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Winning a lottery jackpot can't guarantee happiness

After the Big WinAfter the Big Win: Winning a lottery jackpot can't guarantee happiness

Sudden wealth is good for most lottery winners, but not all

For some people, winning the big jackpot can turn out to be a big mistake.

William "Bud" Post III called it the "lottery of death."

The Pennsylvania man, who died in January at 66, hit a $16.2 million lottery jackpot in 1988. After that, his sixth wife left him, a woman sued for a third of the winnings, he failed at business ventures with siblings, and spent time in jail for firing a gun over a bill collector's head.

His brother was arrested for hiring a hit man to kill him in the hope of getting a share of the winnings. Eventually Mr. Post declared bankruptcy.

Stories like this are the exception, but the truth remains that good fortune doesn't automatically come with a pile of money.

"Life is good, but it's not a constant party," said Susan Bradley, a certified financial planner who founded the Sudden Money Institute in Florida, which provides resources and training for new wealth recipients and their advisers.

"It's hard," she said. "You can change your phone number. You can move out of state. You can do all those kinds of things. But maybe you don't want to.

"Lottery winners are targets," she continued. "They also don't get the same kind of respect that someone who 'earned' the money gets. There's kind of this funny taint."

The Ohio Lottery does little specific counseling for winners, aside from stressing the importance of finding a good attorney and financial planner because it can't be seen as endorsing anyone in particular, said spokesman Mardele Cohen.

And while the lottery would prefer that winners go public — it's good publicity — more are choosing to avoid some of the drawbacks of instant wealth by remaining anonymous.

"Most of the folks anymore that win large prizes — $1 million or more — are claiming in blind trusts so they don't have people they knew 30 years ago showing up," Ms. Cohen said.

Basically, that involves putting a third party — an attorney or other appointee — between the winner and the money with fiduciary responsibilities.

"You're anonymous, and that part's very, very good," Ms. Bradley said.

Not everyone takes that path, though.

West Virginian Jack Whittaker didn't hide from the world when he won a whopping $314.9 million Powerball jackpot in 2002. He celebrated his good fortune and shared it with his home state, giving away tens of millions to philanthropy.

But he also suffered after his big win. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were stolen from his cars, home, and office, he lost his granddaughter to a drug overdose, and he pleaded no contest to attacking a bar manager. He was arrested twice for drunken driving and ordered into rehab.

The simplest lesson — explored in a famous 1978 study — is that more money doesn't always lead to more happiness.

Northwestern University researchers compared the happiness of lottery winners with paraplegics and quadriplegics. At first, lottery winners reported feelings of extreme happiness and the accident victims despair. But within a few months, each group had returned to about the same level of happiness they had before the life-changing event.

Still, the vast majority of lottery winners wouldn't want to give the money back.

"A lot of the publicity is really negative about people — that they've got hit men ... they waste all the money. I'm sure that does happen. I just know there are a lot of people who really do adjust successfully," said Eileen Gallo, a California psychotherapist who wrote her doctoral dissertation about sudden wealth.

H. Roy Kaplan, who teaches at the University of South Florida and has interviewed hundreds of lottery winners over the years, agreed: "For most people, it's a positive influence."

"I found some people, their lives were saved by winning. They were in dirty, deleterious jobs and it gave them a chance to retire," continued Mr. Kaplan, who wrote the 1978 book Lottery Winners: How they won and how winning changed their lives.

Many young people become entrepreneurs and their own bosses, he said.

In most cases, the first thing a winner does is buy a house, car, or go on vacation, said David Gale, executive director of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

"If they choose the money in installment options, pretty much that first one they go out and have a good time," he said. "After that, they recognize for the most part that financial security is really what they've won."

Mr. Kaplan's advice — aside from, "Give me the money. I'd have a great time with it" — is to take things slow.

"Don't do anything right away," he said. "Don't quit [your job]. Take a leave of absence, get a financial planner. Don't do anything precipitously. Take a couple weeks off and think about it. You never have to worry again if you do it the right way."

As modern jackpots grow, the problems will remain the same, he predicted.

