Why Winning the Lottery is the Worst Thing That Can Happen

Winning the lottery seems to be the ultimate dream for a lot of people – Getting ridiculously rich overnight for the price of a hot dog, being able to quit work and basically having the freedom to do whatever you want. It seems like a dream on paper but reality has proven that the outcome of winning the lottery jackpot is closer to a nightmare than a dream. So here’s why winning the lottery might just be the worst thing that can happen.

So here’s what’s been reported about people who’s gone public about winning huge sums of money overnight. There’s an endless list of winners having their lives turn to absolute shambles being attacked or murdered as a result of their new wealth.

A man from Pennsylvania named William Post won north of $16 million dollars, and was shortly after the target of a hit man hired by his own brother in hopes to inherit the winnings himself. However, the attempt failed, but a former girlfriend of his successfully sued him for a third of the winnings. And Mr Post ended up $1 million dollars in debt within a year of hitting the jackpot and lived the rest of his life on foodstamps until he passed away.

william post

Another winner named Andrew Jackson won the jackpot of $114 million dollars. There’s no way you can even spend that amount of money in a lifetime, right? Well turns out he managed to get himself a few enemies that would rob him a couple of times. He also became a huge gambling addict and ended up being sued by Ceasar’s Atlantic City after his checks bounced, and he reportedly ran through all his winnings is just four years.

When people know that you all of a sudden have a lot of money it seems that they look to do one of two things – Either buddy up and become your absolute best friend in the world or make it their life mission to become your worst enemy and completely destroy your life. You’ll become a target for many people who will want to a chunk of that money, be it in a friendly way or not, which will inevitably put you in danger.

Another example is Jack Withttaker who won the jackpot of $315 million dollars in 2002, and he became the target of what seems to be neverending lawsuits against him and his businesses. One of his many attorneys Rob Dunlap said that he’s spent at least $3 million dollars fighting lawsuits with over 400 legal claims made against him or his businesses since the day he won the lottery. However Jack Withttaker belongs to a minority of lottery winners as he hasn’t gone broke as of yet. This may be because he already had a net worth of around $17 million dollars before the win, and he was familiar with handling huge amounts of money. 

jack whittaker.jpg

However it wasn’t until after winning the lottery his life took a nasty turn. Everybody that came in contact with him would ask him for money, cars, houses, and even carpets. And Jack granted most of those wishes early on which would eventually stack up to cost him around $50 million. He also gave his grand daughter around $2,000 dollars a week, which ended up in drug dealers queuing up on her and she couldn’t really turn down the temptation. She was found dead only two years later, and Jack blames himself for her death. He is now left friendless and lonely stating he wished he had just torn the ticked up.

So the majority of people who wins big on the lottery will end up broke and worse of than before within just a few years. And I can emphasize the word MAJORITY here because it’s not 50 or 60 percent, but a whopping 70 percent of people that wins big on the lottery ends up losing it all pretty quickly having their lives turn out worse than before the win.

Going bankrupt after winning more money than most people have in their lifetime seems like a pretty unreasonable statement, even if they stay clear of being taken advantage of, robbed or sued. Financial experts states that people who all of sudden are given huge amounts of money on their hands go absolutely bonkers with it and impulsively spends money like there’s no tomorrow, while seemingly forgetting the fact that there is a tomorrow. And granted, this rings true not only from lottery winners, but irresponsible athletes when their career comes to an end and people who inherit big lumps of money as well.

People seem to think that winning the lottery will give them ultimate happiness, which can be true but only for a short period of time. One study from 1978 researched the level of long-term happiness of lottery winners compared to that of being paralyzed in an accident.

And what’s interesting is that lottery winners had a more difficult time finding pleasure in everyday life and ordinary events compared to the control group. It seems that what made people happy before winning the lottery doesn’t make them as happy anymore, and the bar of finding pleasure is now raised to a much higher, almost unreachable level. That extreme sense of pleasure from winning the lottery seems to do more harm than good in the long term, and it’s now increasingly harder to enjoy life like they once did.

Happiness seems to be based on previous experiences and psychologists call this the hedonic adaptation. It’s simply based on perspective and our happiness will return to a set point after we experience high or low levels of joy. We can compare it to a thermostat that goes up and down based on level of happiness. So if you want to truly find more happiness in your everyday life, try to avoid spending money on short-term gratification over and over, raising your set point of happiness, and do the exact opposite of that.

Make your life more uncomfortable and unpleasant for a short period of time. Instead of getting that new thicker softer mattress for your bed, try sleeping on the floor for a few days. Instead of buying a brand new coffee machine with extensive options, try drinking cold coffee or water for a week. Don’t take your car everywhere you need to go but take a walk or ride a bicycle for a few days. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations and pull through it, and you’ll start to appreciate the small ordinary things that you’ve already got a whole lot more. 

It’s been stated that happiness is just another word for progress. True happiness comes from daily progress and sacrificing today for a better tomorrow. By continuously putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, working hard and sacrificing today, you’ll grow a little bit each day which will inevitably result in a happier life.

Ask yourself what you take more pride in: Becoming rich overnight through sheer luck by winning the lottery, or becoming rich through years of hard work and sacrifice that eventually would result in large sums of money rolling in every month, increasing in value as you progress? Statistically speaking, you have a higher chance of getting struck by lightning than winning the lottery, while becoming rich through working hard is pretty common and the people who do so are by large more happy than lottery winners, especially in the long run.

/Adam

Sources and references:

https://time.com/4176128/powerball-jackpot-lottery-winners/ 

https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/5-reasons-you-dont-want-win-lottery-money-1264.php

https://www.businessinsider.com/winning-lottery-downsides-2018-12?r=US&IR=T 

https://abcnews.go.com/2020/powerball-winner-cursed/story?id=3012631  

https://medium.com/the-post-grad-survival-guide/winning-the-lottery-will-not-make-you-rich-or-happy-6d52f2f99348 

http://pages.ucsd.edu/~nchristenfeld/Happiness_Readings_files/Class%203%20-%20Brickman%201978.pdf

https://www.businessinsider.com/lottery-winners-lost-everything-2017-8?r=US&IR=T#ibi-roncaioli-was-murdered-by-her-husband-after-she-squandered-her-winnings-10


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