I haven’t decided if I’m going to buy a lottery ticket for the Mega Millions drawing. Probably depends on whether I’m in a vendor’s business before Friday’s drawing. I will do so from time to time, never more than $3 worth, maybe $5. A friend of mine says, “What does a dream cost?” And as everyone else says, “You gotta play to win.”
Imagine winning that much money. I’d take the lump sum of course, and try to keep my name as quiet as possible. Soon you’d see some changes around here, though. I’d bestow large sums on my friends and family members, of course. Do some fun stuff, like…charter a private jet to some fabulous destination and invite cool people to come aboard. Buy Alan a bigger boat, or maybe a house on a great trout stream. Give lots to charity. (If all these things happen, you’ll know I won.) And I would, of course, set up some sort of trust to keep the pile away from moochers.
Like? Oh, like the Rev. Leroy Jenkins.
You Central Ohioans of a certain age remember Leroy, as shifty and grifty a preacher as ever stood in a pulpit, although for some reason I don’t know that he was much for pulpits – he was the kind of guy who preached in drive-ins. His Wikipedia entry is a font of hilarity:
Jenkins was known for his faith healing, through the use of “miracle water”. In 2003, while based in Delaware, Ohio, Jenkins’ “miracle water,” drawn from a well on the grounds of his 30-acre religious compound known as the Healing Waters Cathedral, was found to contain coliform bacteria by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Jenkins claimed tests conducted by independent laboratories all found the water safe for drinking and that the state ignored his findings. Jenkins was later fined $200 because he didn’t have a license to sell the water.
In 1979, Jenkins was convicted in Greenwood, South Carolina, of conspiracy to assault two men and of plotting the arson of two homes. Jenkins was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with eight years suspended, for the incident. In 1994, he was arrested for grand theft, but the charges were soon dropped when he agreed to pay restitution.
What does he have to do with the lottery? Only this:
In 2001, his marriage to a 77-year-old widow, a black woman who had recently hit the Ohio Lottery jackpot for $6,000,000, was annulled by a judge in Delaware, Ohio. The legal guardian of Eloise Thomas, whose husband had died just three weeks before the marriage to Jenkins, former Ohio state senator Ben Espy, claimed on behalf of the woman’s family that Thomas was incompetent and therefore incapable of knowing what she was doing when she attempted to marry Jenkins. Jenkins has repeatedly denied accusations that he was attempting to marry the woman for the sake of her net worth, which was estimated at $4,000,000.
That was an amazing story. As I recall, the woman was in a wheelchair, and Leroy was a good decade younger, although it was hard to tell, as he was one of those men who kept his hair Elvis-black until the very end. Ben Espy, the woman’s lawyer/guardian, was a former OSU football star and Columbus city councilman who lost a leg sometime in the ’80s, when the cornice of a building downtown abruptly gave way and fell onto the street below, where Espy was unfortunately walking. What a day that was in the ol’ newsroom.
Anyway, that was the kind of stunt that, shall we say, led the good reverend’s obituary when he died in 2017. Columbus Monthly did a pretty good later-in-life profile called “Leroy Jenkins starts over,” with a detail most forgot: The wedding was performed in Las Vegas. Naturally.
I will not be marrying Leroy, or any of his kin, should I claim the prize.
Now to lay low for a few days. Covid is tearing through my community again, and as I am still a Novid, so to speak, I absolutely do not want to get it. Election is next week and I’m hitting the road for a little driving trip afterward. I’ll be packing masks and tests and staying outdoors as much as possible. Have a great weekend, however you are testing at the moment, and I’ll be back toward the end of it.