"The same kinds of issues will always be out there: letters begging for money, phone calls, notoriety. Just the sums change."

Toledo Blade

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20 comments. Last comment 8 years ago by SassyOhio.
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LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
Tennessee
United States
Member #7853
October 15, 2004
11334 Posts
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Posted: April 9, 2006, 9:57 am - IP Logged

money isn't everything.if you go wild with it you will crash and burn.....

    Avatar
    New Jersey
    United States
    Member #21206
    September 4, 2005
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    Posted: April 9, 2006, 12:28 pm - IP Logged

    People tend to focus on Bud Post and Jack Whittaker, but undoubtedly there were many people who did the whole thing right.

    Financial security cannot make you happy, but it can keep you happy.

     In order to maintain financial security there is one word that is important above all, "No."

    One should not say "no" only to others either.  One should say it frequently to oneself. 

     

     

     

      s5thomps's avatar - Lottery-033.jpg
      Hard Luck, Ak
      United States
      Member #23472
      October 13, 2005
      252 Posts
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      Posted: April 9, 2006, 1:30 pm - IP Logged

      Good advice!, If I am ever fortunate enough to win I will certainly heed that advice.  A windfall can be a blessing if it is handle the right way. One thing is for certain is that we all will die some day, but if you handle a lottery jackpot correctly it can not only last a lifetime, but for generations to come.  Like P-Diddy said "More money More problems!"


        United States
        Member #379
        June 5, 2002
        11296 Posts
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        Posted: April 9, 2006, 1:32 pm - IP Logged

        People tend to focus on Bud Post and Jack Whittaker, but undoubtedly there were many people who did the whole thing right.

        Financial security cannot make you happy, but it can keep you happy.

         In order to maintain financial security there is one word that is important above all, "No."

        One should not say "no" only to others either.  One should say it frequently to oneself. 

         

         

         

        Mr Post had the misfortune of winning an annuity-only jackpot.

          Uff Da!'s avatar - InCelebration 001.jpg
          Washington State
          United States
          Member #33973
          February 26, 2006
          345 Posts
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          Posted: April 9, 2006, 1:40 pm - IP Logged

          Cash Only said:

          Mr Post had the misfortune of winning an annuity-only jackpot.

          For most people who have no clue about how to handle large sums of money and who have a difficult time saying "no" to others, I'd think an annuity would actually be a blessing.  Unless they chose later to convert it to cash at a loss or borrowed against it heavily, they would be likely to squander one year's income at a time instead of the whole wad.

            justxploring's avatar - villiarna
            Wandering Aimlessly
            United States
            Member #25360
            November 5, 2005
            4457 Posts
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            Posted: April 9, 2006, 2:03 pm - IP Logged

            "I found some people, their lives were saved by winning. They were in dirty, deleterious jobs and it gave them a chance to retire," continued Mr. Kaplan, who wrote the 1978 book Lottery Winners: How they won and how winning changed their lives."

            We've had articles like this posted many times on this board, and each time I chuckle and shake my head. I chuckle because I'd like the opportunity to prove them wrong and I shake my head because so many people who had this blessing were either greedy or irresponsible. The reason I chose the above paragraph to quote is that I believe it represents the lottery more than the negative stories. There will always be people who go nuts and blow their fortunes, but I think they're the exception, not the rule. After all, every week somebody wins one of the many state lotteries, so there are thousands of lottery winners who live happy lives we never read about.

            "Most of the folks anymore that win large prizes — $1 million or more — are claiming in blind trusts so they don't have people they knew 30 years ago showing up," Ms. Cohen said.

            That's a great idea, but not available in all states. It should be. One reason I'd move first is because I would not feel secure by myself at night once my name was in the paper. It's a hit or miss. Sometimes there's nothing too exciting to report on tv and announcing that someone in one of the viewing counties won is headline news. Plus, because everything is now so global with the increased use of the internet, word travels even further. But if you really think about it, how many PB, MM or even state lottery winners can any of you name? Not many! So I believe all the hullabaloo is short-lived, and most people's fame fades away with time. I doubt if a person could hide a dramatic change in lifestyle from friends and family for very long.

              justxploring's avatar - villiarna
              Wandering Aimlessly
              United States
              Member #25360
              November 5, 2005
              4457 Posts
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              Posted: April 9, 2006, 2:33 pm - IP Logged

              Cash Only said:

              Mr Post had the misfortune of winning an annuity-only jackpot.

