Hey, sometimes life gives you fortune — twice


Who wouldn’t want an extra $25,000 a year? For life.

Well, to be fair, it’s for 20 years, but the name of the game hosted by the Massachusetts Lottery is “Lucky for Life,” so let’s stick with the “life” concept for now. Besides, none of us really know when that final curtain will drop, so 20 years might indeed be a factual statement. In fact, if I could sign a contract right now that guaranteed me another 20 years and...

But I digress.

Regardless, what would your reaction be if you found out your numbers literally came in, and you could either take that $25k every year for “life” or accept a one-time, post-tax number of $273,000? If you’re Kenneth Stokes, of Norwood, Mass., you got the opportunity to figure that out for yourself recently, as Stokes indeed discovered he had found directions to Easy Street, via that state’s lottery system.

Understandably excited with the news, Stokes was even more happy when he was on the phone with lottery officials and heard that someone else from his hometown also had a winning ticket. Heck, it didn’t change his winning amount. The more the merrier, right?

As he began to come back down to reality a little bit, another thought entered his mind. His family, knowing that Stokes enjoyed playing the lottery, had gotten him a season pass for the “Lucky for Life” drawing — with the same lucky numbers he had played on the ticket he purchased for himself.

“He called back and it all came together when he was like, ‘I’m that guy in Norwood,,” said Christian Teja, director of communications for the Massachusetts Lottery, via a story from Yahoo News.

So, instead of just hitting one significant lottery, Kenneth Stokes has found himself doubling up to a nice check worth $546,000.In addition, Stokes mentioned in an article that he has been working the same job for more than 20 years, so he only has a few years left before he can retire.

I’m going to assume retiring just got a whole lot easier.

Of course, being the fan of metaphorical trainwrecks that I am, I kept reading into the story, waiting for that little nugget that’s always hidden at the end of these lottery-winner articles — how is this person going to spend the loot?

The reason I laugh at these is because the response is typically one of three options:

• The first is that the winner says he or she is going to continue working, donate a huge chunk to charity and put the rest into savings or investments. I firmly believe that this answer is often delivered with the best of intentions. I do. However, if you’ve ever read one of those articles on what happens to lottery winners down the road, or seen any of these stories on television, the winners seem to always understimate how many people come out of the woodwork looking for start-up capital to fund big-idea businesses or investments. Plus, even if people don’t pop up out of the mothballs of your life, it takes an awful lot of restraint to not go a little crazy with all that money when it’s thrust upon somebody. And restraint isn’t often a calling card of those who regularly participate in the lottery.

• The second response I often read is that the person is going to quit working, but buy a small piece of property somewhere remote and just live a comfortable life without the headaches. You know, change every part of how that person has lived to that point and just become a hermit in the mountains. For instance, I can totally see our own Tom Maglio winning the lottery, packing up his bag of hair care, exfoliants, toe moisturizers and beauty masks and hitting the Ozarks to live off the proverbial grid.

• The third response that typically appears in these stories is that the person is quitting his or her job the next morning, buying a limo and taking every friend or relative that person has ever met to Vegas for a week of debauchery and behavior that would make Caligula feel like a prude.

These are my people.

It’s people like these who make those “what has happened to lottery winners” stories so much fun. They line their homes in solid gold, buy courtside seats for Cleveland Cavaliers games and hire Hilton sisters to show up at their Groundhog Day parties. It’s a five-year ride of room service, private jets and jewels that would make Elizabeth Taylor purr, and they take their friends and loved ones along for the ride.

And in five years they hold a massive auction to sell off their belongings, retreat back into the coldness of reality and take whatever money is left to the convenience store to buy another lottery ticket.

But you have to admire their adventures, if nothing else.

As for Stokes, he appears to have a somewhat realistic plan for his double winnings. He said he will retire in a few years, pay off his son’s college tuition and daughter’s car payments, and ultimately take a nice vacation with the family.

Now that sounds like a winning plan.