Chris Wille: Living Large Off Lottery Winnings

Who wouldn’t want to fall in a money pit and live the high life in a palace?

Inheritance aside, the American Dream entails hard work followed by great success. The Lottery Dream requires walking into a store and purchasing a pink piece of paper with a batch of numbers. Americans recognize that the second one’s easier.

Ask Shane Missler, a 20-year-old who bought the Jan. 12 winning Mega Millions ticket from a 7-Eleven in Port Richey. He’s $451 million richer. But not really.

It’s tough, but Missler will get a giant check for only $281,874,999.00 after opting for the lump-sum payment. Even tougher, he’ll lose more money to Uncle Sam on a whopping income tax bill.

The kid can’t even hoist a champagne toast to his luck. But he can now buy anything his heart desires.

For many — especially princesses pining for Cinderella’s glass slippers — a big part of the Lottery Dream centers around a life of luxury in a palace. Maybe an estate. Or just a mansion.

The options in our piece of paradise are quite seductive. The real estate market here is awash in multimillion-dollar properties — literally, hundreds of luxury homes. Some ridiculously expensive, thus likely satisfying a new megamillionaire.

Take this one on Longboat Key, the most expensive “house” in Sarasota-Manatee. Missler and guests can rattle around in 19,300 square feet of space and never cross paths for days. They’d all be hanging out in either the ginormous living room (envision almost 1,300 square feet in one room); the media room; the family room; the library/den, or one of the other two dens.

And no worries about shopping at Rooms To Go. This Gulf-front palace comes furnished as an option.

Imagine life in “the majesty of Renaissance Venice,” the marketing literature states for a palace called Serenissima. Old European indeed. The list price is chump change for a big-time lottery winner, only $26.5 million. The annual tax total could be deadly over the long term, at $162,967. (845 Longboat Club Road)

Just a couple doors down in this gated enclave there’s a veritable steal at $18 million. But it’s rather smallish, comparatively speaking, at 12,095 square feet, but this is still living large. The bedroom/bathroom count is identical: six and six full, two half.

Marble floors and fireplace, a grand staircase (Cinderella style) and elegant flourishes everywhere compare nicely with its neighbor.

The estimated mortgage is just shy of $71,000, should a cash deal not be in the cards. (825 Longboat Club Road)

Down on Siesta Key in the prestigious Sanderling Club, the Aquadisia estate features two homes on two lots on almost four acres of land with private Gulf frontage — yours for only $15.5 million. Who could resist a “serene tropical sanctuary”?

The total square footage of the homes is almost 8,500. Lottery winners often gather a crew of freeloaders, especially young winners, so a separate house would be nice. In this situation, it would be wrong to call it a “guest” house. (7712 and 766 Sanderling Road)

Tired of making the bed and putting out fresh towels? Want a high-end restaurant meal delivered fresh to your door? Have someone else score those front-row concert tickets? Talk about lazy luxury. This place specializes in room service, housekeeping and concierge assistance.

The name says it all: The Ritz-Carlton Residences, next to the five-star hotel of the same name on downtown Sarasota’s waterfront.

These “dramatically expanded residences,” as the sales pitch states, apparently put the old ones to shame. Maybe it’s the “soaring” 11-foot ceilings. Or the 9-feet high European cabinetry. It’s certainly not the living space. This particular model, the Bristol, contains some 3,000 square feet. In the Serenissima, that’s two and a half living rooms.

Big lottery winners could pull the $2,450,000 asking price out of their wallets. But they’ll have to wait for construction. The developer is taking reservations. (100 Ritz-Carlton Circle #502)

As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, lest it come true. Almost 70 percent of lottery winners end up broke within seven years. Some fall into the pit of misery.

The Lottery Dream may be best as just that, pretending to live large in a ridiculously expensive place while working hard to earn your way in the real world.

Chris Wille is the Herald-Tribune’s real estate editor. He can be reached at chris.wille@heraldtribune.com and 361-4805.

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