Adrienne BoettingerTuesday,21 May 2013

The Snap:

This past Saturday, a lucky Powerball winner in Florida went to bed $590.5 million richer. I normally don’t think about the lottery much but someone close to me became convinced that winning would mean not having to worry about money and instead focusing on what really matters in life. Sadly he didn’t win but instead of being bummed, some studies suggest he should count his lucky stars as those who win big seem to find the quickest ways to destroy their own lives.

The Download:

I’ve never bought a lottery ticket. A few months ago when there was a ginormous jackpot I contemplated buying one. Whilst walking my faithful canine companion, I plotted out what I’d do with the money. I’d buy a house with a wraparound porch, library, fireplace, and yard; I’d pay off my siblings’ mortgages and nieces’ and nephews’ student loans; I’d back a friend’s business; and I’d donate to the animal shelter where I got my dog, my high school, and a few charities. Oh and I’d quit my job, write full-time and learn Italian.

But I got too nervous at the thought of winning, so I didn’t buy a ticket. I imagined everyone that would come to me for help and having to decide between giving and not giving them money. I was too stressed thinking about how to divvy it up in a way that was fair and made sense, so I decided not to buy the ticket. Yes, I am that neurotic.

A lot of people can’t handle quickly becoming rich. A study of 35,000 Florida lottery winners who won $50K-150K from 1993 to 2002 showed that 5.4% were bankrupt within 5 years. Then there are lottery winners whose family members try to kill them, children and grandchildren die from drug overdoses, and who blow it all on bad business deals and hookers. Something about all that money drives the commonsense out of people faster than Lindsey Lohan can get out of jail.

The handsomely mustachioed American journalist Ambrose Bierce described the lottery as a “tax on people that are bad at math” and the odds of winning the Powerball certainly support that idea. The chance of winning is worse than 1 in 175 million. You’re more likely to be struck by lightning while being attacked by a shark that has just sunk a hole in one. In other words, I am more likely to find and date a single, sane man in the D.C. area than you are to win the Powerball.

So, is it better not to be rich? It certainly seems to suck to be poor. Maybe the solution is to have enough money to support yourself but not so much that you lose your damn mind. For all you richies who fear losing your sanity, I’m here to help. I’ll gladly take some cash off your hands so that you stand a better chance of being happy. What can I say? I’m a giver.

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Hat Tips:

ReutersSmart MoneyForbesNew York TimesThe Atlantic WireCNNABC News, Image Credit: Flickr

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