Too Much?

I see that the cash prize for the Powerball lottery is now $756.6 million — three-quarters of a billion dollars.  (And yes, I know the odds of winning are only an infinitesimal fraction higher than not winning — let’s ignore that for the moment, it’s a different discussion.)

My question is:  how would an individual’s life change if he were suddenly win an amount that large?  (Let’s also take the IRS Shylock out of the equation, and allow that about a third of that amount would be confiscated / stolen / appropriated by the FedGov — once again, a topic for another discussion.)  So you’re left with “only” half a billion dollars.

How do you spend that amount of money?

As a rich guy once said:  “When you have that much money, ownership becomes only a matter of time.” 

I have some serious misgivings about suddenly coming into wealth to that degree, because along with that all sorts of lifestyle changes come into play;  for example, you’d have to pay for a security service both for yourself and your family, but also for your house(s) and other property.

Some people would say, “Oh, I’d buy a small business and run it.”  Seriously?  You’d carry on working?  (One man of my acquaintance had an excellent take on it:  “I’d buy a minor-league baseball team and run it”, which actually makes a great deal of sense if you’re a baseball fan.  Forget pro league teams;  too expensive — even for a semi-billionaire — and too many headaches.)

Then there’s property.  In my own situation, I’d get a small condo / townhouse in the Dallas area, simply as a primary residence for tax purposes, and also because I’d be doing a lot of international travel, you betcha, and DFW airport is perfect for that.  I’d also want some kind of property (in a friendly state, i.e. not one with stupid gun- and tax laws) large enough for me to set up a small shooting range, where I could blast away with my somewhat errrr enhanced gun collection as often as I wished.  New Wife loves the New England coast, as do I, so a small beachfront property somewhere in Maine (see above for qualifications) would make a nice summer getaway.

Or would it?  Considering that you would only be there for the summer (Maine winters, nuh uh), would it not be better to find a decent hotel in somewhere like Boothbay Harbor and just use it as needed, thus eliminating the hassle of maintaining a place all year round?

The same is true with having a place outside the U.S. (Nassau, Bermuda, Monaco etc.).  Using Monaco as an example, you could stay in an oceanview suite at the Fairmont Hotel for a month each year for fifty-odd years, for the cost of a decent condo in the Principality.  Ditto London and the Ritz, Paris and the George V, and so on.  (Given my age, that strikes me as somewhat more appealing than just having a place to brag about.)

I don’t have any desire to own a boat or private jet, so forget that shit.  First-class accommodations, in almost any quantity, are cheaper than owning (and docking, crewing, and maintaining) a decent-sized yacht, and ditto a private jet and its associated costs.  I might be rich, but I ain’t a complete idiot.

In fact, I’m also at that stage of  my life where possessions are somewhat meaningless, because I figure that at best, I’d have proper use of them for about a dozen years before I croak.  So other than that BMW Z8, I probably wouldn’t have a serious car collection — maybe a vintage 1954 Merc 300 SC for nostalgia purposes, a “guns & groceries” car like a Merc G550… and that’s it.

All my adult life, I’ve had to own cars as utility vehicles — band equipment, family conveyance, etc. — so I’d like to indulge myself just a little.  Of course, there are other options — Dino 246GT (but no, because of the time it would spend with Tony The Scuderia Mechanic), the Eagle E-type Jag (2-year waiting list, nope) and so on.  My criteria for cars are simple:  they have to be reliable (capable of being driven every day without hesitation), and they have to be beautiful (the G550 gets a pass on that because it’s a utility vehicle).

By the way, those are also my criteria for guns.

As for other rich man’s hobbies:  I no longer drink wine in any quantity, so no wine collection, ditto  single-malt Scotch (although I would have a few different ones around, if only for variety’s sake).  So just the guns, and lots of time shooting.  I’d also be tempted to get a Class III FFL, just for convenience, and so I could track down and purchase a Steyr MP-34:

I might — repeat might — be tempted to fund a department at Hillsdale, but only for them, and provided that there was a tax advantage attached;  ditto a few scholarships (also only at Hillsdale — I’m not going to give money to any of today’s little Leninist think-tanks).  I might also be tempted into paying the Second Amendment Foundation a large one-time sum because Alan and his guys seem to be the only ones actually doing something about the Second Amendment.

