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Lottery "Winner"

There's been a lot of talk about Powerball around the office for the last week or so.  With the jackpot reaching $1.5 billion, it has probably propelled even non-gamblers into the arena of ticket purchases.  I certainly don't blame anyone for doing so.  It's a dream that everyone has, I'm sure.  At one time or another (if not lots of times) all of us have dreamed about what it would be like to come across a seemingly endless supply of money.

Now the sad reality is that the jackpot is entirely comprised of lost and wasted money.  It's not quite as alluring when you think of it in those terms.  That money comes pretty much from the bottom of society, financially speaking, and is paid to someone who gets unpreparedly thrust to the top.  It's a backwards Robin Hood effect.  ThinkProgress stated the following concerning the subject.

And it’s those who can least afford to lose any money who are most likely to be buying tickets. Low-income people account for the majority of lottery sales, while sales are highest in the poorest areas. One study found that the poorest third of households buy more than half of the tickets sold in any given week.

Profit from those ticket sales go to government coffers. The share of lottery profits that is paid out to players varies greatly by state, from just 15 percent in West Virginia to 76 percent in Massachusetts. But even that smaller share in the latter state is an important source of revenue. In 2009, lotteries in 11 states brought in more revenue than the corporate income tax. And thus the lottery acts like an implicit 38 percent tax on mainly the poorest people.

Others suppose that there is a curse on lottery winners.  NYDailyNews lists a select few of the known disasters to the lives of lottery winners as

  • Abraham Shakespeare - won $30 million in 2006 and was so hounded by family and friends for money that he desperately transferred his assets to his newfound female friend who offered to help him avoid those seeking money from him only to be murdered by her shortly afterwards.
  • David Edwards - won $27 million in 2001, returned to drug abuse, spent it all, had almost nothing to show for it after living in a storage unit and then dying in 2013 on hospice at only 58.
  • Jeffery Dampier - won $20 million and reportedly showered his family with cash and gifts and yet was kidnapped and shot in the back of the head by his sister-in-law.
  • Urooj Khan - won $1 million and was found dead the next day of apparent cyanide poisoning.  Despite both his sister-in-law and father being suspected of being involved, no one was ever charged.
  • Michael Carroll - won $15 million in 2002 and managed to burn through all of it on parties, prostitutes, and cocaine so that he was left with nothing when he was finally jailed in 2006 for drug possession.
  • William Post - won $16 million and managed to be $1 million in debt just one year later.  He was forced to declare bankruptcy, his own brother was arrested for hiring a man to kill him, and he died while on food stamps at 66 years old.
  • Jack Whitaker - was already worth $17 million when he won $315 million in the lottery. He had churches built and donated 10% to Christian charities and even started a charity to provide food and clothes to low-income families.  But, his life fell apart when he became an alcoholic, had his wife leave him, was robbed twice, was sued, had his granddaughter and her boyfriend die of drug-overdoses while she lived on a weekly allowance from him, and even had his daughter die of unknown causes.  Both he and his ex-wife said that they had wished that he had torn the winning ticket up.
  • Evelyn Adams - won the lottery twice in two consecutive years totaling $5.3 million and then gambled it all away at casinos in a short span.
  • Billie Harrell Jr. - won $31 million, donated money to those in need, lent cash to close friends, but when he went broke two years later, his wife left him and he subsequently committed suicide.  Before his death, he said "winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me."

The article where I found all this stated that nearly 70% of lottery winners wind up broke within seven years.  I don't know that there is a "curse" per se on the lottery, but I am not sure there isn't.  Perhaps, and more likely, it's that when you take a normal person with normal problems and you very publicly pour money into their lives whereby exponentially amplifying their finances they also have their problems exponentially amplified in turn.

It makes you wonder.  Before I read all the crazy stuff above, I was already aware that I would have to bump up my family's security if I were to win (not that I play the lottery, I don't).  I would want some things that we don't have now, sure.  But, I realized that along with that, I would need to hire some security or something, because it's not living confortably if you're living in fear of being robbed or threatened.  When people know you have money, it likely attracts people who would like to take that money from you if given the opportunity.

Come to think of it, I'm willing to bet that most people are forced to move to avoid all the people who would just show up looking for a handout.  That would have to be unfortunate.  Just to have to uproot your life because of something "good" happening to you.

All this makes me think about one thing.  I will never win the lottery.  I know this because I don't play the lottery.  And, I understand that not playing the lottery seriously diminishes the chances of a person winning them.  That said, I will live in luxury some day.  I will live in a palace built by the King of Kings and I'll get to hang out with Him face to face.  I will dine with Him and I think that I'll even get to play soccer with Him.  I won't have to worry about security, or financial advisers, shady accountants, or anything.  I'll be taken care of and I will want for nothing.  I won't have to go to work and I'll get to chill with the family all day.  Jesus already won what matters for me, so I don't need to win anything.  With that knowledge, I don't need to want for anything here either.  I don't need to worry, because I'm already being taken care of regardless of what my circumstances may look like.  Just like a lottery winner, I didn't do anything that makes me "deserve" what was given to me.  But, far unlike a lottery winner, what was given to me cannot be taken away, lost, or destroyed.  AND, I can share all I want!  It never runs out!

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