The winner of last week's $111.2 million Powerball lottery has yet to come forward as I write this, and I think I know why:
He is ashamed of himself.
He has become wealthy in a country that despises wealth.
On TV and in movies the wealthy are portrayed as greedy, grasping, and awful.
They are never portrayed as they actually are: Which is very, very happy.
I have never understood why we think wealth should bring misery, but we do.
The day after the Powerball drawing, USA Today ran a story with the headline:
"Winners, watch out. Jackpot can be millions of headaches."
The article cataloged just what a burden it was to become rich.
Take Buddy Post who won $16.2 million in 1988. (If I were named Buddy and won $16.2 million, by the way, the first thing I'd do is go out and buy myself a new first name.)
Buddy, the article tells us, has "spent himself into debt."
Gee, how awful. So I guess Buddy is now like 100 million other Americans in that he has a mortgage and credit card bills.
What a tale of woe! Of course, Buddy does have several million dollars with which to ease the pain.
But wait, it gets worse: Last month, Buddy's brother was charged with plotting to kill him to get what was left of the prize money.
"Before I hit the lottery, I was more content," Buddy said. "I had no pressure. I didn't have the worries."
What he must have had instead, however, was an IQ around room temperature.
Listen up, Buddy: Give me the $16.2 million and I'll take your two-bit worries off your hands for you. And your brother, too.
With one phone call, I can have your brother iced for $500 down and $500 after he is turned into the same kind of fast-food burger that Jimmy Hoffa ended up in.
What lottery winners really lack is the audacity to act rich now that they are rich.
Take the case of Theresa and Joel Morgan, who won $3.4 million in the Texas lottery a few months ago.
What did they do with it?
They "began building a house and bought a TV, a VCR, microwave oven, clothes and a 1973 Corvette," according to the article.
And now, of course, they are just beside themselves with worry.
But let's add things up: The house was a big ticket item. Let's say mid-six figures. And the Corvette would have set them back five figures.
With most lotteries you don't get the dough all at once, but banks are very happy to make loans to people who have guaranteed incomes. So the Morgans were still several million dollars in the black.
But then they threw caution to the winds and bought a television set. And a microwave oven. And a VCR.
Oh rack! Oh ruin! How could they turn into such wild and crazy spendthrifts!
Naturally, the Morgans are now miserable.
"We've already spent more than we wanted to," Theresa moaned. "It's really easy."
Yes it is. You buy a TV and VCR one day and pretty soon you go nuts and buy a hot-air corn popper and a Salad Shooter the next.
But you want to know the really loony thing about lottery winners?
About half of them keep their jobs.
That's right. They win 10 or 20 million dollars on Friday and they go back to the fishhook factory on Monday.
And you know why? Because along with being taught wealth is bad, we are taught work is good.
We are taught that work is ennobling and we should do it for as long as we can no matter how well off we become.
This is called the Puritan Ethic, and most Americans believe in it.
Which leaves me with one one question: What happened to all the Puritans?
You see any of them walking around in those funny hats and buckled-shoes?
You do not. And that is because they are all dead from too much work! While lazy, no-good bums, on the other hand, are everywhere.
So let that be a lesson to you.
My advice to the new $111.2 million Powerball winner is this:
Quit your job. Have some fun. Be zany.
And if you think you can actually swing buying a TV set, go nuts and make it color.