Otherwise, the rest of the world could just fuck right off.

Forget charity.  I’m not a charitable person at the best of times, and one thing I’ve learned about all charities is that the people running them do a lot better than the intended recipients, so screw them all.

Finally, forget investments.  With that amount of cash in hand, I’d have no need to grow it nor even preserve it, given that dozen-year time limit.  (The family would already have been taken care of through trust funds, so if I were to die with a hundred dollars left in the checking account, that would be quite okay.  Also, no death duties — fuck the IRS, they already had their pound of flesh.)

Just to recap:  paying for all the above — family trusts included — would leave me with about a hundred million dollars unspent.

You see the problem?

And then there’s this guy — although it should be noted that he was a young ‘un when he won.


  1. Better to have a bunch of money to not know what to do with then to need money.

    Someone in California won. So that shithole state gets a bunch of tax money now. That sucks.

    Hopefully the winner isn’t a libtard.

    1. Considering probabilities, that is a vain hope.
      I think the winner is learning a thing or two about progressive tax rates for “the Rich”, although even with the rule of thumb to count half as going to taxes, $375 million still won’t make the winner feel rich (heh).
      Trusts are very important here, as is a good lawyer. If he can hold it anonymously, that’s even better, because otherwise he’ll never get swiped left again, even if he dressed and acted like Aqualung.

  2. If I won, first thing I’d do is change my phone number…

    Also, lump sum payouts are at record lows due to Bidenflation, interest rates, and the lottery folks gaming the numbers (increased from 20 year to 30 year to have larger overall prizes).

  3. This is actually a fun daydream we probably all think about from time to time. I know I do. I even buy a ticket once in a while on a lark. Never two, just one. It’s a lightning strike, after all, not an investment plan.

    Anyhoo, I agree with you about not wanting a boat or a plane, kinda silly when I wouldn’t get much use out of it. Would I fly first class when we travel? Absolutely, but no plane purchase. You can time share a jet if you really want to be stupid with your money.

    I’m not a car guy like you, so I’d keep my Toyota Highlander until it has the requisite 250,000 miles on it, but I would buy an Acura or Mercedes sedan to complement it, and not the top of the line Mercedes, either.

    I am a fairly generous sort, so I’d give $1,000,000 to each of my kids and their spouses so if they split there’s no squabbling over it. I’d give $1 million to a lot of friends (you included) just because. This blog has given me enough pleasure over the years that puts you in that category. I’d give $500,000 to each of my siblings and their spouses (same reason about squabbles) and all my neices and nephews.

    That done, I’d be happy in our current house we just did a lot of refurbishments, but I agree we may need a place with a good fence and upgraded security, cameras, bulletproof first floor windows, safe room, that sort of thing, but I don’t think I’d hire permanent security. I’d build a nice walk-in gun vault room, too, but I wouldn’t start a collection of new guns, just reload and shoot more with what I have.

    Then I’d, like you, donate a good chunk to Hillsdale and Grove City College, and the Mises institute, FEE, any group educating youngsters about anti-communism, and some 2A groups. I’d invest $20 million for myself, tThen I’d set up a foundation to combat anything Soros like with anti-Soros like and donate the rest of the money to that.

    At my age, that’s enough. We’d travel but not own another property unless it was, say, a modest log cabin in TN or something, nothing grandiose. Travel would be first class, but not tippy-top class, no $2,000 per night rooms for us.

    That’s it, I’d be happy. For a half-billionaire, I think those are modest goals, but enough for me. I’d feel silly with a jet, drinking $2,000 bottles of wine, and collecting stupid stuff.


  4. I’d buy several thousand acres in Montana and no one would ever see me again.

    On that acreage would be my Fort Knox home of course, and another for our sons fambly, and several large buildings to house my various “collections”. 1 building would be slammed with cherry picked muscle cars. Another would house thousands of guns and guitars. Another would be my workshop. And all would be linked by enclosed, heated and cooled, walkways.

