November 26, 2005

"Metcalf died in 2003 at age 45 while living in a replica of George Washington's Mount Vernon estate built in Corbin, Kentucky."

The fate of a powerball winner. Now, Metcalf's ex-wife -- they separated on hitting the lottery -- has been found lying dead in her house by the Ohio River, her corpse undiscovered for days. She'd been keeping to herself since last December, when a dead man "was found in her 5,000-square-foot, custom-built geodesic dome house."

So, do you think you would have done better if you'd won $65 million? You think you wouldn't have built a geodesic dome or a replica of Mount Vernon?

IN THE COMMENTS: Readers identify the house they would build a replica of if they had the money.


chuck b. said...

Those options have never been considered in my house, where the subject of how to spend the lottery millions remains eternally popular.

As a Californian, the geodesic dome sounds kind of trite, but the replica of Mount Vernon fascinates me. Did he have it specially built, or did he buy it from some other kook? And why Mount Vernon and not Monticello? Of course, I mean kook in a loving, reverential way.

the illavator said...

I wouldn't do anything boring like that. After buying a nice Manhattan apartment and an ostentatious car and a supermodel girlfriend, I would put the rest of the money into serious, job-creating businesses. Such as a human chessboard, playable via internet.

Hollywood Freaks said...

Such as a human chessboard, playable via internet.

mmm... beautiful! If you ever win, give me a call; I can roleplay an excellent rook and would most likely to take a pay cut if offered the job.

Palladian said...

I would not have built a replica of Mount Vernon! Although I quite like it, and might build one as a weekend house, I would instead build a replica of Castle Howard. It's much more my style than any funky geodesic domes.

peter hoh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
peter hoh said...

Well, if this is going to be a place to highlight favorite houses, here's mine: Fonthill.

These are the best photos I can find, but you'll have to scroll through photos of the museum to get to the photos of the house. Fonthill is located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Henry Chapman Mercer built several buildings out of reinforced concrete, which was a new building technology at the turn of the last century. Fonthill served as his house and a showroom for the tiles he manufactured.

Took a 4th grade class there on a tour. Afterwards, one of the mom chaperones said to another, "No wonder he was single. No woman would want to live there." A few weeks later, I took my wife to visit Fonthill -- and I didn't mention that comment. As we walked through, Lisa said something about how she would love to live in a house like this.

Jacques Cuze said...

Well the first million I would squirrel away for my kids. I would spend the other $64M to fund an institution of scientists, mathematicians and lawyers to fight junk science (psychology, etc.) in the courtroom.

Pooh said...

Life imitating Lost...spooky.

Beyond that, I like illavator's idea, though perhaps owning an Arena League football team would be more my speed...

P. Froward said...

I would buy a mountain and have it carved into a brobdingnagian likeness of Earl Scruggs, visible from space. In the part where the frontal lobes would be if Earl were really that big, there'd be vast caverns filled with mechanical bats. I would live among them and study their behavior.

I would also fund a satellite that would shine a giant but harmless laser on Canada, just to rattle their cage.

Charlie (Colorado) said...

I've wondered about this fairly often. Remember first off that you really get about half the total as a one-time cash payment; the big number is the total annuity amount. So let's talk about, say $32 million cash.

You then pay, say, 30 percent in taxes. (I think the bill on a windfall like this is 28 percent, but I'm not interested enough to look it up.) So, net net, you end up with about $20 million.

Take that to one of the big investment banks, and have them put it into a safe fund with a very low risk of losing capital. You should be getting about $1.5 million per year for that as income without touching the principal.

Learn to live on a million and a half a year.

You can afford a $3 to $5 million dollar home. (Don't buy for cash, after tax advantages etc, the house is much cheaper on a mortgage.) That leaves you about a million dollars a year for income.

Hmmm. The Ritz Carlton in NYC would certainly know my name. Or maybe the SoHo Grand, I like downtown.

Other than that --- hell, I don't think I'd even retire. Maybe I'd spend less time at work, but I basically do for a living what I do for fun: write and mess with computers.

Scott Ferguson said...

If I hit the big one, I would go to graduate school. That's about the amount of money it takes.

tiggeril said...

I'm with Charlie on this one. Beat back the hordes of "relatives" popping out of the woodwork, splurge a little, and invest invest invest!

P. Froward said...

People should focus on practical things, like Earl Scruggs. We as a nation seem to have lost our way.

amba said...

Whom the gods would destroy, they first give a winning lottery ticket.

lindsey said...

"I would spend the other $64M to fund an institution of scientists, mathematicians and lawyers to fight junk science (psychology, etc.) in the courtroom."

Is quxxo really Tom Cruise?

What would I do with all that money? Shop. Shop. Shop.

Jacques Cuze said...

Yah I wish. No, just someone that has personally been burned by a) junk science in the courtroom, and b) judges whose #1 priority is to clear their calendar and so love to outsource their responsibility to consultants peddling junk science.

Crank said...

I'd blog more.

Troy said...

I would buy a seat in the Senate (I mean "run" of course). I would then park my new double-wide replica of Versailles somewhere near DC in Virginia.

It might also be fun to see if I could start a new Rococo revival (perhaps in the double-wide market).

I guess leave something for the kids -- probably the Senate seat. I would also like to get me one of them bridges to nowhere.

EddieP said...

I wouldn't build a new house, just fix up the present one a bit and retire the mortgage and payoff the rest of the bills. Replace my ten year old pickup and thirteen year old car. Take a full two week vacation every year to finish some desired travel here in America, something I haven't done in years. Invest in a trust fund in my son's name and try to do some good. I know some people who really need a hand, so I'd help them get back on their feet.

I could give some money to my brothers and sisters, but none of them really need it. Sounds pretty boring doesn't it? I basically have what I need to be happy, lots of money to worry about would only threaten that.

Joe Baby said...

I'd probably give up some hobbies and find a new vice or two.

Kev said...

I've thought about this quite a bit, since I missed winning the Lotto Texas by one number during its first month of existence (had I picked that number, I would have split a $15 million jackpot with two other people).

I would certainly upsize my house, but not to a ridiculous extent; the last thing I would want to do is bring that kind of attention upon myself. And as for retirement? No way! (I'm a jazz musician, and nearly every musician's secret fantasy is to never retire, but rather to die on the bandstand after a particularly good solo, preferably at a ripe old age.) Sure, I might winnow down my teaching studio to those students who really want to be there (as opposed to the ones whose parents are forcing them to take lessons), and I'd also practice more, and compose more...oh, and definitely blog more.

peter hoh said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
peter hoh said...

For some reason, the gremlins attack every time I try to put a link in a comment. Here's another attempt to link to my favorite house, Fonthill, located in Bucks County, PA, between Philadelphia and New York City.

You'll have to scroll down halfway to see a couple exterior photos of the house. At the very bottom of the page are some nice black and white photos of the interior.

XWL said...

This reminds me of the times I tried out for Jeopardy. Everyone who passes the written test play a mock game and before the mock game they ask a few things about each applicant, and one question they always ask is what they would do with the money should they win.

As Jeopardy money isn't nearly as big as lottery money, and given the nature of the folk who pass the written portion, the most common are repay student loans, pay for grad school, kids college fund, or travel.

All the above is to set up my joke answer which echoes joe baby's comment, my answer each time I have passed the written test has been, "beer and prostitutes".

With lottery money I could upgrade to "40 year old scotch and 25 year old gold diggers"

(I figured that the beer and prostitute answer would at least get the interviewers to remember a face to a name, but so far nothing)

As far as dream homes, I'd just add a 2nd story entertainment center and jacuzzi deck to the family homestead (I have simple tastes, and I love the location I'm in)

(that was a very long set-up for a very minor joke, but sometimes that makes it more comical when the set-up is outsized compared to the pay-off)

reader_iam said...

Charlie (Colorado): That's exactly what my husband and I have said we would do, as far as getting it all set up as an investment yielding a yearly income.

Then, based on that net, we would probably not go so much for a mansion, but rather more choose to have homes or apartments in more places--the dwellings themselves would just have to be more modest (relatively speaking).

We'd also make sure there was a fund to underwrite all the education our kid could possibly want, including travel abroad (exchange student, and all that, assuming he's interested). And I would have the best time offering grants to various charitable interests I have.

Now we just have to PLAY the lottery more often (we do buy into the larger Powerballs--what SHEEP!).

XWL: Wow! Jeopardy tryouts! Now I have Weird Al in my mind: "My Life on Jeopardy, Baby"!

reader_iam said...

Oh yeah, and a maid, definitely a maid (or at least an alarmingly frequent cleaning service).

A masseuse?

XWL said...

I've tried out 4 times, passed the test thrice. (and the one time I didn't pass I was 23 so I use youth and inexperience as an excuse)

Having a head full of trivia and being able to recall it when necessary isn't useful much else other than in Jeopardy tryouts though.

