Yep, just like everybody else in Charlotte and everybody else in North Carolina and everybody else in America, I am buying my ticket before Saturday. In case you just got back from outer space, or live under a rock or have been holed up in a bird sanctuary in rural Oregon, I’m talking about the lottery.
But not just any lottery. I’m talking about the Powerball Jackpot. And not just any old Powerball Jackpot. As Fred Sanford used to say, “This is the big one!” The Big Kahuna. The Big Lebowski. The Big Enchilada. Or is that the whole enchilada? Anyway, you know the one I’m talking about. Lots of dollars. Beaucoup dollars. Need I say it? 700 MILLION DOLLARS.
Like everybody else, I’ve spent hours dreaming about what I’d buy with the money — when (not if) I win it. That new Tesla? Just a pittance of my new fortune. Backstage passes to the next Avett Brothers New Years Eve concert for 20 of my closest friend? Barely scratches the surface of my bulging bank account. A new mansion on Town Mountain Road in Asheville with spectacular sunset views? Consider it done.
But like many Charlotteans, I have a generous streak a mile wide. Like so many in this community, we volunteer when we can. We donate to charities. We do nice things for people without expecting anything in return. So after a few minutes, I woke up from my hedonistic daydreams and started feeling guilty about the selfish whims that I’d satisfy with my newly won fortune. So I turned my attention to my adopted community and started thinking about how I could spend my largess for the public good.
Here’s what I came up with.
(10) Make sure every kid in Charlotte has gifts for Christmas. Not just kids who celebrate Christmas, but every kid. Especially the kids who feel like the holiday season doesn’t apply to them.
(9) While it may be a little late to accommodate everyone this year, I’d buy a Panthers game ticket for any kid who wanted one. If basketball is your thing, you can see the Hornets play a game. Or if you like hockey, you’ve got a Checkers seat. Or if you like the Charlotte Roller Girls…you get the picture.
(8) I’d pay for a day during the summer when every school-age kid could do something he or she has always wanted to do but never had the opportunity. Go fishing? I’ve got your rod and reel ready. Ride a horse? I’ll help you up into the saddle. Take a ride in an airplane? Your seat is ready and waiting
(7) I’d give every teacher in in the Char-Meck area a raise. Just because they darn well deserve a raise for the hard work and dedication that they put in every single day.
(6) I’d donate money to hire more workers to get the light rail done faster. We all deserve that.
(5) And not forgetting our friends in the northern suburbs, I’d contribute some of my loot to kick-start the light rail construction up I-77. Lord knows you folks in the North need some public transportation to relieve traffic congestion in the worst way.
(4) Moving on to our elderly population, I’d contribute money to programs that help to encourage older members of our community to remain active and valuable contributors to our community fabric.
(3) I’d donate money to help promote the thankless services provided by The Mens’ Shelter of Charlotte, Urban Ministries and other worthwhile programs helping the homeless people struggling to live in our city.
(2) I’d help fund the dedicated, hard working, under the radar community health centers in our city. Because they’ve spent decades serving the underserved – long before Obamacare came along.
(1) My last wish is a little self serving. It’s been my own personal pipe dream since I moved to Charlotte 12 years ago. But in the spirit of goodwill, I’d be willing to share it with the whole city. First, I would pay to put all the traffic on I-277 into underground lanes. Just like they’ve done on Lower Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago. Then I would convert all of the current structure of I-277 into the world’s largest elevated park. Just like the Highline in New York — only bigger and better. Can you picture it?
I pretty sure that my $700 million would be spent long before I accomplished all of these goals. But a guy can dream, can’t he??