Thursday, March 20, 2014

What Would You Do With that Billion Dollars?

"Dude, now that I got that billy, all we doin' is poppin champ and watchin' football!"-Me in the future
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe) and Friends

By now I think most people have heard about the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge.

Even my parents know about it. My dad's already planning how he's going to stop my mom from spending the winnings too quickly, so you know this thing has gone mainstream. If you don't fully understand it, allow me to explain.

1. Yes, if you fill out a perfect NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket, Warren Buffett will give you a billion bucks. Like, billion with a "b."

2. No, you will not fill out a perfect bracket, as this Grantland article reminds us. They give a bunch of odds and numbers for how unlikely it is, but let's just say you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning, while in the tractor beam of an alien spaceship that is abducting you, shortly after you had a wild night with Olivia Wilde and Katy Perry.

So… You're saying there's a chance!

Anyways, there is no way I, or anyone I know, or anyone at all, is winning this money, but that doesn't mean we can't talk about how awesome it would be. Here's what I'd do with my money:

So, the first thing you have to realize is that, even though you're winning $1 billion, you're only getting like half that after taxes. This is because Obama is a fascist-socialist Muslim terrorist, and Americans never had to pay taxes before he was elected.

It's a damn shame, really, that Mitt didn't win. Then I, as a job creator, would have a lot more money to trickle down.

Anyways, with my $500 some-million, the first thing I'm doing is buying a bunch of newspapers.

But Joe, aren't newspapers dying all over the country?

Hell yeah they are, and that's how I'm gonna get them on the cheap. The New York Times just sold The Boston Globe for $70 million, but even more shockingly, The Tampa Bay Tribune sold for just 9.5 freaking million dollars in 2012, and things have gotten worse since then for smaller papers.

You can own the news in a mid-sized market for less than $10 million? Sign me up for that!

I figure a year or two more lean years for terrible papers across the country, and I could buy every relevant midmajor paper in the country for less than $100 million.

Would I make the necessary changes to fix a broken and dated business model, focusing on enterprise journalism and "big data" reports? How about slideshows and essential lifestyle pieces?

Hell no, I would just make everyone read my stupid sports columns.

Oh yeah, then I'd use $200 million on mansions, yachts, planes, caviar (I already have some caviar plates!) Cristal champagne and throwback Steelers jerseys.

Bottle of Cristal: Check. "Mean" Joe Greene jersey: Check. Awesome curly hair: Checkmate.
I'd spend most of the year living in Vegas, where I would watch football and gamble away another $100 million (or win another $100 million. Right?), but then I'd take $25 million and invest it responsibly… Into a series of Joe Parello themed sports bars, with menu items inspired by my now-infamous midmarket sports columns!

Another $25 million would be used to bribe referees so that the Steelers win the Super Bowl every year, and for buying Super Bowl tickets. Holla!

The other $50 million… Let's just say that if Purdue is suddenly bringing in the nation's No.1 football and basketball recruiting classes every year, and all their players are driving pimped out Escalades, I may have something to do with that.

If you're getting the feeling that I might not be the best guy to give a ton of money to, you're probably right.

That's why my wife Caity would never let me do any of that. Hey, speaking of her...

Caity: Joe's wife

Someone told me once that the reason we pay the three bucks to play the lottery isn’t really for the chance at winning millions. That rather, we pay because doing so gives us the opportunity to spend a few days day dreaming about what we’d do if we won the money. My Dad said that your chances of winning the lottery are actually better then you chances of getting a perfect bracket, but hey, filling out a bracket didn’t cost me anything, so I call that a draw.

First, the question on everyone’s minds (well, everyone reading this who knows me, anyway): will I finish my PhD if I win? Obviously. I’ve spent almost four years in this program, you better believe I’m going to get to put “Dr.” before my name. In fact, I wouldn’t even move out of the building our condo is in. That is because I’d buy the building. I’d have to buy out each individual condo owner, and then I’d have to transform the six floor building full of single apartments into one with an open concept floor plan that flowed with a modern lifestyle. Flow would be important: big, multi-floor houses have a definite Scooy-Doo-esque creep factor.

While our dream mansion was being redone to our exact specifications, that billion dollars would go towards financing a heck of a vacation. It would be great to visit, well, anywhere. Amsterdam, India, Israel and Brazil would all be on the list. We’d of course do Cape Town at Christmas, because it’s beautiful then.

The tournament starts this Thursday. I anticipate my bracket being fully busted by Thursday night. But for the three days of day dreaming, the ten minutes it took to fill out my bracket were worth it.

Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin): Joe's buddy and co-editor 

Joe is being overly pessimistic with his claim that half the money will be stolen away from you by the tax-hungry fascist government. According to this Forbes article, you would only be paying $394,213,920, leaving you with slightly over $600 million to play around with. 

My first order of business would be to buy an NBA team. Tom Benson bought the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) in 2012 for $338 million. That number is a bit low, as it was a bit of a shotgun marriage between Benson and the NBA, which had taken over operations of the team. The Milwaukee Bucks, allegedly are very available for any buyer who wants to keep the team in Milwaukee. With $600 million burning a hole in my pocket, I'd be more than happy to oblige. 

Forbes lists the Bucks as worth slightly more than $400 million, but with how the sales of NBA teams have gone in recent years, you'd probably need at least 25% more than that to pull it off. Now, I wouldn't be fronting all $500 million, only about $275 million for a majority share, while other groups would fill in the rest. I'd set aside another $125 million for operating expenses for the team, leaving me with about $200 million. 

$200 million seems like a bit too much money to just save for a rainy day, so I'd buy up a whole swath of residential real estate in whatever the nicest neighborhood in Milwaukee is. I'd use one of the buildings to house any and all of my friends who want to live rent-free (admittedly, I can't imagine my friends in New York would be too keen on moving to Milwaukee). It would be like college all over again, only without the classes and responsibility. The rest of the buildings I would rent and lease out to the cultural elite of the city - this would be my cash flow.

Whatever money left over would go towards generic every-day items. I'd need a half-dozen personal chefs, each with a different specialty. I'd need a home brewery to make my own beer. Maybe a distillery to make whiskey, also. I would put a full-sized movie theater in my home. You know, the standard stuff. 

When I was in 5th grade, I did a project where we had to spend one million dollars. Most kids bought reasonable houses and then decked them out with crazy stuff. Inevitably, we found ourselves with a few thousand dollars left over and had to make up some expense to cover the difference (I claimed I would buy an antique desk). In that spirit, I can only assume that my above-listed pursuits to spend all the money would come up short. By how much, I have no idea. But however much it was, I would use it to establish a college scholarship in my name, which would go to the student who I feel would best replicate my own college experience - rarely (if ever) going to classes in which attendance was not required, partying way too much, spending way too much time playing Halo and arguing about basketball with their roommates, and finally graduating by the narrowest of narrow margins, complete with a full-on heart attack at the end of senior year when they calculate that they don't have enough credits to graduate before realizing (but not for several hours) that they forgot to include their transfer credits from summer courses and AP classes in high school. 

That's how I'd spend a billion dollars. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to carry on my tradition of losing my perfect bracket during the first set of games on the first day of the tournament. 

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