Last night the Powerball was at $250 million, but with no winners, it jumped up by $60 million to the 5th largest Powerball Jackpot. And if no one wins on Saturday, it is conceivable that the next Jackpot could jump to over $400 million.
Here in Oklahoma, we have the option of cash or annuity payments. The future is uncertain, so if I won, I would opt for a cash payment, which would be in the amount of $193.4 million. I don't know how much more will be taken by taxes, but how much money does a person really need?
First, I learned from watching a documentary about big winners who went broke after a year or two, They squandered their money on expensive useless things to give them a sense of status, got conned out of their money, or drugs devoured it. They talked about all the letters they received from people they didn't know with a sob story and if they could send them some money. Relatives they never knew they had came out of the woodworks wanting a piece of them.
The safety of my family is my first priority, if I won, I would not claim the money in my name. I'd set up a trust through an attorney to protect our privacy, and the jackpot would be collected in that manner. I wouldn't brag about it, but I would get busy of pursuing my dreams and visions.
Some, and in no particular order, are listed below"
- Establish a scholarship after securing commitments from a university or college, professors and other professionals to develop a curriculum of governmental studies based upon traditional Native philosophies & principles to provide our people with leaders who won't just go along with the system. These graduates would be the ones who may run for public office from municipalities to federal offices, including the White House. It isn't enough to support a person just because he or she has Native blood, it would take more than that, otherwise they are no different than any other politician. But they cannot do it alone, so on to my next vision.
- In a collective effort, create a political party that is based upon Native philosophies and principles that is open to everyone. Regardless of race, sex and even tribe, we are confronted with a system that does not want to accept, let alone allow change in the way things are. Somehow, we need to arrive at a point where we can elect enough people to establish a majority.
- Another project is to incorporate a business that builds alternative homes utilizing alternative forms of energy. As a model, I'd purchase a square mile of land, and conduct training workshops on how to create an entire community using these principles. Then I would assist the trainees in setting up branch offices and help in getting them started to where they could have an income to keep the business afloat, while training people in their communities to propagate this work.
- The community created here through this training would be open to a committed group of people who wants to live in this way, maintain a community garden, self-govern through consensus. I attempted this once, but no one was willing to let go of their comfort zone and help to build from scratch. This community would be a model for others to follow. I've got a few friends who are trying to do this already and I wish them much success. And if I win, they can count on my support, but they will never know it is me!
- Another thing I would embark upon is running for Chief. Having access to funds would allow me to reach as many tribal members as possible to campaign. We have over 200,000 members, and as a challenging candidate, we do not have access to the voters registration list. The incumbents have the advantage of the tribal paper being sent to members with the Chief and council having their names mentioned in every issue. During elections, the candidates may get a mention once, but not for their issues, just that they are the challengers. The paper refuses to publish anything negative about the Chief, Assistant Chief or the Council, so readers assume they are doing a fine job. Yet, I hear many complain of abuses, but fear to speak out because of retaliation in different forms. We would like to see more transparency and accountability in the Choctaw Nation, and we'll need to find a way to make a change in this system with or without the finances to do it.
- There is a need for non-profit social service programs, with properly trained people to manage it. So I would establish a foundation to help with start-ups and serve as an umbrella. For example, years ago, I spoke with someone as to how bad the need was for suitable Native foster families to take in Native children through the Indian Child Welfare Act. He said it is huge, and that he gets asked quite often by judges if there is a list of Native families who have been pre-screened and received some training to comply with the intent of the ICWA. Another aspect is to develop agencies that move beyond "band-aid" type of approaches that can have lasting effects: women shelters and rehab centers, are two examples. I'd want to see a place that does more than just give them temporary refuge or a place to clean up, but to follow up in providing the skills they need until they have attained individual stability. Otherwise, we see a revolving door effect, which the children sees and often emulates.
- A media center that can allow journalists the ability to cover and report the news without being censored for telling the truth. You definitely would not see ads recruiting for the CIA, FBI, or Homeland Security! There are many reporters out there, good people, but they have to operate on a shoestring budget, if they even have that. Print, audio or visual, we could use a media outlet to bring our stories and perceptions mainstream.
- Something for the youth that I would love to do is hold summer encampments for cultural immersion, self-reliance and esteem building experiences. Also do training on organizing events, demonstrations, or other activities to effect change in their communities. If we had the means to bring them together to empower them to present their voice, our future leaders would have a better foundation to build upon.
These are just some examples of what I could do with $310 million. I've never been afraid to dream big, because the picture has always been bigger than me. I'll agree that money won't buy me happiness, but it will give me the means to begin to start making a difference. Maybe those of us who live near each other should create a pool to increase our chances. After all someone has to win sooner or later!
So what would you do if you won a huge jackpot like this?