What would you do with $25 million?

This week our columnist talks about what is on everybody's mind lately: what to do after winning the $25 million Lotto Max

What must it feel like to win a $25 million Lotto draw as Bob Erb did last week? Once the stunned realization sinks in, do you feel elated? Giddy? Apprehensive? Never having won anything in my life, I have no yardstick.

Do most winners have a wish list they can turn to when luck treats them kindly? What that wish list contains would say a lot about the winner. Does the list include helping family with tuition or mortgage costs? A winter vacation to Belize? A mansion to rival Celine’s? Maybe a gas range with burners that light without a match?

Judging by media reports of others’ experiences following a sizeable lottery win, this could be the beginning of months of bombardment as everyone within reach whether by person, mail, phone or internet begs to share a chunk of his winnings.

Oprah — she of multiple millions from her regular work — advised lottery winners to hire an accountant, and a legal advisor to field requests while keeping the winner aloof. “Otherwise,” she said, “a winner can be hounded until the money becomes a misery.” When tackled personally for a “gift”, Oprah’s stalling tactic is to say, “Let me pray on it before deciding.”

But what of the winner who is a stranger to sums larger than a weekly pay cheque who nevertheless opts to go it alone? If a person has never kept track of any amount larger, would they be able to bookkeep so they know how much they’ve spent, how much remains, and apply the brakes before they end up as poor – in some cases, poorer – than they were before becoming a millionaire?

Like the lottery winner in the Yukon who lived in what resembled a salvage yard, who bought new trucks for friends and otherwise lived large. In no time he was destitute.

My first question would be, did the bank of Erb’s choice demand any special proof before they accepted his winning cheque for deposit? (I’m assuming Erb would deposit the money, not carry the cheque in his wallet until the creases cut through.) I pose this question in light of recent media reports some B.C. banks have refused to honour legal powers of attorney, thus leaving seniors unable to buy replacement glasses and other necessities with their own funds.

While I understand and appreciate banks efforts to protect vulnerable seniors from scams, or elder abuse by unscrupulous relatives aiming to fleece them of their money, in some cases B.C. banks have gone too far. One bank even required the aged senior to appear at their wicket in person before they would release funds from her account. She was in a wheelchair, in excruciating pain and general poor health.

I have never met Erb, but those who know him describe him as a worthy recipient.

A delicatessen clerk in a convenience store where Erb frequently bought coffee or a sandwich recalls him as friendly, polite, courteous to store staff, a teller of jokes acceptable in any company.

A former Terrace Standard reporter who covered local elections posted on Facebook, “I knew Erb when he ran as a Marijuana Party candidate in Terrace. Made for interesting campaigns.”

Terrace co-worker Jordan Smoley told the CBC, “The winnings couldn’t come to a nicer guy. He’s a really friendly, outgoing guy and he always volunteers at the homeless shelter, and he is a contributing member of the community and , yeah, just a really good guy.”

In another interview, 60-year-old Erb said he plans to continue working in his construction trade.

I think this is a sensible tack. The more he can maintain his normal life style, the smoother his future should be as he copes with pressure from his hundreds of new best friends all holding their hands out.

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