a spa day and a shopping spree - for others a realistic Batman costume. For me, it might be a supremely nerdy early edition of Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales."
Step 8: Return to the real world. Keep the house (or island), frame the pictures from your many adventures and come home. Accruing so much money in an instant could be dangerous. I imagine it would be extremely difficult to stay grounded and focus on what is truly important. So have some fun, and then come back to reality. Still treat your friends and families to the occasional treat, but go back to work and appreciate how lucky you were to win.
I guess you could also buy a fur coat, but not a real fur coat. That's cruel.