Friday, March 06, 2009

Would You Turn Down A Million?

When I was in eighth grade, I had this science teacher who graded on a curve. Not the make-it-easier way, but the make-it-harder way. All the grades were averaged together, and the majority of the class ended up with C’s, because, well, that was average. (So yes, if the whole class aced a test, then everyone was screwed.)

He had a son in our grade, a smart kid who was one of two “teacher’s kids.”

image One day, the science teacher came into school looking rather… worn out and dazed. He sat us all down and explained that last night he’d won the Publisher’s Clearing- house Sweepstakes.

And turned it down.

TURNED IT DOWN.

He was at first met with skepticism, and after we were convinced, he was met with why the fuck did you turn a million dollars down?

He told us that he didn’t want his lifestyle to change. He had a job he loved, his wife was happy, his kids were happy, they had a nice house, and he didn’t want all that to change.

And so he turned it down.

(As a piece of side trivia, did you know that people are slightly more stressed out by coming into a lot of money than people who lose a lot of money?)

image It just got me thinking, tonight. I would never turn down a million dollars. Even if I personally didn’t want it, there’s just so much good I could do with it. (I’d want it, but I’d share, LOL.)

Would you turn down a million bucks? What would you do with a million bucks?

And you know, no one ever asked the question that’s haunted me ever since:

If he didn’t want to win, why did he play?

34 bonus scribbles:

rjkeller 3/06/2009 03:05:00 AM  

Maybe he just REALLY wanted a subscription to Popular Science?

I wouldn't turn down a million bucks (or, rather, $400,000 after taxes.) Do you know how many Star Wars action figures that would buy, even after I'm done paying off my mortgage?

writtenwyrdd 3/06/2009 05:52:00 AM  

I wouldn't turn it down, but I have always said that first thing I would do is pay my modest debt off, file my tax payment and then put the money in CDs or something for at least six months so it would become old and I wouldn't do anything terribly stupid.

Mark Terry 3/06/2009 07:48:00 AM  

I wouldn't turn it down. With a million I'm not even sure how much it would change my lifestyle. Not that I'm that rich, I'm not, but after taxes it's not a fortune, so I might pay off my house, pay off my cars, pay off my credit card debt, then probably get some work done on the house, buy a boat, maybe a vacation condo somewhere and the rest would go into a retirement/college fund.

Now $100 million... THAT would change my lifestyle.

Pink Ink 3/06/2009 07:50:00 AM  

Ay caramba!

He turned it down????

Mmm.

I would have kept the money and...stressed about it. LOL

*why did he play?*

Probably because he never thought he'd win.

Bevie 3/06/2009 08:16:00 AM  

My first thought was, "Why did he play?"

No. I would not turn the money down. There are so many things I wish to do, to help both myself and others, that cannot be done without large sums of money.

I could start the business I want.

Erica Orloff 3/06/2009 09:10:00 AM  

I wouldn't turn it down. I'd pay off bills, set aside money for the kids' college . . . and then use some of it to do some GOOD in the world!! (And really . . . a million's not that much anymore, sadly).
E

Aerin 3/06/2009 09:50:00 AM  

Even when we were in high school, N, I don't think a million dollars (or, as rjk pointed out, $400K) would have changed a lifestyle.

Part of me wonders if he was telling the truth. Aren't I the world's worst skeptic?

Edie 3/06/2009 10:53:00 AM  

I would have taken the money. No question. I'm guessing a million meant a little more when you were in eighth grade than it does now. Now it's a nice cushion with leftovers.

Travis Erwin 3/06/2009 11:07:00 AM  

that's exactly the question I was asking. I also wonder if he has regretted it ever since.

Avery DeBow 3/06/2009 11:25:00 AM  

I'd take it without blinking. I'd finish this house, sell it and then buy a gorgeous lot and let the Architect set about building his dream home.

StarvingWriteNow 3/06/2009 11:42:00 AM  

That's a trick question, right?

Eric Mayer,  3/06/2009 12:03:00 PM  

I find it hard to believe. But, if he dd turn it down he was being totally irresponsible with regards to his family. He should have at least put it in the bank. What if he suddenly dropped dead, became an invalid, lost his job, or some misfortune requiring huge expenditures hit one of his family? Hey, he won a "good lottery", didn't it occur to him that if that's possible it might also be possible he'd "win" some "bad lottery"?

