How College Students Would Have Spent the $1.5 Billion Lottery Prize

Chandler: “What are you going to do if we win?”

Ross: “I don’t know, probably just invest it.”

Chandler: “Ooo, calm down.”

Joey: “Seriously? That’s your fantasy? To invest it?”

Ross: “Oh I’m sorry, did I say invest it? I meant be cool and piss it all away”


On January 12th, the North American Power Ball, played in 44 states, grew to the astounding $1.5 billion.  This record broke the previous of $656 million from March 2012.  The entire jackpot, if the immediate cash pay method is chosen, was worth $930 million.  After many drawings resulting in no winner, there were three who split the money.  

As a college student who lives paycheck to paycheck, and prays that care packages from grandparents might also behold a check, there were many “what-ifs” when it came to thinking about how one would spend the money.  Some might say it’s a lot of trips all over the world.  Others might take on the life of the Kardashians.  And there’s some who might just think, “wow, I could take care of so many dogs in my new mansion.” 

However, when I began asking this question to my friends, the answers were very practical and more “grown up” than I expected.  And when I asked more and more people they began saying the same exact same things:


  1. Pay off college for myself and siblings
  2. Buy apartment / house
  3. Pay off my parents’ house
  4. Help family with money problems
  5. Donate to a charity 


I found these answers very interesting, especially because college students complain about lacking in the bank account area from August until they get their jobs at home back in May.  Many financial decisions are made around sport or sorority/ fraternity dues, book costs, and those purchases made while half unconscious during class.  Tagging along to an off campus food outing might in fact just be tagging along and saving the table and giving your friends those puppy dog eyes until the napkin in front of you is filled with French fries and hushpuppies.  

Even with the insane purchases we see walking across campus, it was pretty amazing, from my perspective, to find that while some students are miles and miles away from home and their families and try to avoid those family skype sessions, they still put them first and would do anything to keep them happy and help them out before spending a dime on themselves.  So, to the families that wake up to homemade cards on Christmas mornings, your children want to give you much more.

However, I decided I wanted to know what crazy things they would do for themselves too.  After asking friends and friends of friends how they would spend the money and getting the same answer over and over I rephrased the question and asked “What’s the most exciting thing you would do with the money for yourself”?  These are the responses I received:

  1. Travel the world
  2. Rebuild my wardrobe
  3. Go to the Olympics
  4. Climb Machu Picchu
  5. Buy a turn table
  6. Invest in a soccer team/ small businesses
  7. Buy a yacht
  8. Eat through Italy
  9. Start a business

10. Swim in every ocean

11. Buy a bunch of houses, a couple cars, and a really really nice boat

    12. Travel through Europe

    13. Buy a car and road drip all over the U.S.

    14. Buy a waterpark 

    15. Donate to Bernie Sanders

    16. Get a few pet cats

    17. Buy a car with wooden wheels

    18. Hire best chefs in the world to cook dinner every night

    19. Travel first class in a luxury plane

    20. Buy a bakery bus (like a food truck)

    21. Buy a private plane to travel anywhere and everywhere    22. Buy a VW bus and go road tripping

    23. Travel and volunteer in different countries

    24. Buy a Disney vacation club season pass/ membership/time share

    25. Move to Spain/ somewhere in Europe and start up a soccer career


And my personal favorite, “Give it all to you!”