So What Exactly Happens When Someone Wins the Lottery?
Winning a big ticket lottery very often isn’t all that it cracked up to be and despite a windfall of cash, a surprising number of winners have gone on record as saying winning the lottery was the worst thing that ever happened to them. And some could never end up saying it because of the surprising amount of murder that occasionally happens after, as we’ll get into. But as to the more normal non-murderous awful, this is something that might have a lot to do with the fact that lottery winners (at least in the US) often receive little to no advice on how to adjust to their newfound wealth, which may sound obvious and easy to some, but there are a number of pitfalls we’re guessing most have not considered that have nothing to do with having well managed investment accounts.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Simply put, if you win the lottery in the United States, after confirming with whichever lottery authority issued the winning ticket that it’s genuine, there’s pretty much only a single thing you need to do before the money will be paid out- choose whether you’d like the jackpot paid out in a single lump sum or in annual payments spread over the course of several years. While the standard for Powerball and Mega Millions – the two largest and best known lotteries in the US – is for these annual payments to occur over the course of 29 years, some smaller state lotteries offer more flexible payment options.
It’s also worth noting that the decision to claim a lottery win anonymously isn’t one available to all winners because many states require that the details of winners be published, which will be huge in what we’re going to discuss in a minute on the reality of winning the lottery. But for now, once this decision is made on how they want the money given them, the winner will then receive either the lump sum or their first annual payment and their contact with whichever lottery authority they were talking to will cease.
On the surface this may not seem all that bad until you consider the host of problems that can arise from suddenly potentially becoming a multi-millionaire overnight. For starters, a major lottery win would immediately put you in the top percentile of earners in the United States and since lottery wins are considered taxable income in the U.S. (making lotteries even more a steal of a deal for governments as we’ll get into shortly when discussing exact figures), you’d be liable to pay a not insignificant percentage of your winnings to the Man come tax time. Nobody at the lottery office is obligated to tell you this and while it might seem obvious to some, countless lottery winners have found themselves being bankrupted by improperly estimating tax bills and spending too much of their winnings.
Even stuff as simple as getting the money paid into your account can be difficult, since many banks have limits on how much money you can pay into a single account at one time. Now, you may be thinking- well, couldn’t I just open a new account that has no such limitations? And the answer is yes, but what kind of account would be best and countless other such trivialities that the more affluent may be well versed in simply isn’t something on most big ticket lottery winner’s radars, which perhaps is a theme you’re picking up on, and we’ll dive into the specifics of why shortly, along with all the murder.
Now, an obvious solution to these problems and any others that could arise as a result of winning the lottery is simply to hire a bunch of financial and legal advisers and pay them to figure all of this stuff out for you. In fact, the number one piece of advice given in nearly every single big ticket lottery winner case is to consult a financial adviser, with most sources saying that you should realistically try to do this before claiming the money so all your ducks are in a row from day 1.
Even the official website for the Missouri Lottery tells winners to “get professional tax and/or legal advice to help you decide the best way for you to claim your prize”. Which begs the question, if the advice to seek professional advice is so ubiquitous, why don’t they just have an expert on the subject work for the lottery office? You know, like they do in the UK. Specifically Camelot – the company that operates the National Lottery in the UK – have what the call a team of “Winners Advisors”. These impartial advisers are basically tasked with, in the words of Camelot’s Senior Winners Advisor, Andy Carter, “looking after” anyone in the UK who wins £50,000 or more on the Lottery.
So what does this entail exactly? Well, the first thing Andy’s team does is contact the winner and set a date for them to meet, either in the winner’s home or at a Camelot regional office, to pay out their winnings. Deciding when this meeting takes place is entirely in the hands of the winner, though they’re strongly advised to make it a weekday, mostly because that’s when most banks in the UK are open. Winners are free to ignore this advice of course, but choosing for the meeting to take place on a weekday means that the winner can request for a portion of their winnings to be brought to the meeting in cash so that they can celebrate before the money clears in their account.
