Thursday, May 28, 2009

28 MAY 09: Millions in My Mind

Columbus Regional announced plans Wednesday for a new "Women's and Children's Health Center." It will require a new building, and cost around $30 million -- so don't be surprised if the annual fund-raising Celebrity Classic is extended to four weeks.

There are other ways Columbus Regional could get that $30 million. One way is simply to have employees watch and answer their e-mails -- because total nobodies seem to win "online lotteries" all the time. And the best part is that they don't have to wait in line at convenience stores, while people in front of them buy cartons of cigarettes.

You may have noticed an occasional "Online Lottery Winnings" line at the bottom of our posts recently. Today we can explain it's a two-month count of e-mails which declared me a big winner. We're only counting contests and lotteries here - not the giveaway offers which seem to keep coming from the widows of African dictators.

Without even prowling through the "spam" section of our e-mails, we've amazingly won FIVE online lotteries since early April. This beats getting up early and putting on nice clothes, in case Publishers Clearing House comes to your door....

Three of the online lottery wins came in an eight-day span, around the U.S. income tax filing deadline. In fact, the biggest prize of $6.8 million was declared mine on 15 April. How the companies doing the drawing knew I owed money this year, I have no idea.

But here's the strange thing - four of my five online prize winnings were in British pounds, so I had to compute them into U.S. dollars. All of these lotteries seem to take place in Europe or Asia. You'd think someone would try to break the mold, and stage a lottery from a gambling boat off the Georgia coast.

The two-month test ends with our online lottery total at $12,935,779. Well, at least that's what I was promised. But I've received no checks to this point. If these drawings are smart enough to find my e-mail address from out of nowhere, you'd think they'd know my home address as well.

But to be fair, I haven't bothered replying to any of the e-mails telling me I've won millions of dollars. It's because I know better - NOT because I hit an online poker jackpot instead.

Back in the LaughLine era, I actually responded to an online lottery victory announcement. That one claimed to be a drawing by the Spanish Foreign Ministry -- and like so many other online giveaways, it required me to send some money to get the jackpot. Ask them to deduct my "handling fee" and mail the rest, and I might as well have asked them to negotiate with North Korea.

Hopefully you realize the overseas online lotteries are scams, promising you millions to take away several thousands. If any of the drawings are legitimate, please let me know - and for a small one-time charge, I'll be glad to share your story.

(In the case of the Spanish online lottery, I actually forwarded my online correspondence to the REAL Foreign Ministry office in Madrid. I don't know if that ever led to an investigation or arrests. Considering all the messages both ways were in English, they might have been deleted.)

So here's my idea: Columbus Regional staff members try to claim online lottery winnings. If the companies overseas refuse to turn over the money, sue them for it. The Medical Center may wind up with that $30 million - if not from a jury, from its attorney needing a big tax deduction to reduce the income from all those legal fees.

There's one online area where I still dream of a real payday - at Internet poker tables. On Wednesday, my make-believe bankroll at Yahoo hit a record high of more than $13,000. Maybe if I had started playing before the Internet stock bubble burst....

Now let's check other news, from a Wednesday which admittedly didn't thrill me too much:

+ Georgia Congressman Nathan Deal visited Columbus, to kick off his campaign for Governor. I can't wait for Howie Mandel to appear with him and ask voters the big question - "Deal or no Deal?"

(Nathan Deal is getting attention because of his proposal in Congress to change the rules for U.S. citizenship by birth. Deal admitted he's proposed the change three times before - and that kind of successful track record in Washington is bound to impress Georgia Republicans.)

. + The Russell County Commission gave Sheriff Tommy Boswell approval to seek a state grant, to install cameras inside patrol cars. The grant money is left over from Hurricane Katrina - which leaves me wondering why Alabama officials don't hold that money for the next hurricane. Now THAT would be a real "rainy day fund."

+ Columbus's four outdoor city pools opened for the summer. I assume the city already has saved money this season, by letting rainstorms fill the pools naturally.

+ A doctor told WLTZ Russell County has been declared a "hot spot" for rabies by the Alabama state veterinarian. All residents are advised NOT to leave the bathroom with foaming toothpaste in their mouths.

+ WRBL visited Gold and Silver Trading Center, where manager Bob Upchurch declared: "It's hard to rap when gold costs 950 dollars an ounce." Wow - you can't make up rhymes about gangster shootings unless you have a gold chain around your neck?!

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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