Jackpot! You ‘win?’

Photo by Billy Bui

Winning big in the lottery can be a disaster
By EG Manilag, Staff Writer


I don’t mean to rain on someone else’s parade, but this must be said. Winning the megabucks can mega-backfire. You might be asking “how?” But first, let me tell you that winning the lottery is not a curse. It just so happens that, many lottery winners end up in bad situations after winning lots of money.  There are so many reasons why lots of money could actually be life ruining.

Your relationships could be ruined. Winning so much money at once can lead to a series of family conflicts and peer pressure to give your “pals” a cut of your winnings.

It became necessary to be careful about who I make friends with because some people can be cruel and have alternative motives for befriending you. Some feel that just because you have money, you owe them money,” said Sandra Hayes, one of the 12 people at her work in Missouri who split a $224 million dollar Powerball jackpot. Damn right! It’s like saying, if I can’t have it, you have to share. For another example, couple Adrian and Gillian Bayford won £148 million in 2012 but split up 15 months later, saying the pressure of their win was part of the reason, Mirror Online news reported.

Winning a huge lottery can be overwhelming, making your sense of responsibility sink down the drain. Like 2002 US lottery winner, Jack Whittaker garnered a whopping $315 million dollar Powerball jackpot.

“Since I won the lottery, I think there is no control for greed,” he said. “I think if you have something, there’s always someone else that wants it. I wish I’d torn that ticket up.”

A lot has happened in his life: he was robbed, his house was set on fire, and his granddaughter and her boyfriend died from drug overdoses—something he attributes to his winning. His life was ruined by his lottery win. Even though us Canadians aren’t taxed on our lottery wins we can still be taxed in other more personal ways.

Strangers will try to milk you for all you’re worth. They want a piece of your pie regardless of how distant they are in relation to you. They’ll use deceptive tactics like pranks, scams, and bogus lawsuits. For instance, Global News BC reported that a BC man who won a million dollars in the lottery in 2018 was sued by his former co-workers for not sharing the pot. They claim that they each pitched in $5 for the lottery ticket, so they were entitled to a cut. It is very depressing—instead of other people congratulating you, they get jealous and essentially haunt you for their share.

Another example is teen Fortnite world champion Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf. Through effort, blood, sweat, and tears, Kyle found his way to winning the $3 million dollar grand prize in Fortnite world cup solo competition. Although it’s not a lottery win, he still got into a serious dilemma. A couple of weeks after his victory, his house was “swatted”—a dangerous prank where someone calls 911 to tell them that a serious violent crime is happening at a streamer’s house.

It was a very distressing situation for Kyle and his family. Luckily, according to Kyle from his Twitch livestream, one of the officers lived in his neighborhood and immediately recognized Kyle, so situation was diffused. Nevertheless, this perilous prank could have gone terribly south as SWAT teams have no way of telling whether the call that they’re responding to is a joke. Despite Kyle winning the money through a competition instead of the lottery, he was still victimized.

Money is a means, not an end. It shouldn’t be recognized as the ultimate goal in life. In my opinion, instead of waiting for the apple to fall from the tree, or for lightning to hit you, why not invest—or just save your money?  You don’t have to be financially savvy to know that playing the lottery can make you lose money, you just have to know the most basic principle of wealth-building—“spend less than you make.”