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Column: Mega Millions reaches $1 billion. Here’s how some newsroom employees would spend it
Shannon Casas high res
Shannon Casas

If my oldest won $1 billion in the lottery, he’d travel — specifically to Hawaii and Hollywood.

In Hollywood, he’d watch lots of movies and then be in a movie, he said. Also he would buy a mansion.

Travel was top on the list for my youngest, too — Mexico, Florida and Miami. He’d also buy a lot of Gatorade.

Hopefully they’ll let me come along on their travels and live in that mansion. He can keep the Gatorade for himself, though.

Of course, $1 billion is a mind-boggling amount of money, especially when you’re in elementary school. They can probably hit up all their travel destinations and still have some left for charity. My oldest said he would give some to charity. My youngest replied, “Who’s Charity?”

So, what would you do if you won this $1 billion Mega Millions jackpot? I asked my staff, too.

Travel remained a popular refrain.

“I’d eat-pray-love my way around the world, maybe buy a vineyard estate,” one said. “Of course, I’d stash some away in savings, too, in the event of a rainy day. Mama didn’t raise no fool.”

Another, who hasn’t traveled much, would travel the United States first and then the world — on a private jet.

He wasn’t the only one buying a jet.

“My one major splurge may be a jet. It would be nice to just fly across the country on a whim,” another staff member said.

Given the state of the airline industry, that’s probably not a bad idea. I’d certainly be traveling a lot and all around the globe. If I could actually lie down and sleep on the long flight to Europe, that’d be swell. And my luggage would even make it to my destination, too.

Many in the newsroom mentioned buying vacation properties — one in the mountains, one in California, one in Florida on the gulf. Those all sound nice. I’d buy one in Ireland, too, though, somewhere on the West Coast right on the ocean with some nice cliffs and of course some sheep nearby.

“I would probably just travel constantly — possibly buy numerous homes around the world and bounce back and forth between them,” another said.

Of course, there’s also the family — have to take care of them first, at least set aside some money for the kids’ college.

“I would make sure I, my family and friends would be financially comfortable the rest of their lives. Beyond that, I don't know,” one said. Maybe he can borrow some of these other ideas for inspiration.

My family has settled on buying a beach house. Hopefully we’d all get a tidy sum on top of that, though. 

“I’d give my mom enough money to pay off her house — or buy a mansion if she wants,” one journalist said. And another “would probably give money to my parents since they have always helped me.”

Then of course, there’s charity — not Charity, whoever she is.

“I'd find a charity, or two, doing great things for children and make a sizeable donation.”

I might start my own charity — figure out if somewhere close to $1 billion might fix the child welfare system, intervene before it’s too late and keep a few more kids’ families from falling apart. 

The Division of Family and Children Services budget is closer to $2 billion, though. Think about fixing systemic societal problems, and suddenly $1 billion isn’t so much.

One staff member’s kid would use the money to give Africa a sustainable water source. Maybe he could make a dent in that, build quite a few wells. He’d also buy all the Legos.

Other charities making the list included animal shelters, domestic violence shelters and cancer research.

One staff member is smart enough that he’d plan to hire a company to protect his identity so no one ever knew he won all that money. But if someone you know suddenly throws a big party, you might figure it out.

One staff member would “withdraw a boatload of cash” and live it up at the fanciest steakhouse around. Another would hire Willie Nelson to put on a private backyard concert. 

Oh, and local journalism — at least one staff member said he would invest in local journalism.

I’d do that, too. In fact, I might even keep working — but only on the fun projects and only when I wanted to in between all my traveling. Actually, I might be too busy traveling. And trying to fix the world’s problems. How about a column every week on my world travels? Deal?


Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a North Hall resident.