Speaking of banks, given the nature of their work, the Winners Advisors team have contacts working for every major bank in the UK and can arrange for a representative from any one of them to be present at the meeting with the winner. This representative can then, if the winner so desires it, set up a private bank account during the meeting. The main benefit of this is that such a bank account is effectively hidden, allowing a winner to maintain a high degree of anonymity. To quote Andy himself:
“We have contacts with all the major banks. Some of them have departments that just deal with lottery winners. We get one of those representatives to come out while we’re with the winner, and they open up a separate account that’s shielded from the branch network. So if you were to walk into a branch of your particular bank, they would never know that you have this money. It’s about ensuring the funds go over there discreetly, and swiftly, and make sure the winners have access to advice.”
Andy’s team can also have legal and financial advisers sit in on the meeting, none of whom will be privy to to the winner’s contact information unless the winner allows it. This is done to allow the winner an opportunity to pick the brains of a seasoned expert on say, tax or inheritance law in an impartial setting.
On this note, unlike in the US, winners in the UK can absolutely claim their winnings anonymously and as noted, the Winners Advisors team can make special accommodations to allow the money to be put in a secret account even the winner’s local bank manager won’t know about.
Now, although it’s noted that the vast majority of winners do claim their winnings anonymously (Camelot won’t provide exact figures, but someone working for the Winners Advisors team has been quoted as saying only 10-15% of winners ever go public), The Winners Advisor team can provide advice on how to adjust to life in the public eye as a multi-millionaire if the winner wants them to.
The Winners Advisors team will generally go through the potential pros and cons of either announcing a lottery win or remaining anonymous with winners, basing the advice they’ll give on a brief interview they’ll conduct with the winner when they first speak on the phone. This interview, along with putting the winner at ease and walking them through what exactly is going to happen over the coming days, will attempt to establish who, if anyone, the winner has informed of their win, what they plan to do with the money and their current financial situation. This brief snapshot of a winner’s life will allow the team to tailor the advice they give and help them decide what kind of advisers to bring along to the initial meeting.
This being the UK, unless the winner wants to claim their prize publicly, in which case a photo-op can be arranged with a large novelty check (which by the way you can actually cash in most cases, though usually a more normal sized check is also given for convenience and the big check voided and kept as a souvenir). In this public presentation, members of the press are also generally present, though because British people are going to British people, the actual act of being paid is fairly muted. According to official Camelot protocol, upon confirmation of the winning ticket being valid, a representative will say to the winner very simply: “Congratulations, you are a winner and I can pay you your prize.”
At which point the winnings will be paid into whichever account the winner specified. As an aside, in the UK lottery winnings aren’t considered to be income, so this payment will be 100% tax free. Though winner will invariably be liable to pay other taxes and fees, all of which they’ll be informed of prior to receiving their winnings.
After the metaphorical dust settles people who won particularly large jackpots will be given access to financial advisors and legal experts whose services are made available to the winner free of charge should they need them. The idea being that a winner can receive impartial advice should they feel like they need it. Exactly when the Winners Advisors team breaks contact with a winner depends on when the winner themselves feel like they no longer need help or advice, with some breaking contact almost immediately and others staying in contact with the team for many months.
Curiously, despite the aforementioned fact that multiple American lottery winners have very publicly gone bankrupt, or in a surprising number of cases even murdered, following a large lottery win, there seems to be no real push to adopt a similar system to the UK, where such stories are massively less common.
So let’s now dive into the more personal side of winning the lottery in the land of the descendants of the terrorists who rebelled against King and country a few hundred years ago, and see just why winning a ton of money via the lottery often results in people’s lives being significantly worse than before.
Enter a study done by Mark Hoekstra from the University of Pittsburgh covering 1,900 Florida lottery winners who won $50,000 to $150,000. According to this study, this group was significantly more likely to go bankrupt within five years than small time lotto winners (under $10,000), and about twice as likely to go bankrupt over the normal population. Just as significant, before winning, these $50,000-$150,000 lotto winners were no more or less likely to go bankrupt than the general populace. The act of winning itself doubled their chances of going bankrupt.
What’s even more surprising is that in the vast majority of these cases, the $50,000-$150,000 was significantly more than the total debts held by the winners at the date of winning, yet instead of just paying off their debts, most simply blew the money and then often acquired debt at a faster rate once the money ran out.
So what’s going on here?
