The Accidental Billionaire: Part 5

Below is an excerpt from a novella I’m writing. Here are previous parts:

The story is about someone who wins a billion dollar lottery, and how their life changes as a result. I am publishing about a scene a week, and will eventually release the full story as an ebook.


Deedee sat on the couch and slowly ate her usual breakfast, a cup of strawberry yogurt and a banana.

The TV was playing a program on the Powerball. Since that night with Sandy and Cassie, her life had become non-stop lottery gossip: at work with Joao it was speculating who would quit if they won, at home with Cassie it was what trips they’d take and what purses and shoes they’d buy. Cassie in her excitement had even created a shared Amazon wishlist which she added to seemingly every hour. The whole town was abuzz with chatter. Bill was doing more business than he had in years. Grasslight, the local bar, was holding a two-for promo today and people were expected to pack the place as soon as it opened for lunch: It was drawing day.

Last night, even her boyfriend Jackson had mentioned he was gonna buy tickets – but she didn’t think he had the motivation, much less the money. The only person who didn’t seem interested, and never brought it up, was Sandy. She’d made it a point to shut down all Powerball conversation whenever it got going by referencing a seeming laundry list of accidents and mishaps and tragedies minor and major that seems to befall the winners.

[Playing on TV]

Rob: …exciting day. After five days of waiting, we’re finally here at drawing day. Today, someone, somewhere, might win 4 BILLION dollars. Or is it 5?

Phil: Oh, Rob. I think the latest count is 4 and a half billion. More than the entire history of Powerball, ever. In fact I think this is more than all previous Powerballs, combined. And it’s not even over yet, folks! You can still play. You still have 10 hours left. As you can see, the lines just don’t end. People are frantic to get tickets before cutoff! [b-roll of different lines outside convenience stores, supermarkets, ticket vending machines, people fighting and shoving]

Rob: Phil’s right. He’s got his tickets. I’ve got mine. Our producers, the camera guys. Heck, even former President Booker is part of the action! Check out this amazing clip that a viewer sent us:

[Camera cuts to a shaky handheld video of former President Cory Booker. He’s wearing a gray cashmere sweater over a blue collared shirt, and loose fitting dark jeans. He’s standing alone. Behind him is a Powerball kiosk in what appears to be a luxury outdoor shopping mall, perhaps in Palo Alto]

Lady: President Booker, I’m such a big fan. I voted for you. What a surprise to find you here. It looks like you just played the Powerball. [A female voice is behind the camera, which pans left and right. The former president manages to smile as his eyes look around at the crowd slowly gathering]

President: Yes, well, as you know, the presidency doesn’t pay that much, right? And well, we were just out, my wife and I, we were doing a bit of shopping today, and I saw the kiosk – wow, look at that line now – and sorta figured, why not? Why not join in the fun and buy a few tickets for the family?

[Camera cuts back to the studio]

Phil: That was recorded by a shopper a few days ago. And in hindsight, was a real turning point. After President – sorry, former President – Booker was caught on camera outside a Powerball kiosk, the jackpot just went into hyper drive. I mean, we have celebrities now saying they bought tickets, there was this Instagram post of Floyd Mayweather in a strip club raining tickets. It’s even got trending hashtags, like “twoforone”, where you buy two tickets, and give one away. Now that’s some generosity right there! It’s a phenomenon, folks. The first social media lottery. And it all comes to a climax today.

Rob: Now I’ve been doing some calculations, and, and if the lottery is, let’s say $5 billion, let’s say one person wins it ok, let’s call the lucky winner Phil, haha, and let’s say plucky Phil chooses the one time lump payment. So that cuts your winnings down by half, around $3 billion. And then let’s pay the federal and state taxes, which together will be about 20%, because our Phil here is a good proper lawful citizen, so that will leave him with just about two billion in cold, hard cash. Two billion in cash, into Phil’s bank account.

Phil: That lucky bastard.

Rob: The biggest payout in history. One way to put this in perspective: Lonzo Ball, who just signed the most lucrative basketball contract in history, half a billion dollars. The Powerball is TEN TIMES his contract. If you win, you could sign 10 Lonzo Balls! Start your own basketball team!

Phil: Some insane numbers, Rob. Not big, huge. Not huge, borderline insane. In fact, we wanted to share with everyone some ideas of what you could do with the money. So we have Jessica here to give us a special report. Hey Jessica!

Jessica: Hi Phil. Rob. Yeah guys, it’s unprecedented. I’m gonna be watching just like everyone else tonight. Not only is the jackpot breaking records, the audience estimates are too. An expected live audience of almost half a billion people will be watching tonight. Which means the drawing itself will be the most televised event in history, bigger than the World Cup final. Bigger than the Super Bowl. And Rob’s favorite actress, Jennifer Lawrence, is doing the drawing.

[Camera cuts back to Phil and Rob; Rob is laughing loudly and says something but there is no audio feed]

Jessica: But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to give you an idea of exactly what you can do with that kind of money. I mean, $2 billion in your pocket is a lot of money, but I don’t think any of us can really grasp what that means in the abstract. So let’s make it very concrete. What can you buy with $2 billion?

[A pastiche of images and short video clips begin to appear on the screen]

Let’s say you want to buy a nice house? For starters the most expensive mansion in the world, a three floor luxury penthouse in the famous Roppongi District of Tokyo, Japan, recently sold for $85 million. The buyer was a reclusive Korean billionaire. Olympic sized indoor swimming pool, Grecian marble toilets, even a 4 car parking garage with a private elevator, and sweeping – simply sweeping – views of the Tokyo skyline from the 92nd floor. And if you win the Powerball, this penthouse could easily be yours. And it would be just a rounding error in your winnings.

…or maybe you want to travel the world? Ok. An around the world plane ticket, first class on Singapore Airlines, would cost around half a million. Let’s say you have a family of 4. That’s $2 million for the 4 of you. So you could do that once a year, for every year of the rest of your life, and you’d still not make a dent in your money. In fact, you could invite your extended family, your childhood friends, and your financial manager along on the ride, and it wouldn’t move the needle!

…or ok, let’s say you’re an investor, and you want to turn those billions into even more? Become the next Warren Buffett? Well, let’s say you took all that money and invested into Bitcoin today, this generation’s gold. Each Bitcoin currently trades at around $55,000. With two billion dollars, you could buy 36 THOUSAND of them. Instantly, you’d become one of the top 20 or 30 Bitcoin holders in the world. Your stash of digital gold will be on par with the known holdings of Fortune 10 companies and the world’s largest hedge funds. You’d have more Bitcoin than France! A Bitcoin baron, like the oil and gold barons of old.

…or perhaps you like fine dining and…


Deedee looked at her watch. 9:15am. Time to head into the office.

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.