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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Winning ticket may be a curse

    Six numbers gave three Americans enough money on Friday to solve all of their problems and live happily ever after, supposedly. Unfortunately, for many other winners before them, it didn’t turn out that way. The instant change of lifestyle often ends up being too much to handle for lottery winners.

    With a 1:175,711,536 chance of winning the Mega Millions lottery, winners are the luckiest people alive. That is, they were the luckiest, until these blessed few gave away or burned through all of their winnings and created more demons than before.

    Stories of Americans instantly winning millions only to lose it all have become common. In 1989, Michigan lottery winner Willie Hurt won $3.1 million, only to get divorced, lose custody of his children, be charged with attempted murder and have a crack-cocaine addiction by 1991.

    In 1997, Billie Bob Harrell Jr. committed suicide. He had won $31 million in the Texas Lottery, bought cars and real estate, and gave his money to family, church and friends, but it was not clear if there was money left for estate taxes after his death.

    Victoria Zell shared $11 million with her husband in 2001, but was convicted in 2005 for a drug- and alcohol-induced accident that killed one person and paralyzed another.

    These stories are nothing new.

    “It would be great to win but I would have to be careful with who I trust,” said Esther Fitzgerald, a freshman. “Money can change people and people can get greedy. If I won the lottery, I would keep it casual and tell no one.”

    Many former lottery winners lost all their money because they weren’t used to being in control of so much wealth. A New Jersey woman named Evelyn Adams won twice in 1985 and 1986, but gambled or gave away the total $5.4 million. She was living in a trailer by 2001.

    “Money changes everyone,” said Sky Rich, a sophomore. “I would try to not forget how my family raised me and the values that they have shown me. I would make sure to get a solid accountant who could manage my money better than I could.”

    Investing in a trusty accountant is a smart choice for lottery winners, but many American families are not accustomed to using accountants, so when an individual who comes from that background wins millions of dollars it becomes difficult for them to know who to trust.

    Senior Curtis Rogers understands this risk and believes that winners of the lottery who do well with their millions do so because they come from a family who have always been good with money and they have been taught well. “I’d like to think that I would be good with the winnings, but if you’ve got a good support system around you it can only help.”

    The chance to better your life is an opportunity the lottery hands Americans every time the ping-pong balls are drawn. If a winner can balance out the instant lifestyle change then he or she will live better off in the long run.

    However, too many Americans who win the lottery are not able to find equilibrium in their life, and winning millions of dollars ends up becoming more a burden than a blessing. Still, we shall wish the most recent mega million lottery winners the best and hope their newly acquired money doesn’t change them for the worst.

    — Luke Davis is a pre-journalism sophomore. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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