Well, it’s complicated, but let’s start with why the Lottery also has the nickname “A Tax on the Poor”. You see, a whopping $60 billion a year in the United States alone is spent on lottery tickets, most of which are purchased by low income individuals. (All total, about 20% of Americans play the lotto). Despite the high number of lotto tickets purchased annually, when playing the lottery (in all its forms), you’ll win an average of just 53 cents for every $1 you spend, making it one of the lowest return rates of any form of commercial gambling, and thus extremely profitable for the various government bodies who run the lotteries, especially when considering winnings are themselves also taxable.
According to a study by Emily Haisley et al, the lottery operators can get away with this low return rate by pricing the tickets so cheap compared to the potential payoff, that people just keep coming back for more. Low income people, among other reasons according to the study’s findings, were significantly more likely to play as they perceive their own wealth to be lower than average. Thus, they attempt a low cost way (individual ticket wise) to rectify the issue, even though they know the chances of it working out are incredibly low. It is at least SOMETHING, they can do to try to rectify the situation without costing much on the surface in money or effort. A sort of Hail Mary pass for their lives just to see. Now, if these individuals were to add up the total amount they spend per year on lottery tickets and had to pay it in one lump sum on the set of tickets all at once, they’d not be nearly as willing to play, and likely could have really used that money for other things. You see, the most startling number in all of this is that those who make $13,000 per year or less in the United States, on average, spend about 5% of their gross annual earnings on lottery tickets, which also, at least in part, starts to explain the whole bankruptcy issue.
Going back to the discussion of bankruptcy, according to wealth counselor Szifra Birke, an estimated 1/3 of all big ticket lotto winners and others who suddenly come into wealth will file for bankruptcy within 5 years of receiving this cash influx. Birke says:
For many people who come into wealth suddenly – whether they win the lottery, receive an insurance settlement, or an unexpected inheritance – if they have not acquired good money skills prior to this windfall, often they struggle and make poor choices. If someone is in trouble financially, if they’re spending more than they are making or are relying emotionally on the lottery to bail them out, then that’s a big problem.
Surprisingly, those who get the money and then choose to start their dream business, rather than just blow the money, these people are generally no better off than those who just spent the money on hookers and blow. She states they usually have no idea how to run a business and just throw money at any problem that comes up, rather than develop a business that can potentially be profitable someday. For example, Ken Proxmire- who was a machinist when he won $1 million- rather than blow it on nothing like so many others, he did the sensible thing and started a business, a car dealership. Within five years he had to file for bankruptcy and was back working as a machinist.
Even for those who “keep their head down”, so to speak, and use the money wisely, there’s still some negatives that come with it. For example, 53 year old Steve Granger in 2009 won $900,000, receiving approximately $600,000 after taxes. Despite the modest, but still potentially life altering winnings, which he and his wife simply put away for retirement, he and his wife began to be met with resentment from those they knew and started hearing things like “There goes the lottery people,” said in spite. There was also a phase that lasted a while where random strangers kept grabbing him and his wife “for luck”.
This sort of thing wasn’t limited to the Grangers. The son of Billy Bob Harrell (you’ll hear more about their incredibly sad story below), Ben, stated, “First of all, we had to change our phone number about seven times. It was supposed to be unlisted, but then someone would call. People seemed to have no trouble getting the number. We also got a mountain of mail.”
Worse, they were bombarded with “business opportunities” from random entities, along with the letters from individuals, mostly M. Thénardier-type letters – people sending sob stories, maybe made up, maybe not, and asking for a share of the winnings. For instance things like, “People would tell you that their daughter was dying, and couldn’t we just send a check to help her live. They’d tell you their life story, and you’d like to believe them, but you just can’t,” said Ben.
They also had numerous people driving by and knocking at their door for a similar purpose. One woman at Walmart grabbed Harrell’s wife, Barbara, after spending $500 on lotto tickets. She threateningly told Barbara that if she lost on the tickets, with their “luck” not working on her in that case, they had better refund her money. This is all not to mention the occasional problem suffered by some lottery winners where people come out of the wood-works to try and find an excuse to sue them, which is also a potentially problem you’ll face by being a very public big ticket lotto winner.
