If I Win the Powerball Lottery Jackpot

Suzanne Cowden

We only buy lottery tickets when the jackpot tops $300 million. If we’re going to win, we’re going to win like we mean it. Since it doesn’t often tip this mark, we rarely buy tickets. Lately, though, the jackpot keeps rolling over, and we’ve found ourselves caught up in lottery madness. We’ve probably bought more tickets in the last couple of weeks than we have in years.

Of course we know we’re not going to win. The odds of being struck by lightning three times – probably in the same exact spot balancing on one foot and singing an aria each time – are better than winning the lottery, making it silly, ridiculous, even, to play. But that swelling jackpot keeps calling, and we keep answering by paying two dollars a pop to pencil in our six lucky numbers that will, most probably, never change our lives.

We’re fortunate to have resources to live comfortably, but we’re not extravagant by any means. Picturing that jackpot as ours lets us imagine what it might feel like to have enough money to do whatever we want, whenever we want. We don’t normally talk about living beyond our means, about wishing we have things that we just can’t afford, but when we buy a lottery ticket, until we haven’t won, we suddenly do so with abandon. We can pretend we’re suddenly rich beyond our wildest dreams and discuss, at length, how we’ll enjoy our windfall.

Our kids would have us on the first plane heading toward Disneyland, with Mickey bars, cotton candy, and churros for everyone we meet. When we return, Eliza would get the hedgehog she’s sure would make a perfect pet, and Tessa would pick out the kitten she’s been wanting. Tessa generously suggested that we buy a whole extra house to turn into a kitchen for all of my baking projects. My husband would buy an airplane and set up a workshop with all the fancy tools he’s ever wanted.

Me? I’d add a second bathroom to our house and then maybe buy another house in Friday Harbor, WA, and one in Monterey, CA, so we could spend as much time in these places that we love – mostly because we have great friends there.

Last week, out of nowhere, Eliza moved from talking about fun things to do for our family to how we could use the money to help others. When we asked what she felt would make a difference, she suggested building a hotel to help homeless people, one complete with services to help them turn their lives around.

This game of let’s pretend has helped me realize that I’ve actually already won the best kind of lottery. My family is healthy and safe. We have enough to eat, and we eat well, even. We live in a small house, but one that’s comfortable and in a neighborhood with great schools. While we’ve faced our share of challenges associated with raising kids, we’re a close family, and we enjoy spending time together. We’re lucky enough to live near parents who love us and who are part of our lives. We’ve been lucky, too, to have made many friends over the years, some of whom we now count as family.

We’re lucky in all that we have. I think my kids know it, too, as evidenced by the fact they wanted to share their good fortune with others readily, unlike us, the selfish parents who thought only of making our own lives more comfortable.

Haters will say that buying a lottery ticket is like burning two dollar bills just to watch them go up in flames. I’d say that spending two dollars for hours of fun and a heart full of gratitude is money well spent.

And if — against all odds — we somehow really end up with a spare $1.5 billion, we’ll certainly put it to good use. We’ll put the kids in charge.

This post was written by Suzanne Cowden exclusively for BonBon Break Media LLC.

Suzanne Cowden focuses on food as centerpiece for both everyday routines and special occasions. Each recipe featured on Flour Arrangements, from simple loaves of bread to fondant decorated birthday cakes, comes with a story that blends life with cooking. Suzanne lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughters.