Chris Johnson

Just where is that Mega Millions winner who is this close to losing all $1.5 billion?

Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson

In October of last year, someone bought a Mega Millions lottery ticket that was the sole winner of $1.5 billion jackpot. That “someone” as you may have heard, has yet to step forward. If they don’t step forward by April 19, they forfeit the winnings.

Every single bit of it.

They’ll be left with the same thing I get on those rare occasions when I sink $2 into a lottery ticket — a tiny slip of paper with numbers that are completely irrelevant.

“What kind of ridiculous numbers are these?” I’ll yell when checking to see if my ticket is a winner. “14, 23, 30, 44, 48, 55?”

“If I had to guess,” my wife will respond, “I’d say it’s probably your mental age, checking account balance, IQ, age you started losing your hair, your golf handicap and the place you finished in that 5K last month.”

“Hey, there were only 54 folks in that 5K!”

“I know! Hashtag sad.”

Granted, it’s not really a $1.54 billion jackpot. It had a cash option of only $878 million — and that’s before they take out $61 million in South Carolina state taxes and a whopping $237 million or so in federal taxes. Unless your last name is Bezos, Kushner or Trump, of course, in which case it’s closer to $0 in taxes. You might even get a little extra in that case.

Many have speculated that whoever possessed that ticket probably died on the spot when they realized they were rich. I nearly keel over when I find a quarter on the ground. “What do you mean it’s not lucky if it’s on tails? Is tails worth just 24 cents?”

Others believe the winner is just laying low to avoid publicity. That would have made sense for a few weeks, but now the publicity has ratcheted back up. Besides, they could have made millions in interest if they had claimed it three months ago.

That’d be a hard secret to keep. More than a couple decades ago, I worked in a small town where a grocery bagger claimed to be the winner of a $1 million jackpot sold in town. He said he was going to keep working at the store. Then I overhead someone ask him if he had any legal representation as he prepared to claim his winnings. He replied, “No, all these lawyers around here are scared to touch that much money.”

That’s when I knew he was lying. I’ve met a lot of lawyers, but I’ve yet to meet one scared to touch money. I feel bad for the poor soul if they know they once had and then lost the ticket. If it were me, and I lost what I knew was a $1.5 billion ticket, you wouldn’t be able to recognize my house when I got through tearing it apart. “How come the sofa is in three pieces?! And where’s the other half of the cat?!” “The whiny half? The back porch, I think.”

Unfortunately, I’ve got bad news for those of you sitting around waiting until April 19 to present some bogus winning Mega Millions ticket your nephew created in Adobe Illustrator. Sorry, but I just landed an exclusive interview with the winner, Lester Snodgrass of Five Forks, S.C.

“So, what are you going to do with your $878 million?” I asked him.

“Well, I reckon I’m gonna buy something real nice like some insulin and a couple of congressmen — a Republican and a Democrat,” he said. “And maybe the little bit left can go to charity.”

“Well, Mr. Snodgrass, on behalf of Big Pharma, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Sen. Rep. Chris Johnson, a right-left-wing conservative-liberal who volunteers at the Margaritaville Mission and the Tequila Foundation, and I’d like to help you. Whaddya say we just cut out the middle man?”

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