Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Irony and Bad Luck = Comedy Gold

Again, from, a fantastic story. I really have to wonder about the universe's sense of humor. What are the chances?

(February 13, 2007) — NAPLES — Wayne Schenk was diagnosed in December with inoperable lung cancer. Doctors at a Veterans Affairs hospital told the former Marine he might live for another year or, if he's lucky, 18 months.

Five weeks later, Schenk bought a $5 scratch-off High Stakes Blackjack ticket at a drugstore near his home in Ontario County and hit the jackpot. But there was a catch: The $1 million prize pays out in $50,000 annual installments over 20 years.

"If it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all," said Schenk, 51.

Schenk, a lifelong smoker, bought the Orange Inn tavern on Main Street a year ago after decades of working odd jobs.

He has no need for a new house or a fancy car. What he's hoping to buy is a little time — at a Pennsylvania hospital that specializes in advanced-stage cancers.

"I understand money can't buy everything, but money can prolong things, you know?" he said.

Schenk recently cashed his first lottery check — $34,000 after taxes — and is scrambling to find a lump-sum arrangement. He's been offered a lump sum of more than $400,000, but after taxes he'd only be left with a little more than $200,000.

For the treatment he's exploring, Schenk needs $125,000 up front and $250,000 in reserves.

"We're incredibly sympathetic," said Susan Miller of the New York lottery. "But we're not able, because of our rules and regulations, to just write him a (lump-sum) check."