The Trouble With Winning the Lottery

For one person in South Carolina this week, luck will take on a new meaning.

In some ways, whoever won Tuesday night’s $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot is quite lucky. He or she beat amazing odds to be the sole winner of a record-shattering prize.

On the other hand, we wish the poor bugger’s dance with Lady Luck continues without him stepping on her toes.

If he’s going to survive becoming an overnight billionaire, he’s going to need the two-faced damsel on his side.

The truth is… winning the lottery is far from a blessing. Big payouts have led to suicide, divorce, failed friendships and, of course, bankruptcy – lots of bankruptcies.

Not-So-Lucky Winners

We’ve heard some crazy stories.

Like the story of Evelyn Adams… who won a healthy $5.4 million through the lottery two years in a row. Pressing her luck, though, she took her easy money to Atlantic City.

The gambling town kept it.

She’s now broke and living in a trailer park. Lady Luck moved on to another victim.

Denise Rossi won $1.3 million in 1996 and decided that, instead of telling her husband, she’d quickly divorce him and keep the cash all for herself.

When he found out what happened, he sued… and won every penny of his ex-wife’s winnings.

Lady Luck took another (deserving) victim.

But what’s worse are the stories of the parasites eager to suck the dollar-scented blood out of the newly rich.

Take $30 million winner Abraham Shakespeare, for example. After he won big in 1996, friends and family hounded him for a piece of the prize.

That’s when he met Dee Dee Moore, who quickly gained his trust. She convinced Shakespeare to transfer all the winnings to her bank account… and then she killed him.

Or take Urooj Khan. He won a cool million bucks… shortly before dying of cyanide poisoning. His sister-in-law and her father, while never charged, are leading suspects.

Clearly, instant riches aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

“They will be inundated with every possible invasion of privacy you can imagine,” said one of our legal sources about the plague that awaits lottery winners.

That’s why we applaud the lucky fool who won a $560 million Powerball prize earlier this year… and refused to accept the prize.

Challenging the State

In New Hampshire, a lottery winner’s name, hometown and prize amount have historically been considered public information.

But the winner (all we know is that she’s a woman) didn’t think such disclosure bodes well for her future… so she refused the money and sued.

She wouldn’t take the cash until the state agreed that she could remain anonymous.

According to the winner’s attorney, Steven Gordon, she is “a longtime resident of New Hampshire” and “an engaged community member” who “wishes to be a silent witness to these good works, far from the glare and misfortune that has often fallen upon other lottery ‘winners.’”

The case wound its way through New Hampshire’s courts.

After lots of back and forth – apparently the state is quite keen on risking the lives and well-being of the newly rich – an appeals judge finally weighed in on the side of the lotto winner.

The “public’s right” to know doesn’t eclipse the winner’s fear of “unreasonable intrusion” into her affairs.

Jane Doe – now a mega-millionaire – wins.

“The Court has no doubts whatsoever that, should Ms. Doe’s identity be revealed, she will be subject to an alarming amount of harassment, solicitation and unwanted communications,” the judge’s 16-page ruling said.

And while we certainly don’t condone playing the lottery, we applaud Jane Doe for having the foresight to see what sort of evil comes along with winning a big prize.

This person understands the only thing in the way of enjoying the money is a weak law that benefits nobody but the state.

We cheer as she overcame the temptation to cash in on the riches and deal with the problems when they arise. And we tip our hat as she boldly stood up to the government’s fierce rebuttals.

Few others would dig in as honorably as she has.

We pray this week’s billion-dollar winner is so smart as to know that their Liberty is worth more than their money.

It all points us to some unavoidable truths.

Money Troubles

We talk about money a lot in these pages. Building wealth is at the core of our mission. It’s what leads us to true independence… aka Liberty.

But like so much in life… if we have much of one thing, we must have much of another.

In this case, we’ll be blunt. It’s brains that so many folks are missing. They get rich quick, but they don’t have the experience or financial intellect to know how to handle it.

It ruins lives – if it doesn’t flat-out take them.

But in the case of the anonymous mega-millionaire from New Hampshire, we suspect there may be some financial experience – some wisdom that can be earned only with time – behind that winning ticket.

And because of it, it’s clear that it’s not the lottery that will ultimately make the winner rich. No, we’ve all seen those winnings come and go many, many times.

Instead, it’s the lucky ticket holder’s deep respect for the effects of wealth that will truly lead her to a rich life.

Money, after all, is no good if it ruins you.

A person who understands that idea is truly the lucky person.


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