“If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day,
so I never have to live without you.”
Winnie the Pooh quote on Friendship
This is a true story.
There were six of them – each one retired and receiving his pension and social security benefits. They have been friends since they were young kids growing up in a small town in North Carolina. Everyone remained in this hometown; either living with their spouses, or with their adult children.
They were seemingly inseperable – whiling away their free time engaged in redundant discussions about their individual aches and maladies, reminiscing about their younger days, and sharing the trials and tribulations of their children and grandchildren. For fun, they each chip in equal amounts of loose change towards the purchase of a weekly lottery ticket with six numbers they had all chosen and agreed upon. The ticket costs a dollar.
However, a couple of years had gone by and they were still without any significant lotto winning to speak of. Subsequently, everyone’s interest in it diminished, but their daily routine remained as it was. Unbeknownst to all the rest, the one designated to collect the money and make the weekly purchase continued to do so – buying a ticket with the group’s six numbers, but this time, with only his own money.
And lo and behold, one Saturday evening during a lotto drawing, the group’s six numbers came up. The jackpot prize amounted to several million dollars! The friend who kept buying the ticket is now a multi-millionaire.
His five friends consequently learned of his windfall, but even before then he had already decided to give each one a substantial amount as good gesture. His five friends refused to accept what they deemed a mere “token gesture.” What they wanted are equal shares to the multi-million dollar jackpot, claiming the six numbers belonged to the entire group; that is, even if they had stopped chipping in to buy the weekly ticket a long time ago. The friend holding the winning ticket remained adamant, while the rest of his friends eventually sued him.
This story was a segment of CBS’ news magazine, 60 Minutes, aired about 20 years ago. It was a poignant piece, which left me feeling sad on that Sunday evening. I never found out the ultimate outcome of this story.
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