Don't be silly, spend the money

Kevin Cowherd

July 17, 1992|By Kevin Cowherd

"We're going to buy a house, a boat, a Harley Davidson motorcycle and two new cars."

-- Mark Gaydos, who along with his wife Sherry won $4.8 million in Maryland's Lotto game.

The article about the newest lottery winners appeared in a roundup section of the local rag, and I read it expecting the usual claptrap about putting the money in the bank or saving it for the kids' college education blah, blah, blah.

This is the sort of nonsense that traditionally emanates from the mouths of lottery winners.

The TV lights click on and a lottery official hands them the ceremonial 4-foot check and they get this vacant, Stepford Wives look in their eyes as they intone: "How'll we spend it? Well, Emma and I will probably fix up the chicken coop in the back and put the rest of the money in some sort of retirement account."

Then I came across the wonderful quote above from Mark Gaydos and I thought: Finally. Here is the person I've been looking for. Here is a man who knows what to do with 4.8 million bucks, who will indulge himself, who will have some fun.

I'm telling you, it nearly brought tears to my eyes.

Gaydos' quote was especially refreshing because the first thing so many of these lottery winners say after hitting the big payoff is: "Well, the money won't change me."

This is an absolutely incredible statement, yet it's made all the time, with the same wide-eyed innocence normally found only in those under the age of 7.

All I can say is, you would notice a lot of changes in me if I won nearly 5 million bucks.

The first change you'd notice would be me laughing hysterically and guzzling champagne (which I don't even like) and swinging from the nearest chandelier for several days.

Soon you would notice other changes, such as the new Mercedes in the driveway and the "For Sale" sign in front of my house.

Another thing all these big-time lottery winners say is that they're going to keep their job.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard some guy who's just won $10 million say: "Oh, yeah, I'll be back at Mr. Tire first thing in the morning. I love my job. And I'd miss my friends if I quit."

When I hear this kind of talk, it takes all the willpower I have not to jump in the car, drive over to that person's house and bash a 2-by-4 over his head in the hope of bringing him to his senses.

Then I want to grab him by the lapels and say: "Listen, pal, if you're so hung up on tires, take some of that $10 million and buy yourself a Firestone dealership.

"That way you can be around tires all you want without having to pick up an air gun every day and break your back on the lug nuts of a '76 Mustang.

"Plus you won't be spending your days wondering: Is it the left rear rim that gets the new tire and the right front that gets the spare? Or vice-versa?

"As for missing your friends, look, with that kind of money, you can buy new friends. That's the whole point of friendship. Hell, I'll be your friend right now."

Let me tell you something. If I ever won 10 million bucks, my editors would see me sprinting out of the office with four pieces of Samsonite luggage and plane tickets to Martinique in my back pocket.

And that would be the last they'd ever see of me. Maybe I'd send a postcard, but I doubt it.

Happily, both Mark and Sherrie Gaydos are displaying uncommon good sense and retiring from their jobs, which collectively earned them around $45,000 a year.

It was also heartening to see that the Gaydos' will spend their money on cars, boats, motorcycles and the like, since so many of these big lottery winners insist on spending the money so sensibly.

Over and over, we hear these people chanting the same tired mantra: "Well, we're putting the money away for the kids' college education."

Tell me something: What the hell kind of attitude is that?! Lighten up! Buy a mansion or take a trip around the world. Or throw a big party -- and not the kind where people have to pass around the Cheez Whiz and pump the keg next to the ping-pong table.

Listen, you think the kids are worrying about you? You think they're over at the mall right now puffing Marlboros and shuffling through the video arcade with the rest of their green-haired friends and thinking: "Gee, I wonder if Mom and Dad have enough money to retire?" That'll be the day.

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