Then, of course, besides such drawbacks, there are the train-wreck situations where winning the lottery, rather than make their lives better, made them demonstrably worse in just about every way, and occasionally ended them. Briefly, before we get into some of the other pitfalls you probably haven’t thought about with respect to suddenly becoming very wealthy, here are just a few of the many such train wreck stories we came across in our research on this one, which illustrate a lot of the issues for many:
Enter the aforementioned Billy Bob Harrell who is perhaps a poster child for how things can go wrong even for someone who wins a ton with the lottery, but doesn’t even necessarily overspend for themselves. Harrell won $31 million in 1997 ($58 million today), taking the 25 annual installments rather than the lump sum. At the time, he was working at the Home Depot after being laid off of a couple other jobs in the previous few years. He quickly bought himself a ranch, but also critically six other homes for his family, and several new cars.
After the initial splurge, he spent very little on himself and simply had his checkbook out and ready for anyone who contacted him saying they needed money. This became problematic because he started getting more requests than he could afford. The sob stories people were telling him, he was believing, unlike the rest of his family, and it supposedly tore him up inside, according to his son, and he just couldn’t bring himself to say no when he had been so fortunate. He even lost 50 pounds (220 to 170) apparently from stress of it all.
As stressors and friction mounted, his wife, Barbara Jean, soon divorced him. As funds became even tighter, he became involved with a Texas company that promised him $2.25 million right off the bat if he’d sign over 10 years of his winnings (about $12 million). Despite everyone, including his financial adviser, which he did have, advising him against it, he was determined to go through with it. When asked why, beyond desperately needing the money right then, he stated that he was in so deep, he figured if he backed out, they’d just sue him for the money anyways, which, again, lawsuits can also be a major issue for very public big ticket lotto winners. Thus, he signed the deal.
20 months after winning the lottery, he attempted to reconcile with his wife, but she refused. It was then that his son found his father in his mother’s house, naked, and having shot himself in the chest with his shotgun. There was a note “I didn’t want this. I just wanted you.”
There was no sign of the $2.5 million he’d traded the $12 million worth of installments for, and no money at all available to pay the estate taxes. His once fairly happy family was broken and the grandparents reportedly were even feuding with his kids, convinced it wasn’t suicide, but murder, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Before his death, he told his financial adviser, “Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Something one William “Bud” Post III concurred. Bud won $16.2 million in 1988 (about $41 million today). After winning, his ex-girlfriend sued him, claiming she deserved a share of the winnings. She won. His own brother and his wife hired someone to kill him, no doubt hoping to be able to inherit some of the winnings. William quickly blew through the money buying houses, investing in various business ventures proposed to him (most likely people scamming him), cars, and other such things for himself and his family and friends who incessantly bugged him for money. Within 1 year of winning the $16.2 million, he was $1 million in debt, then filed for bankruptcy, and started living on food stamps and a $450 social security stipend. He died in 2006 at the age of 66.
He said of winning the lotto, “I wish it never happened. It was totally a nightmare.”
This brings us to Abraham Shakespeare. Shakespeare, who was near illiterate and had dropped out of school in the 7th grade, won $31 million in 2006 (about $46 million today). Like so many others, he didn’t spend much on himself, at least relatively speaking. Mostly he just bought himself a $1 million home, a Nissan Altima, and a Rolex watch. Beyond that, he seems to have been fairly conservative when it came to himself, but as is a major theme ended up spending much of his money on family and friends. Eventually, unlike many, he wised up, stating, “I’d have been better off broke…. I thought all these people were my friends, but then I realized all they want is just money.”
Three years later, he suddenly disappeared. One year after this disappearance, his body was found- he was murdered by one of these people who pretended to be his friend. The murderer ultimately found to be one Dorice Donegan Moore. Moore had used a variety of means to get Shakespeare to give her millions. She even started a business with him that she was going to run. After it was founded and the bank account full, she withdrew $1 million and went on vacation.
In the interim between his disappearance and his body being discovered, his family at first thought he’d just become fed up with the constant stream of people begging for money, and just left to start a new life. In the end, they began to grow suspicious of Moore’s apparent attempts to make everyone think Shakespeare was still around, such as texting people from his phone (which was a major red flag because, again, he was near illiterate), and paying people to say they’d seen him, including offering $200,000 to Shakespeare’s son to tell detectives he’d seen his father recently. She even attempted to pay someone $50,000 to say they murdered him. She was finally arrested and the body found after attempting to pay someone to move the corpse.
