On the night of January 9th, a group of coworkers working at an average-priced Italian restaurant in New Jersey waited casually to read whether or not they had won the $1.5 billion dollar powerball lottery. They knew the odds of winning were around 1 in 292 million, but hey – lottery tickets were a paltry $2 each.
A member of the group logged on to the powerball website. They read the numbers. Someone from the group started in disbelief – they had those numbers.
They read the numbers again.
They had the $ 1-billion-dollar-winning lottery ticket.
Later, restaurant managers described the scene as “pure pandemonium.” Valets threw keys back in customers’ hands, retorting with “Go park your own car! I’m a millionaire!” A dishwasher threw his apron the floor and quit on the spot. People were hugging, crying, in fits of tears and joy. There was screaming, hysterical laughing, and revelry unlike the which the small Italian bistro had ever seen.
They had made it. Against 1 in 292 million odds of winning, they were chosen.
These lucky coworkers would be given the miracle chance of quitting their menial day jobs and…finally travel the world. Open their own business. Buy a Lamborghini, or 10. Some of the more generous may have even considered donating part of their share. Whatever the case, their old life of boring, unfulfilling, perpetual struggling was over – their new life of wealth, riches, and obscene abundance would begin.
About 20 minutes the numbers were read, someone realized there was a mistake on the Powerball website; indeed, someone at the restaurant had picked the winning ticket, but not for that day’s drawing – their lottery numbers matched the previous drawing.
In a cruel twist of fate – they didn’t win.
These people will go back to work (at least, that’s what the restaurant owners promised). This week, people will probably be jeering and mocking many of the employees at the New Jersey restaurant for looking foolish in front of a nation, but after a week or two, people will forget about it. The attention will be on the real winner, or back to normal day-to-day things.
But those employees will never forget that moment.
For many of us, we’d never want to even imagine being in their situation. For a moment, to fully believe you could have anything you wanted. To be told that you’re the recipient of untold hundreds of millions of dollars. To bask in the glory of a life you’ve always dreams of…only to come crashing back down in a flaming pile of embarrassment and indescribable disappointment.
Some of these employees may spend the rest of their lives chasing that feeling, and buy lottery tickets religiously from now on. Some of them may spend perpetual energy denying that memory even existed, avoiding the despair and resentment of having their momentary promise of obscene wealth stricken away.
But for some of them, I hope – some of them may use that feeling to actually achieve their dreams of traveling, opening a business, or finally following their passion.
Rarely does someone get a chance like that in life. That chance pulled the veil from the face of those employees’ most hidden, most secret dreams. Those images of freedom, travelling, following their passion, all became as vivid as an Imax 3D film.
The advice I would give these unfortunate folks would be to keep those images fresh, and act on them, immediately. If their dream is to continue to work at that restaurant, then so be it. But if their dream is to finally travel back home to the Philippines, or finally open that local brewery you’ve always thought about, or even just finally spending less time making money at work and more time spending time with family…
Not a single person in the entire history of the world needed a billion dollars to follow their passion. In fact, most people who achieve their dreams probably started with very little money.
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