Friday, May 28, 2004

The Book of Jack

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. - Mark 10:25

I don't know Jack, but I keep tabs on him....Jack Whittaker that is.

You might not remember him, but you probably have heard of Jack Whittaker. Jack is from West Virginia and on Christmas day 2002 he won the largest single lottery jackpot in U.S. history - a Powerball jackpot worth 315 million dollars. He actually took home about a third of that amount, roughly 113 million dollars.

When he won, Jack immediately said 10 percent of the money was going to three preachers. He's lived up to that pledge and more. To his credit, he set up a nonprofit organization to help West Virginians find jobs, buy food and pay education costs. He funded it with 14 million dollars. His money is being used to build at least two churches as well as housing for senior citizens.

That's part of what makes Jack so interesting to me. He has this obvious sense that he needs to give back - to give thanks for his good fortune.

Jack also gives a good chunk of his vast wad of cash to lawyers, thieves, racehorses, and strippers.

He nearly lost about half million dollars when someone stole a briefcase from his car outside the "Pink Pony" strip bar in Cross Lanes, West Virginia. Eventually the briefcase, with the half million dollars in cash still inside, was recovered. A couple of bar employees are accused of drugging his drinks and trying to rip him off when they realized he had all that his car. Lesser temptations have brought down bigger men I suppose.

Jack has actually been robbed at least three times since he got lucky and struck it rich. He's also been busted for drunk driving and he's been arrested for threatening to kill the manager of a bar - not the "Pink Pony".

This month he was sued by a couple of guys who claim they were injured when they were tossed out of yet another bar and landed on their rumps in the parking lot. The suit claims Jack, who I'm guessing was probably the only multi-millionaire in that particular West Virginia bar that night and quite possibly the only multi-millionaire in any West Virginia bar, had ordered them thrown out.

Last January, Jack used his foundation to team up with Wal-Mart, and Feed the Children. They started giving food and clothes to poor kids...$64,000 worth of food and clothing...a month.

In March of last year Jack was sued by a woman who works at a horse racing track. She claims he tried to force her head into what some might consider a sexual position while pinching another woman's rear and snapping a third woman's bra strap.

Ironically, the first name of the woman who filed that suit is Charity.

You have to admit that the story of Jack Whittaker reads like a modern day parable. I must also admit that I see myself in his story more than I would like.

How often have I dreamed of winning the lottery or thought that everything uncomfortable in my life could be eradicated with enough money?

Worse yet, how often have I prayed along those lines?

I don't know Jack.

Thank God I know grace.

You cannot serve both God and money. - Luke 16:13