If that mega jackpot had you dreaming big, here’s how you join the club of richest Nebraskans

October 24, 2018 GMT

Chances are you didn’t win Tuesday night’s Mega Million’s jackpot. (If you did, let’s talk.)

But if someone from the Cornhusker State did land the perfect number combo, that person would instantly become one of the wealthiest handful of people in Nebraska.

Tuesday’s largest ever jackpot was set at $1.6 billion — with a $904.9 million cash payout. (Ouch, taxes.)

So the winner is almost an instant billionaire, and some basic investing could get that over the mark.

For 2018, Forbes ranks four Nebraskans on its The World’s Billionaires List.

» Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway fame. The Oracle of Omaha, according to Forbes, has an estimated net worth of $84 billion. He’s the third-richest person in the world. He’s from Omaha, you might have heard.

» Walter Scott Jr., also from Omaha, who built his construction career at Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc. but also has invested in telecommunications and energy. His net worth is estimated at $4.2 billion. He ranks No. 514.

» Waaay down the list at No. 1,070 is J. Joe Ricketts, founder of the brokerage firm Ameritrade, now known as TD Ameritrade. He’s worth an estimated $2.3 billion.

» Then making the cut at No. 2,124 is Henry Davis, owner of Greater Omaha Packing, the country’s fifth-largest beef producer, according to Forbes. Davis has an estimated net worth for the 2018 list of $1 billion.

This year, a purely hypothetical $1 billion net worth would also rank you 2,124th with Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx wearables, and Evan Sharp, co-founder of Pinterest.

With a $904.9 million start, you could make the Forbes list in the near future. Don’t spend too much of your loot. Invest it in the stock market for a standard rate of return. Pay your taxes. Within a couple years — or maybe even “a couple good days in the market” — you’re there, said George Morgan, a finance instructor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

There you are, Billionaire Jane or Billionaire Joe, from your humble Nebraska roots to Forbes’ billionaires list.

Crazy, right? Well at least the Mega Millions drawing gave people a chance to dream.

There’s no definitive list of Nebraska’s wealthiest people down the line. In all, Nebraska has about 41,000 households — roughly 5 percent of all the state’s households — with $1 million or more in assets, according to the firm Phoenix Marketing International, which studies wealth and affluence.

Over the years, The World-Herald has documented the financial benefits for a select few locals who had the geographic fate, connections and financial wherewithal to invest early with Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway.

Among those were the late Dick and Mary Holland, whose charity to the community is evident, as one example, in downtown Omaha’s Holland Performing Arts Center.

If winning the big lottery haul were your fate, philanthropy surely becomes a major consideration for you.

With that much money, Morgan said, there are finite limits to what you can spend and do for yourself.

“You can’t spend a billion dollars. Look at how Buffett lives.”

Buffett still lives in the Dundee home he bought in 1958 and regularly eats at McDonald’s. He’s donating billions of dollars to charity.

If you’re older, you’re not going to do much more than give money away, Morgan said. How many planes can you buy? How many cars can you buy?

“I’ve got a friend that has a Porsche that can do 180 miles per hour,” Morgan said.

“So. He’s not going to do that down Dodge Street.”