The $25,000 Man 7 Years Later

Today is an anniversary that is commemorated by the Reser brothers. Seven years ago on December 11, 2010, my brother, Glen, hit a major jackpot at a seedy bowling alley casino in Spokane, Washington. On a cold and snowy night, his stroke of luck won him $25,000 on the spot. He was 21 years old at the time.

After Glen won the $25,000, we went to Vegas a few days later. This is him at the original O’Sheas playing some Blackjack.

I usually mark this anniversary by sharing on social media the blog post I wrote about the crazy night. Although over six years old and terribly written, this particular piece of content is one of the most viewed blog posts in the history of Don’t Blink. The piece chronicles the pandemonium that took place at Lilac Lanes when Glen hit it big, along with the shenanigans and gross mismanagement of money that immediately ensued.

I also commemorate the anniversary by either calling or texting Glen and asking him how much of that money is left? The question is always expressed with a heavy dose of sarcasm because practically every cent of that jackpot was sucked dry before the first anniversary ever came around.

But perhaps that sobering fact shouldn’t be met with much surprise. I mean honestly, what 21-year-old is going to make sound decisions with a large sum of money?

I am not here tonight though to poke fun at Glen or detail how the money was spent/lost. Rather, I just want to put in perspective the amount of money that was won while also reinforcing a point I have made in an earlier blog post.

Last night, Sidney and I watched “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” The grand prize was $10,000. The family that took home the top honor on that particular episode celebrated as if it was a life changing event (I would have too!!). Now, contrast that with some kid winning 2.5X that amount just for being dealt some cards.

At the time seven years ago, both Glen and I had no idea how much of a gift and blessing that amount of money was. Let me try to explain that better. We knew it was a lot of money but we didn’t appreciate it. We had no idea how it could come in handy in the future when we eventually graduated to the status of responsible adults.

(I say “we” because Glen was generous to me with his winnings and, looking back on it, I encouraged him to make one or two not so good decisions with his loot. I hold myself accountable for contributing to the squandering).

If Glen strolled into Lilac Lanes tonight and defied all the odds and won that fat jackpot again, you can bet things would be a little different. That money would stretch a little longer.

But, it is my hope that Glen doesn’t set foot in a gambling venue. Over the years, I have come to believe that gambling is a destructive activity, especially for the younger population. I feel it cultivates a distorted view of money, one that can potentially have long term consequences. Although a gambler once myself, I now identify more with the anti-casino stance.

Yes, the story from seven years ago is still a great one. Honestly, read my blog post, it will take you for a ride. But winning money is so much different from earning it, especially when you are young. Looking back on the episode from 2010, as hard as some might have trouble believing it, I don’t think it was the best thing that ever happened. Don’t Blink.

Mixed Feelings on Mega Millions

Earlier this week the nation got wrapped up in the second biggest Mega Millions jackpot in history. With $636 million at stake, lottery fever infected many of my friends and family. No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape the constant media coverage about the outrageous amount of money up for grabs.

I don’t play the lottery. I take one look at the 1 in 258.9 million odds and don’t even bother. I don’t need to be told the unrealistic, crazy, outlandish events that are more likely to happen to me than winning Mega Millions. That 1 in 258.9 million line stands alone. Enough said.

Don’t be offended by me if you get excited by playing the lottery but I find games like Mega Millions incredibly boring. You purchase a ticket, let it collect dust for a couple days, and then check your phone or newspaper to see if you won. Many times the numbers you chose aren’t even in the same solar system as the winning numbers. Quite often, there isn’t even a winning ticket sold. Why try to win a prize when there is a good shot that the prize won’t even be awarded?

I have people close to me who have defied the odds and actually won jackpots. My brother won a $25,000 jackpot on a card game (and managed to squander it all in about a year) and my great uncle once won a sizeable chunk of cash in a local and much smaller lottery game. But these events don’t entice me at all to play Mega Millions. I think with my brother and uncle already collecting on large sums of money and beating the odds, they have removed any and all chances that anyone in my bloodline will ever get lucky again. Besides, the odds that my brother and uncle overcame pale in comparison to what it would take to win Mega Millions. I am pretty sure that the chances are greater for them to win their respective jackpots fifteen more times in 2014 on the same fifteen days of that year than the chances are of ever producing the winning Mega Millions ticket. And by the way, my great uncle is dead.

I don’t understand why people will wait in long lines for hours on end to purchase these tickets either. Or I don’t understand why people pull their hair out trying to come up with the numbers they will choose. Or I don’t understand why people throw away $100 on something that is less likely to happen than getting struck by lightning four different times in a day.

However, I must admit that this week I actually heard a sane reason for purchasing a Mega Millions lottery ticket. While watching a news report they talked to a lady who walked up to a convenient store counter and simply purchased a ticket. She wasn’t wearing a ridiculous lucky hat, she didn’t spend her whole paycheck, and she didn’t harass the worker on if the ticket would be a winner or not. She was just a normal person participating in Mega Millions. When the reporter asked her why she plays, she responded in this way:

“Because it lets me dream.”

You know what? I can live with that. I can understand that. To close your eyes and to think about winning that jackpot or to make the time go faster while traveling this holiday season and think about what you would do with $600+ million dollars is legitimate. It is a fun fantasy and a good way to escape. Even though I am still too cheap and realistic to fork over the cash for a ticket, I would say that the $1 price that people pay to dream is worth it. There are too many negative things in this world that we can allow to overtake our minds. Even though it is the long shot of all long shots, I can’t overly criticize something that gives someone else a little bit of relief from the rigors of life. Don’t Blink.