What would you do with $1.5 billion?

By Michael Johnson - michaeljohnson@civitasmedia.com

The Powerball jackpot that has grown to an eye-opening $1.5 billion will be drawn tonight, and people who normally don’t buy lottery tickets are flocking to area outlets to purchase a ticket or two and have a hand in their chance at the record prize.

Ohio Valley Publishing on Monday asked on its Facebook page, “What would you do with $1.3 BILLION (now up to $1.4 billion to $1.5 billion) if you win the Powerball jackpot?” The response was slim, with four posts to the Daily Tribune’s Facebook page and one to The Daily Sentinel’s page. There were no responses from the Point Pleasant Register’s Facebook page.

But before we get to those responses, here’s a reality check: The winner or winners will not receive all $1.5 billion. Taking the cash option rather than an annuity, which man financial advisors suggest for people 35 and older, leaves just $930 million before taxes. The feds will take a chunk — 39.6 percent to be precise, the rate at which big jackpots are taxed — costing about $368 million, reducing the winnings to $562 million.

And don’t forget state and local income taxes, if they apply. Tax rates on high-income individuals in many states range from 5 to 10 percent. Using the 7.5 percent median approach, state income tax would lop off another $42 million, leaving the jackpot winner with a not-to-shabby $520 million.

Here’s a look at what one can buy with all that dough:

  • Nine private islands, including Bonefish Cay, a small 6-acre island in the Bahamas priced at $720,000, and a 110-acre island off the coast of Thailand for $160 million.
  • 23 new Gulfstream G650 private jets at $65 million a pop.
  • 53 1956 Ferraris valued at $28 million each.
  • 1.5 billion items off the McDonald’s $1 menu.
  • Purchase the Baltimore Ravens for $1.5 billion and move them back to Cleveland.
  • Purchase both the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals.

The following are all five responses to our question from followers of our respective Facebook pages:

Debbie Simms: Cash the check to make sure I won, put some money in the bank to live on the rest of my life, help my chidren and grandchildren get what they need, pay taxes, and help those who need help.

Jerry L. Molnar: I’d buy church buses for the churches in & around our area to get the kids in church.

Bobbie Stutes: I would help my family pay off (their) homes and bills. Send grandchildren to college. Also would want to build homes for the homeless. Give money to charity and churches so everyone could live a better life. Then I want to buy an island and move away and travel.

Carla Pasquale: My family would get a home, car and nice bank account. We would have a vacation home to share. I would fund a perfect dementia nursing home and set up something to help people in need, those who try and struggle and I would also set up a fund to pay for services for children lost too soon … since I lost 2 grandchildren of my own. Simply giving out money would be a dream come true. Paying for layaways, buying random groceries, how awesome would that be.

Paige Cleek: Donate!

By Michael Johnson


Reach Michael Johnson at 740-446-2342, ext. 2102, or on Twitter @OhioEditorMike.

Reach Michael Johnson at 740-446-2342, ext. 2102, or on Twitter @OhioEditorMike.