Not long ago, I sent a question out into the void. The void, of course, was the Internet. And the question was a simple one: What would you do if you won the lottery?

One of the unexpected perks of writing a book on this subject has been getting to hear so many different answers to this question. It turns out pretty much everyone has thought about it at some point or another, so it’s been endlessly fun to hear how people would spend their imaginary jackpots. I’m always blown away by the specificity of the responses. Everyone seems to know exactly what they’d do with that money. Like, down to the dollar.

But that day, as the answers to my question started pouring in on Twitter, I found myself surprised in a different way. To be honest, I was expecting people to want sports cars and fancy houses and luxury vacations and season tickets to baseball games. Instead, one after another, my readers—who are mostly teens—sent in the most lovely, generous, big-hearted ideas for how they’d use the money. They’d take care of their parents, who have done so much for them. They’d give it to charity. They’d start a foundation. They’d save animals and fund schools and help kids in need. They’d do something nice for their friends or families or strangers. They’d build libraries and start bookstores. They’d travel too, buy houses in interesting places, pay off student loans and take care of what needed to be taken care of—but by and large, they wanted to use their winnings as a force for good.

Sometimes, the perception is that money brings out the worst in people. But it can also bring out the very best, and as I sat there reading through all the responses—which were so thoughtful and empathetic and kind—it made me wish that teens hit the jackpot more often, because I genuinely believe the world would be a lot better for it.

Lucky me, to get to write for them.

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