When I am not daydreaming about what it would be like to meet Michael Jackson, I am usually thinking about what it would be like to have a bajillion dollars. Not so sure people share my first dream, but I can almost guarantee that an insurmountable percentage of individuals fantasize about winning the lottery. With unemployment being high, the mortgage crisis and ever-increasing debt, winning the lottery would definitely solve a lot of people’s problems.
UPDATE, March 2012: With the Mega Millions Jackpot up to a record $640 million, here is yet another reason to rethink playing this lottery.
I hate to be a total buzzkill, but winning the lottery may not be exactly what it’s cracked up to be (unless stress, heartache and death is what you’re imagining — then it’s totally cracked up to be the right thing). Here are 5 reasons you may want to rethink your dreams of winning the lottery.
5. You Like Being Married
Debt can put a lot of strain on a family, but a few unfortunate lotto winners prove that riches can cause just as much strain. Juan Rodriguez thought his life had finally turned around when he won the New York State Lotto jackpot totaling $149 million. This win couldn’t have come at a better time considering Rodriguez had filed for bankruptcy the month before and, at the time, had $0.78 in his bank account.
Even his wife reconciled with him, now that he had a chance at paying the $44,000 in debt he owed to creditors after his $88.5 million bailout. The reconciliation didn’t last long though, a month later his wife filed for divorce and for rights to half the $88.5 million, which resulted in frozen access to his funds. Eventually the divorce went through and Rodriguez doled out half his prize, but hey, at least he settled his debts!
William Hurt’s life turned upside down after he won the $3.1 million jackpot in Michigan’s 1993 Lottery. It only took 2 years for Hurt to relapse into a cocaine addiction, literally blowing through his earnings. The relapse caused his wife to leave him in a bitter divorce and he lost custody of his children, leaving him with nothing.
4. You Don’t Want To Be Killed
Abraham Shakespeare, a 43 year-old truck driver’s assistant and middle school dropout, ended up winning $30 million Florida jackpot in 2006. He only enjoyed the money for three years before he disappeared in 2009. His body was found a year after his disappearance, in the backyard of Dorice Donegan “Dee-Dee” Moore’s boyfriend. Moore, a business partner, was later charged with the murder of Shakespeare. Before his death, Shakespeare disclosed to a childhood friend, “I’d been better off broke.”
Jeffrey Dampier Jr., won the $20 million in the Illinois Lotto in 1996 and chose spend his winnings by showering friends and family with gifts. One of his family members chose to repay him in the worst way possible: murder. Dampier’s sister-in-law, Victoria Jackson, along with her boyfriend kidnapped and killed Dampier in July of 2005. The two were accused and convicted of murder in 2006.
3. Bankruptcy is Unappealing to You
Wait, what? Winning the lottery is the exact opposite of bankruptcy but these next few individuals experienced just that when they won big. Evelyn Adams, a New Jersey native seemed to be the luckiest person on earth — she won the lotto TWICE, within four months. Her winnings came out to a total of $5.4 million combined. She had full plans to go back to school, and possibly even open up a music store. None of these plans came into fruition, and 16 years after winning Adams had to move into a trailer park having given away and spent all her winnings.
This isn’t a unique story in the lotto winner community, William “Bud” Post, won $16.2 million in 1988 and quickly watched his life disintegrate in front of him. On top of that, his girlfriend broke up with him and successfully sued him for 1/3 of the jackpot, his brother hired a contract killer to murder him — not the best results. Post ended up going bankrupt due to poor money management. Eighteen years after winning Post told the Washington Post, “I was much happier when I was broke.”
2. You Are Superstitious
Are you beginning to see a pattern in these stories? Winning the lottery sucks. Even though it seems like just a bunch of freak-coincidences occurring to people in the spotlight, there is a whole “Curse of the Lottery” theory out there. If you don’t believe in curses, tell that to Jack Whittaker. Whittaker is one of the most infamous individuals plagued by the curse. After his $315 million winnings, he was a victim of grand-theft, his granddaughter was found dead under a van due to drug overdose (just months after her boyfriend died from the same reason inside Whittaker’s home). These deaths proved to be too difficult for Whittaker’s wife, Jewell, and she ended up filing for divorce.
As if the story isn’t depressing enough Whittaker’s daughter (mother to the deceased granddaughter) died 5 years after her own daughter had passed for the same reason. Whittaker currently has no family or fortune, his account was been emptied by thieves according to Whittaker himself. CafeTerra reached out for comment on the situation to which Whittaker stated, “I wish I’d torn that ticket up.”
1. Your Life Isn’t That Bad
Debt is horrible, there is no way of getting around it. Many people are in extremely dire situations and would give up their left leg to be able to pay off student loans, credit cards, medical bills and so on.
But take a moment to think about it, do you really want to win the type of money that will have friends and media constantly on your tail? I don’t want to use the overstated clichè ‘Money doesn’t buy happiness’ but…If you really think that money will solve all your problems, become proactive about your debt and look for ways to get back on track. A good way to start is to look into Personal Financial Management tools. Some may cost money to use, others come in free apps. Even if you don’t have a smartphone to download an app, you can always take to the web for free advice and guides.