Published: May 25, 2013
DENVER - Strange things happen in Florida.
Election results are iffy. Gators and humans share yards. A Gator quarterback, who struggles to quarterback, won an NFL playoff game as a quarterback.
Maybe it's the heat; maybe it's an overload of strip malls. Maybe Florida needs the therapeutic effect of our mountains.
Here's one for you: Last week a Powerball ticket worth $590.5 million - the richest lottery ticket in history, or roughly four Troy Tulowitzkis - went unclaimed in Zephyrhills, Fla.
Winning Powerball tickets aren't something that slip beneath a couch cushion.
Except in Florida.
The winning numbers: 22 (Nikoloz Tskitishvili), 10 (Dante Bichette), 13 (Valeri Kamensky), 14 (head coaches of the Broncos), 52 (Randy Gradishar, for two years).
And the Powerball: 11 (Birdman).
I found the ticket, in a dream, and have decided to donate the winnings to charity:
After taxes, here's where the money will go:
1. For Peyton Manning: A dome. His playoff record when the temperature dips below 40: 0-4. These Broncos are better on offense (with Wes Welker), defense (with rare continuity at coordinator) and special teams (although Trindon Holliday muffed two punts Monday). One playoff variable is out of their control: Colorado's shifty winter weather. Until now.
2. For the Broncos: A warranty on Montee Ball. None of the team's seven draft picks will be shoved into a more public role than the running back from Wisconsin. His competition looks like this: Knee surgery (Knowshon Moreno), no-show for OTAs and knee surgery (Willis McGahee), third-down option (Ronnie Hillman). One sign Ball grasps his value: The rookie stayed late, with Manning, for extra work after Tuesday's practice at Dove Valley.
3. For the Avalanche: An advance on Seth Jones' second contract. Colorado owns the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft. The choice likely will be Jones, an 18-year-old defenseman. He's also the son of former Nugget Popeye Jones, who once asked Joe Sakic how to start his kid in hockey. "He was a little upset his son wanted to play hockey and not play basketball," Sakic said. If Seth Jones is the prospect he's advertised to be, the Avs will need deep pockets down the road.
4. For Josh Kroenke: An alias. There's a perception Kroenke, the Nuggets president and a former basketball player at Missouri, cares only about the NBA side of the family's operation. Since he's also president of the Avalanche, that's a problem. I asked Kroenke how he can erase those perceptions. "Win," he said. With the Avs, his work is cut out.
5. For the Rapids: Band-Aids. Colorado puts 11 players on the pitch - and has seen 11 players miss at least one game due to injury, according to Chris Bianchi of MLSSoccer.com. Some of the injuries were freaky; Diego Calderon, a key acquisition in the offseason, required surgery after smashing his right knee against a goal post.
6. For the Sky Sox: A view. In a city with captivating views, the Sky Sox play in a ballpark without one. We could throw a percentage of our winnings into a new stadium, but I doubt attendance would increase. Not with Coors Field an hour away.
7. For Warrior Games: Bigger crowds. Mark it on your 2014 calendar; there's not a better event in Colorado sports. Attendance last week was spotty. Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker spoke to veterans at the archery finals: "You ever seen 'Rocky' before? No matter how many times you get knocked down, get up one more time." Why not spend an afternoon cheering retired Army Sgt. Lance Thorton, who competes in compound archery - with an amputated right arm?
8. For Todd Helton: Fountain of youth. The face of the Rockies since Jordan Pacheco was in the sixth grade, Helton has earned a shield from tough words. But his 16th season is Clapton forgetting the notes on a farewell tour. Hard to let go, harder to watch.
9. For the Nuggets: LaMarcus Aldridge. Here is their elusive star: A 27-year-old All-Star forward who isn't starving to play in a major market. Part of Masai Ujiri's brilliance as GM is building a roster thick with tradeable assets. Assemble a juicy package and we'll bring the NBA's best power forward, this side of Tim Duncan, to Denver. Money's not an issue.
10. For Reed Hicks: Clean bill of health. Don't know him? He's an inspiration. Reed is a senior at Arapahoe High in Centennial. He's 18, carries a 3.5 GPA and earned a college baseball scholarship. The best part: His cancer is in remission. Reed endured three cycles of chemotherapy in the fall. "It's a pretty gut-wrenching process," his dad, Steve Hicks, told me. That didn't stop Reed, who returned to the baseball diamond this spring. You can shake his hand June 28, when he throws out the first pitch at a Sky Sox game.
Now that's a winning ticket.