Investigations later revealed, completely unrelated to any of this, Moore had previously attempted to say that her car was stolen and that she was kidnapped and raped in the process. She even taped her own wrists, threw herself from someone’s car, and took a rape exam. Why did she do any of this? Because she was behind on payments for her car and it was going to get repossessed; this was her way of trying to get to keep it, by claiming it was stolen.
Now let’s talk about a little twist on this- someone who handled everything very well, one Jeffrey Dampier. Dampier won $20 million in 1996 (about $28 million today). Although Dampier did do the common thing of spreading his wealth around, buying various things for family and friends like houses, cars, and the like. He also founded a gourmet popcorn store, Kassie’s Gourmet Popcorn, which surprisingly was quite profitable, and on top of that, allowed him to give jobs to certain family and friends.
Nine years after winning, he was doing quite well overall. So what went wrong? Enter one Victoria Jackson, who called him out to her apartment. When he arrived, her man, Nathaniel Jackson, pulled a gun on him. They tied him up, drove him out of town, and then Victoria shot the 39 year old Dampier in the head. Nathaniel Jackson stated it wasn’t about getting money, “You kill the goose, then no more golden eggs.” It was about resentment over Dampier’s fortune and success.
The list goes on and on and on, with the prevailing themes from so many where it all goes wrong generally centering around first- the vast majority of winners simply do not come from a background where knowing how to manage a large sum of money optimally or properly factor in taxes and all manner of things like this is something they know how to do. Second, especially in the U.S. where many lottery winners cannot remain anonymous, or at least not easily (in some cases, some do use an intermediary to claim the prize for them, but this is fraught with potential issues), people come out of the woodwork to try to get money from them, from family and friends to random individuals offering business deals or to help them manage their money who really just want to take it, or even potentially sob stories on how life changing some of that money could be to them- something the lotto winners can easily empathize with. Lawsuits can also follow, whether frivolous or not- still a nightmare. Spending most of the money on friends and family and getting scammed out of the rest is sadly a huge issue.
But what about for those who manage everything well and avoid the other common pitfalls? Now able to live the dream, right? Well, not always either. You see, it’s likely if you suddenly jumped in economic class to a significant degree, you also are at much higher risk of experiencing another issue of a more social nature, which on the surface may seem trivial, but is actually pretty fundamental to humans humaning and being able to be happy.
Enter the results of a 4 year study fittingly titled – The Joys and Dilemmas of Wealth. As the name of the paper suggests, wealth comes with a number of positives and negatives that may not be apparent to someone whose bank account primarily contains the wrong kind of zeros. One of the main drawbacks revealed in this study was the propensity for the wealthy to feel immensely isolated from their fellow man. Or to quote a client of a wealth psychologists called Robert A. Kenny on the matter – “Wealth can be a barrier to connecting with other people.”
While a knee jerk reaction from that might be to whip out a tiny violin and start playing, consider that meaningful connections to your fellow humans are one of the most fundamental urges to being a human.
As to why wealth imparts such isolation, even sometimes when surrounded by people, there are several facets to this. For example, one issue here, which can even ruin relationships that might have otherwise been fine, is the constant wondering if those around you only want to be your friend or partner because they want something from you. Naturally, given there are many individuals in this world perfectly happy to leech off others with a smile on their face and otherwise capable of seeming genuine about it, there are almost always these people around the wealthy, sometimes mixed with those who actually care, and somethings not. Telling the difference isn’t easy.
On top of this, as noted by one well-off unnamed woman responding to how wealth interferes with her relationships, she states she has particular difficulty when revealing her financial situation to men, who generally feel emasculated by her. She sums up, their role as “provider had been usurped”.
Similar sentiments have been expressed by wealthy men who opine they find it difficult to know for sure if women they’re interested in are really interested in them in return, or if they are only interested in their money.
Moving on from there, as we’ve previously alluded to, there is also the potential of those you otherwise really care for and maybe even formerly cared for you becoming jealous of your financial state, or in times of their own financial strain getting upset at you for not offering to solve their problem with your excess. And even if you happily do so without any strings or even needing to be asked, there’s another problem of potential resentment or the like that can, and does very commonly, arise from that- for example, some individuals after feeling a bit like a charity case, and lesser in general for needing your help in the first place. This all further creates tension between the two of you, which can strain even the best of genuine friendships.
