Against all odds

March 4, 2009 1:57:39 PM PST
For all of us who snicker at our against-all-odds co-workers who band together and buy lottery tickets when the jackpot creeps up into the gazillions - snicker no more!

Ten folks who work for Chubb Insurance in Toms River, New Jersey, pooled their money and, bada-bing, picked the winning Mega Millions numbers last night. The jackpot: A cool $216 million.

If they take the current cash value, it is whittled down to a measly $140.6 million, less the 25% federal withholding tax.

So if my math is correct, that would mean each person would get $10.5 million, and a whole lot of friends and cousins they didn't have yesterday.

I know many people fantasize about what they would do with all that money. The truth is that most people, especially with those new friends and family members, could blow through $10.5 million fairly fast. A new home here, a couple new cars there, a few loans for those newly found relatives, a vacation or two, and just like that, the money's blown.

It was fascinating to hear the lottery official advise the winners to consult a financial expert before they even claim the money. I suspect he knows what he's talking about, and has seen his share of winners who become overwhelmed by their sudden wealth.

Of course, getting hosed by opportunistic new best friends probably isn't on the minds of these latest millionaires. We'll hear from them, tonight at 11.

Speaking of winning the lottery, that's what seems to be happening to some athletes these days. We know the Yankees and the Mets, fresh from having taxpayers shoulder some of the costs of building their new stadiums, took a "what-recession?" approach to buying players during the off-season.

And today, two more examples. We start with Kurt Warner, the quarterback who led the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl this year, today agreed to a two-year contract worth $23 million.

And Manny Ramirez, the quirky but talented outfielder with the L.A. Dodgers, have reached a preliminary agreement on a two-year deal worth --- excuse me while I clear my throat -- $45 million.

And, hey, even non-superstars are doing well! Former Jets wide receiver Laveranues Coles signed a four-year, $28 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals today.

Mama, please let your babies grow up to be ballplayers.

Also at 11, some worried parents will gather tonight at Fort Lee High School in New Jersey to hear Board of Education officials disclose their investigation into a grade-changing scandal. As many as 60 transcripts were "fixed" over the past six years, by college counselors and administrators, ostensibly to make sure students got into "selected" colleges.

No indication that students who got into the colleges of their choices will be affected; but there are many seniors now awaiting word from universities, and they could most certainly be hurt. Jeff Pegues had our story last night; he's there again for us tonight.

And kudos to Mayor Bloomberg's top deputy Ed Skyler, who knocked down a mugger in midtown Manhattan after he heard a woman screaming that she had just been robbed.

Skyler - who's tall enough to be a pro-basketball player (but hey, with Nate Robinson of the Knicks playing so well, who isn't?) - was apparently on his way to dinner last night when he saw some teenagers running, and then heard a woman yelling she'd been robbed.

Skyler knocked one of the muggers down -- but the other teens soon surrounded him. There was a skirmish - and then all the teens got away.

Skyler didn't capture the thieves, but he did get the woman's cell phone back.

You'll hear from Skyler tonight about his new-found bravery. Who knew? Maybe if thieves knew average citizens could, at any moment, turn the tables, then crime might be reduced.

And for anyone who doesn't think that Rush Limbaugh doesn't really, truly, for-sure believe he is in charge of a huge chunk of the country, consider this: Today, the controversial radio talk show host challenged President Obama. The pitch was that the debate will determine who will "own the United State of America."

"You're a very courageous man, Mr. President," said Limbaugh. "I am, after all, just The Last Man Standing. If you take me out, if you can wipe me out in a debate and prove to the rest of America that what I say is senseless and wrong, do you realize you will own the United States of America? You will have no opposition."

So let me get this right. Limbaugh believes he's the only one standing in the way of Mr. Obama and political unanimity?

Look up "inflated ego" and I suspect a picture of the former pro baseball marketing executive might appear.

Oh, and no response yet from the White House.

And don't hold your breath for one.

And finally, we know it's not scientific, but it might be instructive. Our informal website poll on 7online.Com last night about The Bachelor outcome, where the clearly confused bachelor dumped one woman, got engaged to another, then dumped her, and then went back to dumped woman number one, brought some fascinating responses.

35% wish both women had dumped him. 20% don't think he knows what he wants.

18% think he went with his heart. 12% think it was a dirty trick for national attention.

10% think he should have been honest with the second dumped woman from the start.

5% wonder who can really find true love on a TV show.

Looking back, it's too bad we didn't have an "all of the above" category. Thanks for "voting."

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast (warmer weather's coming), and Scott Clark with the night's sports, including the latest on Alex Rodriguez's hip injury. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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