MCCULLOUGH: Don't have to hit lottery to do some good

Nate McCullough

Nate McCullough

Five hundred and 40 million dollars -- I wonder if any of us who are dreaming about winning the Mega Millions tonight really comprehends how much money that is. And who knows -- it may be $600 million by the time they draw the numbers.

Your average lottery dream goes like this: You hit for a few million, maybe even 10 or 20. You go buy your dream car and dream house. You take those trips you always wanted to take. You pay off mama's house and your sister's bills, buy your best friend a boat, donate some to charity and leave a check for $20,000 in the offering plate on Sunday. And you'll figure out the rest later.

But this -- this is the kind of money that makes those dreams afterthoughts. Even with the lump sum, the winner will still end up with about a quarter of a billion dollars. Monetary dreams are a given at that point. The next step is figuring out how you can change the world.

That much money doesn't just put you in the top tax bracket -- it gives you power. It gives you the ears of CEOs, governors and senators, maybe even the president. It's the kind of money that can put people to work. Cure disease. Feed thousands. The winner will have the ability to do a lot of good in the world.

They'll also have the ability to do a lot of bad -- and get away with it.

I hope whoever wins chooses to do a lot of good.

Sure, buy all your fancy stuff. Treat yourself, especially if you're one of those who've worked their fingers to the bone for decades. But then start giving it away.

I don't know about you, but I think I would have the most fun making people happy with it. When the local Little League team's bus breaks down, you swoop in and buy them a new one. Some lowlife steals all the air conditioners from the local church just to support his meth habit and you show up the next day with a truckload of new ones. A family's house burns down and you put them up at the Ritz until it's rebuilt. Those kinds of things are what I'd look forward to if I won. I think that'd be a lot more fun than trying to see how big of a house I could build.

I've heard many express the same sentiment, which gives me hope for the world.

Of course, there's one other thing to remember: You don't have to win millions to do nice things. Maybe you can't do them on as grand of a scale, but you can still donate your time, money or effort to making a difference for someone.

Throw some change in the firefighter's boot. Help somebody with their groceries. Donate clothes or food. Volunteer.

You don't need hundreds of millions to be a philanthropist.

Email Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.