What Would You Do With Powerball Money?


An excellent topic came across the ol’ Twitter timeline Tuesday afternoon — that’s @kensing45 for you not hip to the game — positing a “Powerball Theory.”

The Powerball Theory, you ask?

With all the hot-seat banter prevalent around college football right now, surely the first thing some fans would use their newly acquired wealth on is handling astronomical contract buyouts for their teams’ head coaches. Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com wrote this prescient column in June 2014, five months after Gus Malzahn coached Auburn to the BCS Championship Game and a little more than two years before Malzahn’s become one of the first few names on any SEC coaching hot seat column.

Malzahn’s buyout has yet to reach the mythic proportions of Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, who now has a contract extending into January 2026, at a time when college football will presumably be played by robots…or at least cyborgs. Keeping with technological advancements, a Powerball-winning Notre Dame fan just might invest in time-travel research, simply to avoid ever having to read about the decade-long buyout paid to Charlie Weis.

Me, personally? My Powerball list, in order of priority, is as follows.

1. Pay off all debt accrued both by myself and my closet family and friends

One who takes a student loan doesn’t think of accruing interest, nor lenders holding borrowers accountable for life, when he/she does a keg stand at a game-day tailgate. Student loan debt totals a staggering $1.3 trillion; not even the heftiest Powerball payout will pay that down.

I may not be able to take even a chunk out of that figure, nor the staggering medical debt an estimated 48 million Americans carry, but if I can alleviate some of the stress on the people I’m closest to, my Powerball winnings have made a big impact — especially on the condition that some of the money they’ve saved from not making interest-heavy payments goes toward helping someone else.

Consider it a more realistic spin on Trickle-Down Economics.

2. Fund a media outlet reliant on journalism over clickbait

Rather than attempt to articulate everything about the current media landscape that terrifies me, I’ll refer you to the below Last Week Tonight clip. John Oliver doesn’t destroy anything, but he does shed light on some sobering and frightening truths about an industry I love and still believe in.

I am fortunate to freelance for outlets that champion journalism over clickbait. I’m also thankful to have been paid for my work, a point that shouldn’t be necessary for me to explicitly spell out, but does underscore one of the business’ bigger problems right now.

A portion of my Powerball cash would invest in outlets that employ journalists to produce journalism. This pie-in-the-sky plan might leave me vulnerable to being poorly satired, but I can live with that if it means making a positive impact on the Fourth Estate.

3. Buy a movie theater

Were it not bad enough for me to sink my fictitious Powerball money into one uncertain medium, my second major investment: a movie theater specializing in a unique patron experience.

Much like my media venture, I’ll start small with investment into a single theater to see how it goes. And the theater in which I am investing is the La Paloma Theater. It’s located in my neighborhood, and was built in the Silent Film era, 1927, giving it the perfect atmosphere for a destination cinema.

My Powerball-funded cinema will specialize in showing classics, hosting marathons and bringing in producers, directors, writers, film critics and actors for audience Q&As and live-action commentary tracks. October is the perfect month to showcase two of my life’s passions: horror films, and sports movies. I need Joe Kane to explain to the paying audience how the highway scene was shot.

La Paloma is also the perfect spot, as North County San Diego is America’s craft brewing hot-spot. My vision: sell locally brewed beers to patrons. In other words, I’m ripping off Alamo Drafthouse, which has been plenty successful. I’m not being completely unrealistic with my Powerball plan.

4. Teslas! (Editor’s note, Oct. 2018: LOL never mind)

My wife and I both want Teslas, but the electric car manufacturer’s asking price is juuuuuust out of our price range. The Model S runs about $72,000, and the Model X goes for $80,000. If I’m going to splurge on a car, I’m going to be practical, too, OK? And I’ll need that practicality for my road trips around the nation to visit college football and college basketball’s premier venues.

Editor’s Note: So, I’d still love to own an electric car, and would still spend my hypothetical lottery winnings on one, but not a Tesla. I could write a lengthy essay on my thoughts on Elon Musk, whose union-busting efforts, AFTER receiving $5 billion in government subsidies, are abhorrent enough on their own. Combined with his increasingly erratic behavior, his is a story that comes perilously close to mirroring that of John DeLorean in the 1980s. The DeLorean automobile now exists as a historic relic, and Tesla’s headed in the same direction. 

5. College football/basketball road trips

So many destinations on my bucket list for the two sports I most love. The Big House, Notre Dame Stadium, Death Valley (both of ’em) in the fall; The Palestra, Hinkle Fieldhouse, The Garden, Cameron Indoor Stadium in the winter.

Maybe the Hawaii Bowl and Battle for Atlantis, too. No better way of spending a holiday than in the tropics.