Beyond these potential pitfalls to social connection, making such associations with those of more humble standing can even be dangerous, as noted. It turns out as will come as a shock to absolutely no one, while most people are generally decent enough, a small percentage are not. And this can cause major issues when you’re wealthy, particularly if wealthy in a high profile way like with big ticket lottery winners in the United States.
But, even if you somehow manage to achieve, what is sometimes called “stealth wealth”, even this doesn’t always solve the issue of social isolation, at least, as hiding various major facets of your life isn’t exactly a recipe for developing a deep and intimate relationship with someone. But more than that, regardless of whether your friends know or not, there is the potential disconnect in your ability to relate to the day to day lives of those of lesser financial standing and they to yours. And since in some cases most are now of much lesser financial standing than you, finding those you can really connect with can be difficult.
If you still need a bit more practice on that violin, moving on to the next issue, we have the case of those who didn’t work for their money like lottery winners, and now no longer need to work as is the case of some of the biggest sum lottery winners. While you might think they’re living the dream, it turns out this is probably the worst issue of all- extreme boredom and inability to find fulfillment in one’s day-to-day life.
While you may no longer be able to hear us over the sound of all the violins, without the structure and sense of purpose things like work bring, many rich individuals find themselves struggling with depression, aimlessness, and end up feeling even more isolated from the world.
In the end, humans, and many other animals it turns out, need a sense of purpose, which is no better illustrated than in our video- That Time a Guy Tried to Build a Utopia for Mice and It All Went to Hell.
In a nutshell, a researcher named John B Calhoun made a world for mice in which everything they could ever want was provided and they did not have to work for any of it. While initially the population of mice exploded from 8 to 620 members, within a year populations started declining despite infinite resources and, a year from then, the entire civilization of mice were dead.
As to why, the researchers observed that social bonds effectively broke down and male mice, without a reason to defend their territory or food source (since both were plentiful) became dejected, forming cliques that randomly attacked one another for seemingly no reason. In the lead up to this, certain of the male mice began continually mating with whatever mouse happened to be around, be it male or female. Many of the mice also began to simply kill and eat one another, despite the abundance of other food sources; mothers abandoned babies, mice would crowd together in groups of 50 or more in pens designed to hold 15 individuals, while pens with plentiful bedding sat empty inches away.
Most intriguing of all were a small group of males and females who withdrew themselves from mouse society altogether to live in the upper levels of the enclosure, a group that Calhoun dubbed, “The Beautiful Ones”.
These mice did nothing but sleep, eat and groom themselves (this gave them noticeably smoother looking coats which, along with their isolation meaning no scars from attacks, led to their nickname). In the end, these mice seemingly lost interest in all meaningful social bonds, refusing to interact at all with other mice, including ceasing to mate.
Fascinatingly, even when the population receded to levels where the mice had previously flourished, they refused to breed or go back to their old way of interacting with one another.
A few months after the last birth on day 600, all of the mice were dead. Calhoun noted that although the population had survived for many months afterwards, it had effectively died on the 315th day- the day social bonds broke down, stating: “Their spirit has died (‘the first death’). They are no longer capable of executing the more complex behaviors compatible with species survival. The species in such settings die.”
If this sort of seemingly oddball behavior is reminding you a bit of the stereotypical spoiled ultra-rich kid who doesn’t make it past their 20s, well, from this and other such studies, it perhaps shouldn’t be surprising.
On this one, moving beyond the wealthy, we have the stereotypical retiree who never finds anything to do after they leave work and dies shortly thereafter. Whereas their more active brethren, who find a new purpose and things to do, often live significantly longer, and also consistently report feeling happier.
In the end, rich or poor, having a purpose or something to work towards, for whatever reason, seems to be yet another fundamental need.
On a potentially related note, being unable to enjoy the simple things in life is another common theme with the tremendously wealthy, with one expert on the matter stating quite matter-of-factly – “extreme wealth can take away some of the basic joys of living.”