(plus even when you pass the test the odds are against you as they have thousands who pass every season and only use hundreds)

(but I probably mentioned it only to show off, cause I'm vain like that)

Chris O'Brien said...

Some thoughts on this.

1. Here is a neat site that answers the question "How much do I get after all the deductions?:

(The fact I know of its existence does prove my wife's theory that I have too much time on my hands.)

2. The lotto-as-tragedy story is always compelling, and I read or watch them all, but lets face it - and I hate to sound elitist here - the overspenders who wind up prematurely dead are never exactly the most well educated or together types. Dateline did a big thing on this a few years ago and told a whole bunch of sad tales of overindulgence followed by personal destruction and these were not exactly people who were grounded in stability in the 1st place. My view is, if you are reading Ann's blog, and you managed to have a winning ticket tommorow, we wouldn't be reading a story like this about you.

3. Know what I'd like to see? When some lazy reporter asks the inevitable stupid question "Is the money going to change you?" have someone actually say "Yes. New clothes, new house, new friends, new family if possible. I am going to become a world class a-hole and have a lot of fun doing it" or something like that.

Buck Pennington said...

It's been said the lottery is a tax on math-challenged people. I kinda buy that.

Stiles said...

For both the house and the gardens, you can put me down for a Chatsworth replica. Will need to be one of the bigger jackpots! Might need to go Palladian and downsize to Chiswick

Barry "iPod" Johnson said...

I'd have several homes around Michigan: Rochester, Petoskey, Traverse City, East Grand Rapids.

One home in Cave Creek AZ.

And one like this -

PatCA said...

Somebody wrote a book on how winning made the winner's life better--can't remember now who it was. One winner said, if you had a good life before, you have a good life now, just with more money. So if you were a dope before winning, you'll be a rich dope after.

I would build a Georgian-style mansion. My playhouse in back would be a replica of Trump's apartment, just to remind me that money isn't everything. I would start a foundation to fund mortgages for all my artist friends and hire some interns to look for cool causes to counterbalance Teresa Heinz Kerry's causes. I would come in to the office often, but never before 10 a.m.

Balfegor said...

Chatsworth. I would blow it all on a replica of Chatsworth.


Except $65 million probably wouldn't be near enough these days. Well, something smaller, I suppose, with fewer painted ceilings and sculptures and whatnot.

chuck b. said...

I knew a guy who made big bucks on Jeopardy. He bought a house in Berekeley w/ the winnings (several years ago).

His run ended when he failed to posit the correct question about who is the biggest single customer of he US airline industry...


whit said...

This is a bizarre story about what $65 million dollars brings. Separation, loneliness, eccentricity and early demise. Of course not for everyone but we always think that money will solve all our problems. Obviously it doesn't.

XWL said...

Chuck: What is the USPS?

(didn't mean to threadjack and turn this into jeopardyblogging, but stuff happens)

XWL said...

And this whole concept that money brings tragedy I think is false (at least partly for reason I'll explain).

It reminds me of the view many people push about combat veterans. (They are all broken, fractured and suffering from PTSD).

A recent WaPo article described many Iraq War vets who have thrived as people after serious injury.

In any major life event you come out of it with what you brought into it. Whether it's loads of money or serious bodily injury, or the unexpected loss of a loved one, most people suffer from depression, anxiety and uncertainty initially but then find a way to intergrate their new situation into their life.

Happy well adjusted folk who are surrounded by happy well adjusted folk survive these events and grow from them.

Suspicious, melancholy, depressed folk find events overwhelming and descend deeper into the problems that they had before their lifes changed (so in a way nothing changes, things just become amplified).

I guess you could say it's a matter of orientation and support.

Charlie (Colorado) said...

reader_iam, you know, I thought about that --- a pied a terre in Manhattan, say, and a little place in Telluride. But I used to have the kind of job where I livied at home for weekends and in some other location during the week, and you know, having two (or more!) apartments isn't that good a deal: you're either buying duplicates of stuff for each, or you're missing something that's at the other place. You have to be spending a lot of time someqwhere before it's worth the bother of having a full time place; you can have a nice suite in a nice hotel for a week for the same couple grand you'd pay to rent a studio apartment in Manhattan.

(The counter argument is something like a condo in Aspen, especially if you don't ski. It can come close to paying for itself in winter rentals, and you can use it in the summer.)

chuck b. said...

Where is Ann? This is highly unusual. She hasn't gone this long without posting since she started blogging.

Did she drink too much wine during her podcast?

Althouse2 is silent too.

jacob said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


marion said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.