Monday, October 19, 2009

Another Story of Lottery-Ruined Lives

I've written many times on this blog that I don't play the lottery. I've explained why. I am not aware of a single story of a lottery winner going on to peace and prosperity. Every single time I come across stories of the aftermath of a winning lottery ticket, I read about ruined families, shattered lives, and fractured communities. I'm willing to admit to the "if it bleeds, it leads" principle in the media, and that possibly only the ugliest stories actually make it into news, but I still haven't found a good story about a lottery winner. I'm not convinced that any good can come from winning the lottery. I'd like to be proven wrong, but every time I step in to research the subject, I find more supporting evidence for my original opinion.

Recently, I came across the story of Jack Wittaker, a West Virginia man who rose from poverty to ownership of a construction company. He won $314 million in the Power Ball. "Jack opted to take his prize as a one-time payout of $113,386,407.77, after taxes." Taxes took more than $200 million. Who really won with that ticket?
"He was determined, he said at the time, to live as if nothing had
changed, except that he could spend more time with his family. He was
going to keep answering his own phone, opening his own front door and
turning to God for guidance. "He's still working on me," Jack said,
sounding modest."

After that quote, the story degenerates into visits to racetracks, strip clubs, and all of the ruined lives left in the wake.

Everybody I know who plays the lottery claims that if they win, they'll give tons to charity. They'll give a bunch to a church if they attend one. But few are doing such things now. I think it's silly to promise to do such things AFTER winning the lottery if they're not part of your life BEFORE. We all know you're full of it if you claim you'll suddenly turn into a philanthropist after winning the lottery.

I don't have a single plan for what I would do if I won the lottery because I don't play the lottery. I don't like to listen to people talk about "Oh, if I could only win the lottery, my life would be so much better." I'm sorry, but every single account I have ever read about the aftermath of winning the lottery says otherwise.

I wrote a blog post last year linking to another post about the "Language of the Perpetual Poor." I have since come to the controversial conclusion that I would rather have people cuss around my children than say things like "I wish I could win the lottery" and "I hate my job. I wish I could get fired and go on unemployment."

Most people I know who talk like that have not read a single book about personal finance or personal development. Most are not actively working to improve themselves within their job or trade, or to learn new skills to get a better job or enter a new trade. They just sit around complaining and letting life happen to them.

I'll stop ranting. Please, read the story of Jack Wittaker linked above. Then answer the question: (you're welcome to answer in the comments) "What makes me think that my life, family, community, church, etc... would turn out any different if I won the lottery?"
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