As you can imagine, the wealthy are keen to avoid passing these problems on to their children, with a key fear being that endless resources will “rob their children of ambition”. Failing to forestall this one is yet another log to throw on the fire, given a fundamental joy in life is watching one’s kids grow into healthy and reasonably happy adults- not watch them despondent, lonely, depressed and killing themselves because there is no point to anything for them.
From this, it should come as no surprise that one of the things the wealth psychologists are paid for is for advice on making sure their kids don’t end up like that, as well as counseling for the silver spooned’ brats themselves.
This brings us to the final of the chief issues commonly reported- extreme sense of guilt at their life situation compared to others, which with lottery winners perhaps not great at managing money and very publicly in the spotlight as having a lot, tends to further spur them to give their money to others who ask for it. Especially as they so often come from relatively impoverished backgrounds themselves so by virtue of this, most of the people they know are in a similar boat, and genuinely could use the help.
Combining this altogether, according to at least one wealth therapists (the aforementioned Kenny) – one easy street ticket out of a lot of these issues for the wealthy and their children is to discover the extreme satisfaction of more structured philanthropy. This tends to build relationships that wouldn’t have been there before, including with those interested in similar causes to you, fixes to some extent the guilt problem in a productive way, gives one a sense of purpose that is genuinely important to the lives of others and a community, etc. etc.
That said, even this is not without its pitfalls, and in some cases means a much higher profile for your wealth and activities.
Perhaps illustrating both the great positives and negatives here in the most extreme way, we have Bill & Melinda Gates- the former couple who have dedicated the latter half of their lives and their entire fortune to helping solve some of the world’s major problems, as well as trying to save as many lives as possible in the process, including probably already having saved more lives through their work and money than any two humans in history. If that wasn’t enough, they also set up their organization in such a way that it will continue to be a boon to humanity seemingly as long as civilization exists. Meaning it’s entirely possible they go down in all of human history past and future, as the greatest philanthropists of, quite literally, all human time.
Despite all of this, if the comment sections here or on our todayifoundout.com website any time we even just mention the name Bill Gates are any indication, a rather surprising percentage of people loathe them with every fiber of their being.
In the end, no matter what you do, inevitably some aren’t going to agree with your decisions and where you put your money for many possible reasons, some of which because you may have genuinely screwed up. After all, you are still human, as are those working in organizations you may support, so along the way occasionally mistakes will be made, and in a more high profile way for yourself. Further, if you’re focusing your efforts on a given area, you’ll inevitably have a clearer picture of a problem than many others have, so you can even be in the right and still be perceived as wrong. And regardless, there are no perfect solutions to complex problems, so you’ll make more people mad that way when you knowingly support a solution that is obviously flawed in some way, simply because you think it has the greatest net benefit despite this. Further, you’re a high profile human. And a human, meaning you’ll also occasionally say and do stupid things, and you better believe the media will pounce on those and paint you to be awful because it gets the clicks. Now, you might actually be awful, but few people truly are, so odds are this is a caricature, and not really representing the real and complex you. Thus, unless you somehow manage to channel your inner Mister Rogers from youth to old age, it’s likely many people are going to ultimately have a negative perception of you.
Combined with the already inherent dislike of the wealthy a not inconsiderable number of people have, it would seem even if you’re the greatest philanthropist in history, a rather large percentage of people will hate you. And some will hate you precisely because of your specific philanthropic efforts. Of course, if you’re super rich and aren’t giving to various causes, people will hate you for that too.
And on top of that, with all of these problems with wealth and more, if you ever feign to vent about them to just about anyone, you’re almost guaranteed to get a rather unsympathetic reaction given your socioeconomic status, and the fact that you spent Christmas flying to Fiji in your private jet with your stunningly beautiful wife… who you might otherwise vent to, but you know good and well she doesn’t care about you and is only with you for your money.
And that’s where wealth psychologists come in- someone you can pay $1,000 an hour to to pretend to care…
Of course, despite everything we’ve just said, most of us would still happily trade our current set of problems for those of the huge sum big ticket lotto winners. But, it turns out, rich or poor, human nature is human nature. While money can solve most problems, there are some things extremely fundamental to humaning (and apparently micing) that an abundance of resources can paradoxically rob you of, even if you make sound financial decisions after winning that huge sum.
Or, to paraphrase famed scholar Christopher Wallace- more money means more problems.
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