Greg Cote

Greg Cote: What to buy with your Powerball winnings — how about 26.4 million baseballs or an NHL team?

Arnoldo Muller shows off his Powerball tickets bought Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016 in Coral Gables.
Arnoldo Muller shows off his Powerball tickets bought Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016 in Coral Gables. rkoltun@elnuevoherald.com

Guilty. I admit it. I was among the millions who plunged money into the Powerball as the prize engorged Wednesday night to an obscene $1.5 billion. I’m not a lottery player and normally laugh to myself at the silly dreamers in line to place their hopeless sucker bets. Now I was one of them, with nothing but greed to blame.

A redefinition of optimism for all time: If you liked your numbers. Thought you had a good shot to win.

Your mathematical odds were 1 in 292.2 million, only slightly worse if you didn’t buy a ticket. You are more likely to be struck by lightning — twice — while performing a handstand on a three-legged unicorn as it wins the Kentucky Derby.

A friend asked what I would do with the money if I won.

I had no idea what to say, dumbstruck by something so incomprehensible.

My friend said, “I’d buy the Dolphins, fire everybody and start over.”

I think he was serious. (Sorry, Adam Gase. We hardly knew ye.)

It got me to wondering what you actually could do in sports, what you could buy, with a windfall like that. First, some quick math is required.

They keep calling it a $1.5 billion jackpot, but it really isn’t. That would be the total (before taxes) if you opted for annul payments spread out over 30 years. Most would take the one-time, lump-sum payment, which would be $930 million before taxes.

Of all of your relatives who would have their hand out, Uncle Sam would be first in line. Federal taxes would reduce that jackpot to $561.7 million, then state and local taxes could further reduce your actual take to around $422.2 million. That, assuming you held the only winning numbers, would be only 28 percent of that supposed $1.5 billion.

Although “only” might not be the right word there. I doubt the holder of the winning ticket would require a second job to make ends meet.

But they also might be surprised, as my friend was, that his $422.2 million wouldn’t go far or buy much in the realm of major American professional sports.

You would be asked to enter through the servant’s quarters with that kind of net worth as a franchise owner, and you couldn’t afford to buy any teams in the Big Four sports except in hockey.

You would be way out-priced in the NFL, where the Dolphins are mid-pack with a value of $1.85 billion and the least valuable Buffalo Bills are worth $1.4 billion. (The St. Louis Rams are worth a meager $1.45 billion, which is why they’re headed back to Los Angeles.)

In the NBA, the Heat barely makes the top 10 with a value of $1.175 billion, and the least-valuable Milwaukee Bucks have a $600 million price tag.

In baseball, even the Marlins, ranked 29th, are worth $650 million, just ahead of the last-place Tampa Bay Rays.

Hockey is your sport, Powerball Winner. Fifteen NHL teams are valued at less than your $422.2 million, and that includes the bargain-bin Florida Panthers at a league-low $186 million.

Yes, you would be rich with your $422.2 million lottery take.

Relatively speaking, at least.

Heat owner Micky Arison is worth $7.7 billion. Wait, it became $8 billion while I was typing that sentence. In the time it takes you to say “Micky Arison,” he just made enough money to buy Denmark.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is worth $6.5 billion. (You, as the Powerball winner, could afford to pick up the tab on Ross’ $350 million stadium renovation. But why would you want to?)

Panthers owner Vinnie Viola is worth $2.1 billion. He reportedly recently sold a six-story Upper East Side townhouse in New York for $114 million.

Poor Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. His net worth is a mere $500 million. Shall we stage a fundraiser?

You, as Powerball winner, would not be team-owner-rich but you would be wealthier than any South Florida athlete. That honor now belongs to the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton, who is making $325 million over 13 years.

That equates to him making about $50,000 per at-bat.

Big deal.

Your $422.2 million equates to you getting $115,671 per day, every day, for the next 10 years — and all you did was have incredible dumb luck.

With your lottery winnings, you could buy 5,630 Zamboni machines and magnanimously donate them to needy hockey teams.

You could buy 26.4 million official major-league baseballs.

You could also afford to purchase approximately 16,885 Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophies.

Poor Stephen Ross. With all those billions and no matter how much he spends, he can’t seem to even buy one.

Read Greg’s Random Evidence blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote.

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