If you don't like Hawaii, you can't win the lottery

MIKE ROYKO

January 06, 1993|By MIKE ROYKO

Mike Royko is on vacation. During his absence, one of hi favorite columns is being run. This was originally published Sept. 4, 1984.

When the winning lottery numbers were announced on TV, there was moaning and swearing up and down the bar. But Herbert took it calmly. He shrugged and said, "Unlike these fools, I was absolutely certain I wasn't going to win."

But how could you be sure? Anybody with a ticket has a chance.

"No, that isn't true. I don't know how it's done, but somehow things are rigged so that certain people can't win. People like me."

What do you mean, people like you?

"We have certain characteristics."

Such as?

"Well, let's start with Hawaii. I don't like Hawaii. I would never consider going there."

So?

"So this. About half the people who win a big lottery say the same thing: They're going to use some of their winnings for a vacation in Hawaii. Never Paris or a villa near Rome. Never Martha's Vineyard or Palm Springs. It's always Hawaii. Why do people who suddenly get rich want to fly thousands of miles to eat a pig cooked in a hole in the ground?"

An interesting question.

"Yes, and another reason I don't qualify is that I don't have a sister in California."

What does that have to do with it?

"The ones who don't go to Hawaii usually say they are going to use their winnings to visit their sister in California. How's that for life in the fast track?"

I suppose it could be livelier.

"Yes, and I'm not going to buy any new furniture or a new TV set or add a rec room to my house, which winners always say they're going to do. I would announce that I was going to burn down the dump and every dull object with it."

Your wife wouldn't like that.

"That's probably true. So I also would announce that I was going to retain the best divorce lawyer in America to rid me of her."

That's rather callous, considering all those years she's given you.

"Actually, it's generous of me. It's not like I was going to hire someone to bump her off, which I could well afford to do if I won the lottery. Now that would be callous. And I wouldn't do it unless she was unreasonable."

What would your friends think?

"As friends, I hope they would understand. I would write them letters, explaining everything and telling them how I was going to save our friendship."

How would you do that?

"By having nothing further to do with any of them."

That's not very friendly.

"Of course it is. Human nature being what it is, if I won, they would all become terribly envious. This would cause friction in our friendship. So to save them from this painful situation, I would tell them that I didn't want to see them again."

But wouldn't you share some of your new wealth with them?

"That would be a terrible thing to do to my friends. It would make them dependent upon me, which would be wrong because they would never know if they would have succeeded in life on their own. Naturally, they'll fail on their own. But at least through failure they will come to know themselves. That precious self-knowledge would be my true gift of friendship to them."

But how can somebody live without friends and loved ones?

"Oh, that's no problem. I would simply go to the French Riviera and put up a sign on my yacht saying: 'I have $40 million. Do you love me?' They would probably love me so much they would be willing to do light housekeeping and my laundry, too."

But you can't just spend your life as a playboy.

"Why not? Why can't there be just one lottery winner who looks into the TV cameras and says: 'I am going to quit my job, dump my wife, shed my friends and use my wealth to do all the unspeakable things most of you dream about but are ashamed to admit.'"

Because that would discredit the lottery. It isn't intended to shatter marriages and turn decent men into sinful idlers.

"You might be right. So if I ever win, I'll revise my plan. I'll stay with my wife."

That's the way.

"Yes. And I'll get six mistresses."

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