As much as my friends, family and I prayed, we did not purchase our recent Mega Millions tickets in Maine. By now everyone probably knows that the winning ticket of over $1.3 billion was purchased at a small little store in a probably small little town in Maine.
If you are like me, you experienced a moment of disappointment when discovering the winner was someone else, but could it be that I am the only one who was secretly happy that it wasn’t me? While the dream of winning a lottery jackpot big enough to change our lives is shared by millions, for some of us, that dream could easily become a nightmare. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Even though Minnesota recently changed the law so that lottery winners may remain anonymous, winning life changing amounts of cash would be difficult to keep a secret. What’s the first thing most people do after getting their winnings? Quit their job, buy a new vehicle, shower cash on people they love? Yup, yup and yup from me. I’m close enough to retirement that quitting my job might not be a red flag…maybe just a pink one. My car is beginning to rust out which throughout my life has been the trigger for buying a new one so another pink flag. Showering cash….whatever way I look at it, that would be a red flag. Not because I’m not generous, but more so because a “shower” as opposed to a “trickle” would more likely cause family members to think I am dying and giving away everything I own!
But the biggest reason why it would never be kept secret has to do with human nature. That’s big news. Massive in fact and someone in my family, whether it be immediate or extended, would be sure to blab and suddenly the nice life changing experience would turn into a nightmare.
Money changes people and not always in a good way. Scammers would be locked on a lottery winner like white on rice. People would knock on the door or blow up the winner’s phone with requests for money. Even the most generous of winners would struggle to sort out the people who really need and deserve help with grifters who just want a handout. Friends may suddenly consider themselves deserving of a share of the money and when not given, those friends may turn into jealous spiteful people. Relatives you never heard of may come out of the woodwork and suddenly even a simple trip to the grocery store would make the winner fair game for someone with a hand out. But, here’s a statistic that is frightening…many lottery winners end up bankrupt within a few years.
My Dad, wise man that he was, always prayed equally hard for us to NOT win on our tickets for he knew that as careful as we might be, winning the lottery was dangerous especially for people who had no experiencing managing large amounts of money. Some of you may remember a man named Jack Whittaker. Back in 2002 he won about $315 million in the Powerball lottery; certainly cause for excitement and happiness, but he ended up being robbed several times and his family experienced multiple tragedies many of which seemed related directly to his sudden wealth.
Winning the lottery, especially the astronomically high jackpots we have seen recently, is not for the faint of heart. I hope that the billion dollar winners in 2022 and 2023 were won by large groups of people and not just a single person. I hope that all of those winners take their time to collect their winnings and get their house, and personal safety, in order. And I hope that they will be kind and generous with their fortune.
Money changes everything and when you go from having little to having more than you will ever need, life changes in ways you may never expect or wish for.
The dream of winning will always be there, but when the money is astronomical, I hope to be sharing that winning ticket.
Be well my friends…