Sarah Laurenson 3/06/2009 12:23:00 PM  

Would I turn it down? No. I have bills to pay, a job to cut back on hours so I have more time to write, and a lot of charities that I support. My wife's job is in trouble (newspapers are going belly up all over). I'm sure she'd be happy to start her own business. I know I'd want to own a bookstore and not because it would make money.

That grading system is what they use in law school. You're graded against each other not against a standard. Someone always fails - no matter how well they really did on the test. Fun, huh?

Susan Helene Gottfried 3/06/2009 12:50:00 PM  

I was just complaining to the Tour Manager about how useless a million bucks is. But we're lucky; we live nicely off his salary.

Kerri's had some comments on this subject...
http://blog.westofmars.com/2007/06/23/tagged-the-five-things-meme/

Melanie Avila 3/06/2009 03:40:00 PM  

I would NOT turn it down. Like others said, you could do so much good with it even if none of it ever went into your personal bank account.

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 03:49:00 PM  

LOL, good point, RJ! Yeah, taxes really whittles that down, doesn't it?

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 03:50:00 PM  

Me too, Written! I'd live debt-free, for sure. That's an incredibly wise plan, the six-month thing. I like that.

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 03:51:00 PM  

So true, Mark! Back then, our smallish but nice house in a really nice neighborhood was worth a whopping $45,000. Can you believe that? That money would have certainly changed our lifestyle, LOL...

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 03:52:00 PM  

Jewel, me too! Definitely!

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 03:53:00 PM  

Bevie, I know exactly what I'd do with each and every penny, LOL!

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 03:54:00 PM  

Erica, that's exactly what I'd do, except I'd buy a truck and a fifth wheel house, first.

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 03:56:00 PM  

LOL, Aerin, we all wondered the same thing. If I remember correctly, he didn't like the publicity.

But... for example, I'm renting a house that's worth $225,000, and it's not as nice or spacious as the $45,000 house I grew up in. Times sure have changed!

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 03:57:00 PM  

Exactly, Edie! A nice cushion with a little leftover. After taxes, bills, and a nice RV, I think we might have 100K to save toward retirement and emergencies.

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 03:57:00 PM  

Travis, I wonder that all the time! And I wonder how often his family got pissed at him for it, LOL!

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 03:58:00 PM  

Amen to that, Avery! I'd love to see Architect's dream home!

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 04:00:00 PM  

EXACTLY, Eric. Do you know what I really suspect happened? I suspect he blew a fuse when the van and cameras showed up and turned it down on the spot. And then later "filled in" rational reasons for his irrational and irresponsible decision.

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 04:03:00 PM  

Oh, Sarah, that grading system is EVIL. Quite a competitive environment, sheesh! I keep telling my local newspapers to offer an online subscription. I mean, totally, I'd pay $20 a year to read the local news online.

I've always dreamed of owning a chocolate shop with a piano and bookstore attached.

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 04:06:00 PM  

Susan, isn't that the truth? A million dollars used to be huge! Now, after taxes, it pays for college and a house, maybe a little retirement. Man, inflation is sure a killer!

spyscribbler 3/06/2009 04:06:00 PM  

Totally, Melanie! It was rather insane.

Barbara Martin 3/09/2009 12:07:00 AM  

I can see your science teacher's point, but I would still have taken the money and found a good use for part of it in scholarships for underpriviledged students to be able to attend university or college.

Angie 3/10/2009 05:07:00 AM  

I think that guy was a moron. [eyeroll] What, he didn't want to put his kids through a good university? He had absolutely no concerns about his retirement? He didn't know any charities that could use a donation...? [sporks idiot]

Also, what school district was he in that he was allowed to teach his own son?? O_O

Angie

spyscribbler 3/10/2009 04:24:00 PM  

Yeah. I agree, Barbara!

spyscribbler 3/10/2009 04:26:00 PM  

Angie, totally! I still find it mind-boggling.

The teacher thing ended up working fine. The teachers happened to teach the honors classes, and the kids were honors kids, so there was no alternative. It seemed to work out okay, though.