              For most people who have no clue about how to handle large sums of money and who have a difficult time saying "no" to others, I'd think an annuity would actually be a blessing.  Unless they chose later to convert it to cash at a loss or borrowed against it heavily, they would be likely to squander one year's income at a time instead of the whole wad.

              We were posting at the same time, so I didn't see your comment. I've written a similar response. You'll never change Cash Only's mind, since this is his mission! I worked most of my life for a company and was always super responsible with an 800 credit score, etc. and then my life went down the toilet very quickly. So I know what can happen to "good investments" if you don't get sound advice and how illness or depression can drain your savings. Some people need the discipline and security of an annual payment, knowing that no matter what goes wrong after the first check, there will be 29 more. I would never take the graduated annuity for PB however and I'd probably take a lump sum if I won in FL too, because the payout is usually around 60% or better. I'm a lot wiser now, so I'm pretty certain I'd take the lump sum, but even if I didn't have a choice, I'd rather get $100K a year than nothing at all! The straightdope is a question and answer site I've enjoyed for many years. I discovered them one time when I noticed that the buttons on the drive-thru ATMs are in braille and wondered if Google would come up with anything! They have an article on this subject too which might give you food for thought.

              http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mlottery.html

                pigsNtrees's avatar - pigsNtrees
                Mallorn trees of Lothlorien
                United States
                Member #26084
                November 14, 2005
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                Posted: April 9, 2006, 2:40 pm - IP Logged

                Good grief! Like the old saying goes "A fool and his money are soon parted."

                Quando Porca Volare!

                drunk hobbit

                  Avatar
                  Indiana
                  United States
                  Member #29196
                  December 29, 2005
                  280 Posts
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                  Posted: April 9, 2006, 3:27 pm - IP Logged

                  Boy I couldn't disagree more.  IMHO once you are tagged with the epithet Lottery Winner you will live with it and all the nonsense that goes along with it for the rest of your life.

                  While it might be true that the gerneral public will forget...your family won't forget...your neighbors won't forget...your friends won't forget...your co-workers won't forget...the press won't forget (especially if some misfortune befalls you) and on and on it goes.

                  And if you live in a state that has no shame when it comes to exploiting lottery winners (like Indiana) the public won't even forget.  The Hoosier Lottery regularly points out that the last Powerball winner from Indiana was Barbara Lennen of Elwood, Indiana.

                  Jim 

                   

                   


                  Money frees you from doing things you dislike.  Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.  - Groucho Marx

                    justxploring's avatar - villiarna
                    Wandering Aimlessly
                    United States
                    Member #25360
                    November 5, 2005
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                    Posted: April 9, 2006, 4:33 pm - IP Logged

                    Hi, Jim. I don't know if you are responding to my post, but I always think of the FL Lottery, not PB or MM. The news would be more local in that case. Plus, the above article isn't just talking about the $300M winners. I read the paper and watch the new everyday and have no idea who won $5M 2 years ago. I would agree 100% with what you wrote if that person decides to live and work in the same area. Some people would never be able to just pack up and split, because of ties to the community. It would also be hard on a child to yank him out of school and away from his friends, although families relocate all the time. Maybe it's because I'm single, but many years ago I drove from NH to the Florida Keys and didn't know a soul. Half the people were either tourists or snowbirds. I could have told my new neighbors anything I wanted, although I had nothing to hide. My residences on Captiva and Sanibel were even more private. So, although you definitely have a valid point, I think it depends on how flexible a person is and how badly he wants privacy. I know a few people who moved to places like Costa Rica, Panama and Belize to retire. As long as you follow the laws for American citizens and pay your taxes, you can live anywhere you want.

