21. A Big Lottery Winner
A 58-year-old grandmother in Massachusetts won one of the biggest prizes in U.S. history—$294 million. If she had taken the 26-year payout, Doris Stevens would have received $11 million a year for 26 years, before taxes.
Mrs. Stevens decided to take the lump sum payment. People who take the lump sum get paid within 60 days, but their total payment is reduced by almost 40 percent. Mrs. Stevens's lump sum was $168 million, but after the federal tax was applied, she received $110 million. That's the amount that Mrs. Stevens got to put in her purse.
Recently divorced, Stevens says that her ex-husband has already called her to ask about a "loan." She laughed. "I wouldn't lend him a quarter to call the police if he was getting robbed. Let him borrow money from his new young girlfriend who makes him so happy."
What is she going to do with her windfall? "Well, the first thing I'm going to do is to help out my children and grandchildren, of course. Next, I hope to revolutionize the housecleaning industry."
A housecleaner for her entire life, Mrs. Stevens says she's going to establish a National Housecleaner Helper Corporation. Her corporation would focus on giving seed money to various individuals and research firms to develop more efficient and more powerful housecleaning solvents and tools.
"When was the last time you saw something new in housecleaning?" Mrs. Stevens asked. "They keep claiming they've invented new products that remove any and all blemishes, but they still haven't invented a product that removes an ordinary ballpoint ink stain from your ordinary white shirt. This industry needs some new products. I hope to revolutionize the cleaning world, so that my 'sisters' will have an easier time of it in the future. We've all spent too much time on our hands and knees. If men had to do housecleaning, you know that they'd be inventing more powerful products every week."
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