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The Scoop - How much will we gamble?

According to the Tennessee Lottery, there could be a $50,000 winner among us. Have you checked your lottery ticket lately?

Lottery spokeswoman Kym Gerlock confirmed to the Standard a lottery player who bought their ticket in McMinnville won $50,000 on Saturday night by matching four of the five white numbers plus the red Powerball. Gerlock says the lucky winner has 180 days to claim their prize.

"Typically, it's claimed within the first couple of weeks," Gerlock told me on Wednesday. "Sometimes they come in the very next day but usually it's within a few weeks."

Until that winner emerges, we'll have to speculate about who among us will soon be $50,000 richer, or roughly $30,000 richer after taxes. I know a woman who won $20,000 playing the lottery some five years ago and she contends, after my repeated requests for money, she "only" took home $12,000 after taxes.

I don't normally use the word "only" before $12,000, but that same formula would give this winner some $30,000 after taxes. That would be a nice sum to carry around in your wallet, but it won't be a life-changing, quit-your-job jackpot.

The topic of gambling has been a hot one this week after the United States Supreme Court ruled there should be no barriers to prevent sports gambling in all 50 states. Nevada can no longer hold what's been a monopoly on sports betting.

New Jersey, West Virginia, Delaware and Mississippi are states which are ready to pounce, with officials from those states estimating they can have sports gambling up and running in a matter of weeks.

Here in our beloved Tennessee, we allow gambling in the form of a lottery, but only because it's in the name of education. I wonder if our state lawmakers will get behind sports gambling if it too can be rationalized for education.

State Sen. Brian Kelsey said on his Twitter account Monday, "I plan to introduce legislation to allow sports betting in TN with the tax proceeds to go to K-12 education."

The plan could very well encourage gambling if it supports local schools. There's no telling how much money I've spent over the years on cookie dough and popcorn to help schools. Just imagine how much I could really spend to help our schools if I could gamble in the process.

Me: "But Cupcake ... I have to put $100 on the Titans to cover the spread. It will help the poor kids at Hickory Creek Elementary who would otherwise go hungry."

Cupcake: "Since you're betting our grocery money on a worthy cause, it's OK. Go ahead."

Famous actress Jennifer Aniston once said, "It's not really gambling when you never lose."

Unfortunately, when it comes to real-life gambling, there are often big losers who risk far more than they can afford. I say our push to legalize just about anything in the name of tax dollars, like liquor sales on Sunday, is becoming our biggest gamble.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.