Planning for life after lottery


That is the only word I have to describe the feat that Andy Ashkar pulled off when he won $5 million on a scratch-off lottery ticket six years ago in Syracuse, N.Y.

In 2006, Andy bought a “$500,000,000 Extravaganza” scratch-off ticket at his parents’ convenience store, the “Green Ale Market.” The ticket was sold to Andy by his father Neyef. Before anyone jumps on the conspiracy bandwagon, the lottery bureau investigated the situation, as they do anytime a winner is related to the owner of a store and the sale was legitimate according to their findings.

Andy decided to share the winnings with his brother Nayel. That is where this story takes an even more interesting turn.

The brothers decided not to tell anyone that they won, nor did they cash in their winning lottery ticket until this past March, nearly six years later.

Unlike many lottery games such as the Lotto, Mega Millions and others in which you have one year from the date of the drawing to claim your prize, winners have a year after the game has ended to turn in their tickets.

In this instance the “Extravaganza” game was retired on March 12, 2011 and Andy turned in his ticket on March 1.

Why did they wait so long, you ask? Andy told media outlets that he did not want his newfound financial windfall to be an influence in his engagement and eventual marriage to his girlfriend.

In addition, the brothers did not want the money to impact their lives in a negative way so they took the time to put plans in place to ensure things would not get out of control before coming forward.

What a fascinating turn of events. I am not sure I could wait that long to claim a prize as large as that. When I do play the lottery, if I am a $5 winner on a $2 ticket, I am as giddy as a boy waiting for the ice cream truck. I proudly declare that I made money on my little investment and it makes me feel good about myself.

Hey, it is the small victories in life, you know.

In all seriousness, though, how many of us could wait that long like they did? I know several people who say that they would prefer not to come into a large sum of money like that just because of the all the problems associated with it. I see their point and I am sure if I ever became a multi-millionaire that I would have some regrets as well.

But to have that available for college educations for my children, pay off our own student loans and other debts that we have would be awesome. In addition, my wife and I would not have to have that yearly discussion about whether we should purchase season tickets for the Kalamazoo Wings again or not. I could own the team!

That may be stretching it a bit.

I am just not sure I could do what Andy and his brother did, even if in my heart I knew it was the right thing to do. I give them all the credit in the world for doing it.

But I am the kind of guy that even if my stomach is full and I see a piece of chocolate cake sitting on the counter … I have to eat it. I do not care how full I am or how many pieces I already consumed, that cake is a goner.

Luckily for me, though, I have my wife Heather. She is the female and much more attractive version of Warren Buffett. She handles our finances and plots years down the road, sometimes to my dismay, but in the end, she keeps us afloat and ahead of the game, even when we fall behind. I guarantee you, if we ever won or came into a substantial amount of money there is a plan for how she would handle it. I have also come to terms with the fact that she probably won’t tell me what that plan is either!

Would you be able to wait six years knowing that you had won $5 million before you claimed it?

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