Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What Are the Odds of Being Happy After Winning the Lottery?

I've been doing some end-of-year cleaning and organizing. Last night while moving folders and files I came across an old file titled Lottery "Winners". The folder had a few newspaper clippings in it with titles like, "Lottery winner arrested again" and "Jackpot winner hits a bad stretch."

We hear the stories and maybe even know a few ourselves, about the rancorous quibbling amongst siblings when one wins big. According to this story 65% of all lottery winners are bankrupt in 15 years. Furthermore, their divorce rate is four times the national average. The story also notes that the average lottery gambler spend $700 a year on the game, which isn't too bad if you can afford it. Many cannot.

Here in the U.S. the big kahuna of lotteries is the Powerball. The drawings are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Today's purse is in the neighborhood of $300 million. The odds of winning are pretty slim, as in finding a specific grain of sand on South Beach. Nevertheless there will be plenty of players ponying up, even with the odds of being unhappy afterwards being so high.

Here's another reason it may not be fun to be a lottery winner. The paparazzi. Win a few million bucks and the reporters want your story. According to one Forbes article*, winning the lottery could be a curse, not a blessing. "Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it," is a fairly well-worn adage, but totally apropos.

The story cites Jack Whitaker who says, "I wish I'd torn that ticket up." Willie Seeley was quoted as saying, “There are days I wish we were back to just getting paid every two weeks.”

I had a friend who used to say that lotteries were invented by the rich in order to give poor people a dream of being rich. Why? So the rich won't be hated so much because these dreamers may become one some day.

I dunno. What I do know is that the more you own the more you have to worry about. I also know that there's a really big pot for the winner tonight. Is it O.K. to just go after the $100,000 prize?

*Why Lottery Winners Crash After Winning Big

1 comment:

LEWagner said...

I win one dollar every single time. :)