    IOW, the “heaven on earth” we now live in would be greatly amplified and fortified. Yes, the whole thing would be escorted with an enormous “Trump Wall” around the entire perimeter with several open choke points with proximity sensor alarms for target practice.

  5. Land, somewhere remote, and an on-site infrastructure that would allow me to live off-grid indefinitely.

    Beyond that, I’d probably put a good chunk into medical research. Financing cures for old age, neurological disorders (homosexuality, sexual identity disorder, etc), and whatever other conditions I could try to fix that would trigger the Leftards.

    Not sure about financing the relatives. My brother would spend anything I gave him in short order. Might pay off his and the niece’s debts, but not so sure about anything more. My mom doesn’t really need more money as she’s saved well during her working life and is currently receiving handouts from Social Security (that’s to all the current taxpayers for financing her retirement!).

    Might also invest in SpaceX or try to get Musk to go in on a joint venture to design and build space-based infrastructure. I’d really like to retire to my own Bishop Ring habitat (, but that might not be feasible in the time I have left (unless the gerontology research paid off big time).

  6. Back in the day, when I was young and the lottery hit the record-breaking sum of 40 million, my brother and I were with some friends and the conversation turned to what cars we’d buy. Of course, being young, we talked about various supercars of the time. Eventually, one of our friends said “Really, though, what’s the use of having a car that will go 200 miles an hour? You’d never be able to drive it that fast.”

    My brother immediately said “I would. I’d be dead in a week.”

    As for myself, I think I’d find a 1969 Impala (my first car) and restore it.

    And then I’d drive it around my island.

  7. Although not as old (or as grouchy) as you, I also hear the clock ticking. So outside of a few vanity purchases (say, 1963 split-window Corvette) and finally a properly sized gun collection, I’m thinking property. Something specific that will pass on to the kids and grandkids. Something on the Gulf coast for fishing, something in the Hill Country/Foothills for pleasant spring/fall weather and the occasional hunting, and something with acreage (including a range) but close enough to some modern conveniences like restaurants for nice year-round living. A few other spots, maybe lake side properties, with little vacation cabins in places with low property valves and low population density. All properly stocked and equipped. I honestly have no desire to travel outside of CONUS, and prefer any travel within the CONUS to not be air, so will definitely need a good highway truckster – maybe the Ford F-250 King Ranch edition with all option boxes checked. That’s me, happy as a bee.

  8. This is one of my favorite thought exercises. Years ago, I read an article that talked about lottery winners and what happened after the windfall. Most of the winners were broke again in an average of 5 years. Uncontrolled spending, gifting, donations, etc. And poof, the money is gone or tied up.

    So, how do you take this amount of money and put it to work for you?

    First off, incorporate the family. Myself as CEO, my 2 kids as COO and CFO to fill out the required 3 officers according to Florida law. The money now becomes the financial kernel to make the corporation work. Put the 500 million into and investment account with a good interest return. Each month, take the earnings and divide it 50/50. Half gets rolled over and put back into the central fund. The other half is divided by 3 for salaries for the officers. Any major purchase must be approved by a vote of officers (2/3) and becomes property of the corporation and is listed as an assett. Officers are free to purchase whatever they want with their salary and becomes their personal property. Gifts to other family members and friends must also be voted on and approved by 2/3 vote. Any investment schemes, scams, snake oil salesmen must be approved by unanimous vote. Acquiring property/houses would be encouraged as land almost never loses value. Then hire a property management company to take care of the scut work.

    So how much would the corporate officers salaries be on interest income? I’m going to base this on the central fund being placed in various mutual funds earning an average rate of 12% annually (to make the math easy on me). That gives us a 1% monthly rate. 1% of $500,000,000 would be $5,000,000 per month (thats 5 million per month). Not too shabby. The basic plan could be changed as needed, but overall this is what I would do.

    1. OK, I still screwed up the math.

      1% of 500 million would be 5 million. Divided by 2 would be 2.5 million rolled over and 250 million as salary. 2,500,000 divided by 3 would be $833,330.00 per month . That sounds a lot more realistic.

