On Tuesday, billionaire Warren Buffett announced he was backing a contest sponsored by Quicken Loans to reward anyone who filled out a perfect NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament bracket with $US1 billion.
The news had many people excited about the prospect of winning the astronomical sum of money, despite the nearly zero per cent probability that a perfect bracket will be filled out.
Earlier today, we received the following email from Rhonda Hess, a grandmother and retired kindergarten teacher from Ohio, responding to the announcement. It is co-signed by her husband Doug.
Business Insider gets a lot emails from readers. But Rhonda’s gripe with Buffett’s prize was both heartfelt and sensible.
She reminds us that there are better ways to throw around a billion dollars than to award it to someone effectively playing the lottery.
We reproduce Rhonda’s letter below.
Our son in Colorado sent us your Warren Buffett March Madness column this morning. I know he did it because of a conversation we had with him over Christmas. I imagine you will never read this email because you will probably get thousands emails and ours will quickly be gone and deleted. I on the the other hand, will feel better for at least doing something I never do online and that is VENT. I am not one for face book or other social media stuff.
I read your Warren Buffett March Madness article with a flood of emotions. Tears. Anger. Disgust. Sadness and alright even a bit of jealousy and then defeat. My husband was a high school basketball assistant for years and at first I stupidly thought we can do this! Then, I read the article. One form per household. My chances are probably better with Publisher’s Clearinghouse. I have been filling those forms out since 1978 and that hasn’t worked out.
I can’t even imagine a billion dollars, can’t imagine having that much money to give away, and never in a million years would want a billion dollars. But for an instant…I was tempted to grab a form and a pen and start writing.
After I came to my senses, I did think that I could tell you what I could do for a lot less and it would mean a great deal more. More than you or Warren could ever imagine.
Everyone has a story. This is ours. At Christmas, we asked our visiting son. Do you think there is a foundation related to education out there that would give us a grant to pay off you kid’s college loans? We have been thinking about it trying to find some outside help. According to our college loan payment schedules we will be paying until we are 78 and in a short period of time one of our loans is going to take another monthly jump of $US200. Does not probably seem like much to a normal household budget. It will be for ours.
You see my husband taught 4th graders for 35 years and retired. He actually taught in the same school he went to as a child. I am a retired kindergarten teacher and worked in the same building. Our three sons attended there, too. We put our three sons through private Christian colleges and will never ever in a million years regret that decision even though it has cost thousands due to inflated interest rates. All three of our sons teach. One is an adjunct professor at the college level and works for an organisation that helps families, one teaches chemistry at a rural high school level, and one teaches maths in and inner city middle school. We feel so blessed they chose careers to serve families and kids. We had always thought when our retirement years came we could volunteer helping children in other places through mission trips.
Well, eighteen months ago, we retired in order to move closer to two of our sons. We have 5 grandchildren three years old and under and I babysit two of them as their mum works as a nurse. It has enables them not to go to daycare. My husband substitute teaches at the high school where one of our son’s teaches.
Life is good and don’t get me wrong, we are blessed. We have so much more than countless others in the world and we know that. We have the luxuries of a roof over our heads and a car and can pay our bills even though most months are tight. However, the college loans drag on us like a ton of bricks. With them, we have no flexibility. Now we worry about things like how we are we ever going to replace the roof or the furnace when they quit. An any type of health issue would be devastating. Our finances depend totally on our prayer life and we are very thankful, God has been faithful.
This is what got me going as I read your article. Why couldn’t Mr. Buffett’s organisation instead of giving a billion dollars to one lucky person for something as frivolous as a basketball bracket (and I had three sons that played the game and love it) could help LOTS of families that struggle to always do the right thing and never seem to get a break on the hardwood court of life. A small amount of money that would never be missed by a billionaire could make all the difference in their lives. And I am not talking about going on vacation or buying new stuff. I am talking about just surviving and the ability to make choices.
If you read this thanks for doing so. I am really struggling with hitting the send button. I do not want our sons to ever think we regret decisions we’ve made. Staying home with them in the early years was important to us, college was a fabulous experience for each of them, and moving later in life has been an adventure. And we dearly adore being close to our grandchildren! We have no regrets with decisions we have made in terms of our family and cherish the close relationships we have with each of them. That is really what life is about, isn’t it?
You may also wonder about the email address. It is “snowday” because those were “special” days to our kids growing up. They got pancakes or a hot cooked breakfast on those days when school was cancelled due to bad weather and we didn’t have to rush out the door to help other kids.
Have a good day.
Thanks for letting me vent. The blood pressure is slowly going down.
And our kids call us…Diz and Riz.