Today I did something I've never done before: I bought a lottery ticket.
The advertised jackpot for Illinois' multi-state lottery is $280 million. The odds of winning are long, but nowhere near 280 million:1. Of course, the actual payout of the lottery is a good deal less than the nominal payout, but with interest rates in the sewer, the lump sum payout is still a quite respectable amount of cash. Comfortably more dollars than the number of possible sets of numbers, so if you naively forget the possibility of splitting the winnings across multiple winners, the statistical expected value of the winnings is more than $1. But that's not why I bought the ticket.
I bought the ticket for two reasons. It's enough money that I imagine I could actually make a difference in the world, and winning the lottery is the only way I can see that I could ever have that kind of money. So if there is some destiny or higher power that wants me to accomplish what I could with that money (not that I believe in such), I need to buy the ticket to let it work. But really, the reason for buying the ticket is that it gives me an excuse to write this journal entry about what I would do with the money if I did win.
First of all, if I won I would take the lump-sum payment. This is because if there even is a currency known as the United States dollar in 25 years (which is only a so-so bet) it is highly likely to have seen so much inflation that the annual payout is close to worthless.
I would take $5 million after taxes and set it aside for my personal support. This is intended to be enough money to (a) guarantee that I never have to work again, (b) buy me a place where I could live with tigers of my own, and (c) financially support keeping tigers, including hiring someone to help take care of them -- it's not something that one person living alone can be responsible for, even if they're willing to never leave home.
With the rest of the money, I would set up a charitable foundation. (Hopefully, the tax guy I hire will be able to arrange it so I don't have to pay taxes on the main chunk of the money.) The purpose of this foundation would be to try to insure the long-term future of the tiger and other large predators in the world, by protecting them in the wild, educating the public, and promoting responsible captive husbandry (by any person or organization capable of handling the animals properly, including private owners). It would concentrate on giving money to individuals and small projects doing real work on the ground, rather than making large grants to big bureaucratic national organizations. There would be a ton of details to work out, but this is the general outline. I need to go to bed soon, so I'll leave it at that for now.