      1. OK, if this is an example of my math skills, I’m definitely going to have to hire a really good accountant.

  9. 30 years ago when I was doing Tax Returns for H&R Block as a side gig I met one of the early Mass Lottery winners. He was a single guy who still lived at home with his mother. After he had paid off his Mother’s House and bought a new pickup truck, he was out of ideas of what to do with his money. He had a $ 4 million Dollar plus balance in his checking account, not even a savings account. I’m sure his local bank loved him. It was only a matter of time before somebody was going to relieved him of his “Problem”.

    But I also did an IT Project for a Downtown Boston Venture Capital Firm. The head of the operation Had a Private Jet that he used to commute to work. From September to May he lived in Fla at the Ocean Reef Club. ( A gated community of Multi million $ estates that occupies the entire east end of Key Largo. That’s what’s down the unmarked road that goes east when route 1 goes west after the Bridge to Key Largo. ) It also has a Private Airport capable of dealing with Mid sized Jets. That’s what private jets buy you. Time. He was in the office by 10 on Monday morning and back in in his house on the beach in Fla for dinner on Friday. During the week, the Jet was used to visit start-ups they had invested in.

    On the other hand, Warren Buffett famously wears a 20 year old Timex and lives in a modest house in Omaha. ( He does however ride around in one of his buddy Bill Gate’s Airplanes.)

    I guess I’m just going to have to wait another 6 months os so untill the jackpot gets big again.

  10. I’d do several things. I would throw some fundage to C&Rsenal to keep that fine product running

  11. It’s nice to dream but this is what I would do.

    Property: Lake house on lake Winnepasauke or however it’s spelled in NH. Another woods house with my range etc. I’d probably get an air BnB in Kentucky near the bourbon trail and hire some management company to manage it. I guess I’d need a place for milder winters too so I guess a beach house in Florida or just rent one.

    Family: I’d take care of some of them. emphasis on ‘some.’ Pay off their college debts maybe give them some dough for a moderate house.

    Cars: I’d get at least one or two non descript cars and trucks so that folks wouldn’t point to me in town saying there goes that multi millionaire lets bother him. I might need a old school Dodge Powerwagon or Unimog or something like that to drive around the property with the shooting range and hiking trails.

    Gun collection: I suppose I’d just start my own business, be my own best customer then sell the business.

    Book Collection: I’d finally have a room big enough to put my collection on shelves

    Art: Hello Frederic Remington type art.

    Search for some pictures of the library at John Adams’ house in Quincy MA for an idea of the library I’d build but the books would be what I like to read rather than collectible leather bound tomes. As for the house itself, something like Theodore Roosevelt’s house at Oyster Bay, NY. A farm like compound with a shooting range. I’d also build a guest house.

    Second Amendment Foundation, Girl and a Gun, Well Armed Woman, various state level gun rights groups and possibly some politicians would receive some contributions. Hillsdale is one of the few institutions of higher learning that would be considered for a donation. maybe i’d waste some money on some political campaigns.


  12. As I procured my morning coffee (and breakfast sammich, because the Kwik Trip was out of hard boiled eggs), I noticed that someone won last night. I haven’t checked my ticket yet; maybe it’s me. If it is, I may go into some kind of business that would amuse me but wouldn’t be terribly profitable. As Charles Foster Kane said of his newspaper, “I lost a million dollars last year and I’ll lose a million dollars this year and the year after that. At this rate I’ll be broke in…sixty years!”

    I could have a lot of fun doing something like that.

  13. I’m not sure I would change anything. I already eat as much as I like twice every day. I drink as much as I like. More food or drink would not be a good idea. I would keep driving my 2 old pickup trucks, because there is nothing on them a good man can’t fix in a day. I would continue to tip generously. I usually tip 100% of the bill, when we go out to eat, might occasionally tip even more. I might be a bit more generous when I visit small, rural churches for music and fellowship. In addition to cash in the plate, I might meet with the pastor and ask if he had any special project or activity in mind, and write out a check. I might try to be a bit more generous with some of my neighbors, but they are so fiercely independent it might create resentment. Resentment or not, I would have the roof replaced on our elderly widow neighbor’s house. Truth be told, I already won the lottery – born in the U.S.A. (south of the Mason Dixon line), retired military (1970-91), married to a wonderful woman who is also my best friend and battle buddy (we carry identical firearms, if one of us goes down, the other can use the firearm and ammo), and we share 3 beautiful dogs. There is no amount of money that could make my life any better.