                      Avatar
                      md
                      United States
                      Member #14047
                      April 20, 2005
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                      Posted: April 9, 2006, 9:37 pm - IP Logged

                      I suggest that all LP members buy a copy of the book,  "Wealth: Grow It, Protect It, Spend It and Share It" by Stuart E. Lucas. Words are inadequate to describe the principles and education (beyond information) contained therein.  All jackpot winners will love it!

                        Avatar
                        NY
                        United States
                        Member #23835
                        October 16, 2005
                        2829 Posts
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                        Posted: April 10, 2006, 1:28 am - IP Logged

                        Boy I couldn't disagree more.  IMHO once you are tagged with the epithet Lottery Winner you will live with it and all the nonsense that goes along with it for the rest of your life.

                        While it might be true that the gerneral public will forget...your family won't forget...your neighbors won't forget...your friends won't forget...your co-workers won't forget...the press won't forget (especially if some misfortune befalls you) and on and on it goes.

                        And if you live in a state that has no shame when it comes to exploiting lottery winners (like Indiana) the public won't even forget.  The Hoosier Lottery regularly points out that the last Powerball winner from Indiana was Barbara Lennen of Elwood, Indiana.

                        Jim 

                         

                         

                        You've hit the nail on the head. With just a few exceptions, most of us will forget the winners' names 10 minute after reading an article about it, but a few people will either remember their names or look for their names after the fact. We'd all love a piece of their pie, but most of us aren't going to ask for anything, so we aren't interested in their names and forget about them unless they do something to attract attention.

                        The people who remember their names are a different story. I don't think most people who pester winners for a handout pester them because they remember their names, rather they remember their names because they're the type of people who will pester others to try and get a free handout. They're just natural parasites and when they spot a potential host they try to use it to their advantage.

                        The good news is that it's relatively easy to drop off the radar so that the strangers can't easily find you, but assuming you want to maintain contact with friends and family they'll be a separate problem. Unfortunately it's human nature to want what we don't have, and as the article notes, normal people feel entitled to what we get without working for even though they'd otherwise happily split the dinner check when your share was more than half. Claiming a win as a trust will make it easy to escape the strangers right from the start, but it will be pretty hard to enjoy the money without making it obvious to friends and family that your financial situation has improved substantially.


                          SassyOhio's avatar - Picture012
                          Columbus Ohio
                          United States
                          Member #35946
                          March 25, 2006
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                          Posted: April 10, 2006, 10:33 am - IP Logged

                          I know that even though I love my family to death, I would HAVE to disapear and only contact them for at least a few years. Maybe not all of them but a brother and sister and a LOT Of in Laws LOl, my husband and I already decided that if we ever hit we will not announce who we are and with our family well lets just say that I DONT HAVE A PROBLEM with showing some love NOR the word NO.  I would want to drop off the radar I think that is the one thing that I would benefit the most from. I have met alot of FAKE people in my life and well the ones that I know are real and love me for me already live with me and have earned that title of MY IMMEDIATE Family I would want to share  the daily wealth with them cause I love them  But I agree for at least my life I would have to relocate my whole life, but again everything and anyone that we need is inside our 4 walls so we would not mind Wink

                          Hopin To Be The Lucky Ones!!

                          COME ON MEGA! MEGA-ME-RICH!

                           

                          Please feel free to visit my sisters memorial page that I have now completed

                          www.freewebs.com/wendyinmyheartforever

                            TheGameGrl's avatar - necros
                            Pennsylvania
                            United States
                            Member #17084
                            June 10, 2005
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                            Posted: April 10, 2006, 6:20 pm - IP Logged

                            My mission statement this week is to say NO to myself!

                            1: No , I will not have a loosing ticket

                            2: No I will do better at claiming my prize early and under good advice

                            3 Under NO circusmstances will I allow my negativity to deter my goal to gain financial security.

                            4: No I will not give to two charitites if I win. I'll give to three :) And those charities already know who they are!

                            5: No I will not tempt fate by letting a person get in front of me in the lottery line! It could mean the difference in a winning ticket!

                            ________________________________

                            Signature quote-If I'd agree with you , we'd both be wrong.