Gary Rotstein's The Morning File: Read this if you just won the $149 million


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Someone local (presumably) won $149 million when purchasing a Mega Millions lottery ticket in White Oak before Tuesday evening's drawing.

Let's end the suspense here, if you were wondering (and if I owe you money): It wasn't me.

But it was so close to being me -- I've often left work on a Tuesday thinking I should buy a lottery ticket at White Oak Gas & Grocery, only to be stymied by the realization that I have no idea where White Oak is -- that it does get the mind racing as to what a normal, sane person wanting to better the region might do with $149 million. (Although it's questionable what a normal, sane person would be doing buying Mega Millions tickets, considering the 1-in-258,890,850 chance of winning the jackpot.)

Here's the spending breakdown I came up with on the back of a napkin, which as we know is where all great thoughts start:

• $10 million to help the Pirates acquire a good starting pitcher before the chance of coming close to repeating last year's success entirely evaporates. (It's only mostly evaporated, currently.)

• $7 million to enable the city of Pittsburgh to double its budget for street repaving and eliminate potholes forever (or, at least, for a year maybe).

• $1 million to throw a bash in Point State Park for any of the local same-sex couples who want to celebrate new marriages, who should follow it by going back inside their homes to bother one another with arguments over money, child-raising, household chores and the rest of the daily minutiae that challenge all married couples.

• $3.5 million to fund a commando Stallone-style strike team to swoop into China and forcibly extradite those five military geeks who hacked into computers of great Pittsburgh corporate institutions such as U.S. Steel and Westinghouse. (How dare they resort to subterfuge to obtain the type of secret information that our own National Security Agency could get much easier using its global eavesdropping system.)

• $25 million for payments to television stations across Pennsylvania to compensate them for doing us the favor of keeping advertisements from Tom Corbett and Tom Wolf off the airwaves between now and Nov. 4.

• $1.8 million to pay for some giant but cute inflatable of a Pittsburgh-related object that would float on the rivers throughout the summer -- maybe one depicting a Smiley Cookie, or Jackie Evancho.

• $6 million to double Jeffrey Romoff's compensation for a year if it's what it takes to have him reach some reasonable agreement with Highmark to continue a business relationship that somehow works to the benefit of local health care consumers.

• $1.2 million to the Pittsburgh Film Office if it can arrange for the next movie Kate Winslet has a role in to do its filming here.

• $15.5 million to the Port Authority to help it create some kind of high-speed transit between Downtown and Oakland, whether by dedicated bus lanes, light rail transit, an underground tunnel, an overhead elevated train, Skybus, pedicabs, flying monkeys with seats on their backs or other means.

• $20 million as matching funds to help the redevelopers of the August Wilson Center and Strip District produce terminal -- whomever they turn out to be -- revive them as regional attractions any Pittsburgher would be proud to take an out-of-town visitor to see.

• $100,000 per pound, up to a $3 million maximum, as incentive to Mayor Bill Peduto to match the 30 pounds lost by his buddy, county Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and set a healthy weight-loss example for his constituents to emulate.

• $6 million to enable the Steelers to tack on another 1,000 seats to their Heinz Field expansion plan, just to reduce the likelihood of another tiresome argument arising soon afterward that they need still more seats and want a public agency to pay for them.

That's $100 million or so of the $149 million, and I'd be happy to have the rest help cover children's nutrition services, local college tuition assistance, police-community liaison initiatives and other social service improvements.

Or maybe, to benefit everyone, it should just be used to do something about the weather.

But that would only be if I had a winning Mega Millions ticket from White Oak Gas & Grocery. Next Tuesday, I certainly intend to Google it for directions prior to leaving work.


Gary Rotstein: grotstein@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1255.

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