  14. I’m married to a CPA (smartest thing I ever did), so the logistics of handling that money would be arranged with her and our attorney. Probably similar to what Ray proposed. Once that was done, I could easily spend a few million upgrading our house (we love our house and location, not going to move), buying some toys, etc. We aren’t flashy people, so we aren’t going to buy high-end supercars or anything. Some friends and family that I’m close to will get gifts of one form or another. There are some local charities and organizations that we are already involved with, and so we would add some financial support (with some guidelines and restrictions as appropriate). We would probably set up some scholarships at our local high school. There are some larger national groups we would support, including 2A and some very specific medical research groups. Again, that’s all few million. I would make a public announcement that we spent all the money and have just enough to live/retire on so people don’t think we are a bank to tap.
    Here is where it gets interesting. If I’m not working, I’ll need a hobby. I think what I would do is play politics but as a game. Given enough funds, I would be curious what sort of impact I could have. Not so much of “support candidate x”, but more of… could I make an impact? Could I help improve outcomes with a perfectly timed move? I would treat it like a game, with myself on one end of the board and the lefties on the other side. Could I buy a vote? Could I sway a reporter? Could I get a lackey into a position that could move the needle just a little? Can I influence the press? Could I leak some factual but embarrassing detail to destroy the career of a lefty? Those would all be fascinating things to find out. And here is the thing… I would document EVERYTHING (encrypted, secured, stored out of country, with appropriate if-I-die instructions) so that eventually I could write a tell-all book or make a documentary to share with the world. Just for fun. Every action, every rumor, every little bit of information I learned in the process. Just to expose everything the “elites” do to the world and piss them off. Maybe shine a light on everything for just a moment. I have no expectations that it would change anything… but can you just see the consternation on the faces of everyone involved? Oh, it would be wonderful. I don’t want to be a public face or name; I want to be in the shadows pulling strings. Just as a hobby.
    It would probably burn through a lot of money, but if it made the right type of impact at the right time… it would be worth it.

  15. Wise words and a useful reminder about aging. Got to disagree with you about investments vs cash, though: if you keep it all in cash it’s gone if the bank goes bust.

    I think the top jackpot hereabouts has been £180M – close enough.

    Put me down for a modest farmhouse somewhere with a modest wine cellar and a not-so-modest orchard (for cider) and a croquet lawn. Land Cruiser and Morgan for the cars. And then I’ll gallivant around the world. There’s just so much to see.

    Speaking of gallivanting, but at a much gentler pace, have you considered cruising?

    Yes, I’ll support my favourite causes, but I’m not going to stick my head too far above the parapet.

  16. I wouldn’t want a house that you can see from the street, and have a very obscure driveway.
    One of my coworkers said about twenty years ago that he wanted a place where he could shoot cans off his back porch without disturbing the neighbors. That seemed like a good thing to me.
    I’d definitely unass Commifornia. A semi-underground bunker type house would be cool, perhaps the house in Electric Horseman, but perhaps simplicity would be the best, with the visible part being a log house with a breezeway or an alcove in between two rooms.
    I like my library, but I am burned out on home maintenance, so simple stuff would be attractive to me.

  17. I would try to but the rights of several books I’m fond of that haven’t made it to eBook form, and have that done. Not to make money, but to make some out of print treasures available to others.

    Eric Frank Russel’s THE RABBLE ROUSERS would be first. Non-fiction, numerous accounts of mob behavior, including the Dreyfus case, and the Florida land boom.

    The rest I would stick in an annuity. I’m 62. I don’t need adventures, I don’t drive well enough to justify a classic car, and I like where I am.

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