If you won, would you tell?

What if it happened to you?

For a while after it happened, you could not log into the UK National Lottery website without the smiling faces of a couple in Gloucestershire taking up a healthy chunk of the screen.

This lucky couple won over £56M on the Euromillions in February of this year. It is inspiring but, I have to admit, it does also induce a wee bit of envy. By broadcasting the winning story to the UK public, the strategists behind the National Lottery want readers to think, “If that couple can do it, so can I.” Sharing their winners’ success stories is a ploy to increase ticket sales.

While I do feel a tinge of jealousy, I am also very happy for the Gloucestershire couple. Unfortunately, there are some out there who read a story like this and are not just jealous but think, “I want my share of that money.” And, there are those will go so far as to contact the winners. Using pleas and intimidation, they will do what they can to try to get the winners to dole out some of their cash. People will give all kinds of justification as to why they think they should have it. Deluding themselves into thinking their ticket purchases over the years have financed the winners’ jackpot, is at least one of the reasons I have heard people will use.

Winning a lottery jackpot can be a curse.

The story of the winners in Gloucestershire followed another that was reported in January. This story was in the news - not on the Lottery website.

The previous story was about a young man who won the lottery at the age of 17 in 1997. The prize was not £56M but a mere £2M. Still, people camped outside of his house and constantly nagged him for a share of his winnings. He died last January, some saying it was suicide, because he got tired having no real life. He went mad with spending after he won the lottery and then suffered for the publicity ever more.

Playing the lottery is good fun that fuels the imagination.

It is a fun hobby - playing the lottery and indulging the fantasies that go with it.

Imagine that ecstatic moment when your senses are hijacked by euphoria and the surrealism of finding out that you are an instant millionaire. It begs the question. If it does happen, would you tell anyone? And, if so, who would you tell? Who could you trust with that kind of life-changing information?

There is the temptation to want to brandish your good news like a sword of karma in the face of a former (or current) boss who made or (makes) your work life a living hell or an ex-partner who treated you badly. It would be so satisfying to tell those who have told you it is foolish to buy lottery tickets, anyone who has ever been nasty, negative, or anyone who has ever doubted you or made you feel inferior in any way, “Ha-ha! Who is laughing all the way to the bank now?”

However, even if you have not had a hellish boss or an ex-partner that treated you badly,even if there is no one on your naughty list, winning a lottery jackpot would be a very tough secret to keep. It would be nice to be able to say to friends and those you love, “Hey, I won the lottery – let’s celebrate!” and then to do something extraordinary for them such as buy them a house or a holiday they have always wanted or just be able to finance an amazing party somewhere exotic. I think the impulse to be excessively generous would be the hardest to resist.

Whether a curse or a blessing all depends on how you manage your winnings.

The problem is that once you tell one person, then they will tell someone else (even if they promise they won’t, they will). Even with all promises to keep it hush-hush, the person they tell will tell someone else, who will then whisper in the ear of someone who will be the one who thinks that you must give them a share of that money – regardless of whether or not you know them personally. Even people you think you know well could react strangely to the news that you are suddenly a millionaire.

So, what do you do?

This may seem like a far-fetched problem. If you have never won the lottery, you might be thinking that your chances of winning are so small that it is senseless to worry about the problem of what to do after you win until it actually happens.

But, waiting until you win might be too late.

It is true, that while playing the lottery captures the imagination and ignites fantasies of becoming rich overnight, no one can debate that the odds are so phenomenally against the player. And, in the sea of seemingly endless possible combinations, what are anyone’s chances of ever picking the right combination to win that ever-elusive jackpot? But people do or they win through the random pick selections such as lucky dips or quick picks.

The only 100% guarantee with the lottery is that you will never win if you never play. However, the minute you buy a lottery ticket, you are in the game. There is a chance (albeit very tiny but still very real chance) that you could win the jackpot. You have at least as much likelihood of winning as anyone else who has played and won. The best time to think about what you will do after you win is before you are caught up in that psychological and mind-fogging euphoria.

Here are a couple of suggestions that may help to keep a level head in the very wonderful case that you do win:

First, evaluate your philosophy about money earned versus money gained from winning the jackpot:

Some believe that won money is different than earned money, that the source of the money means it holds different obligations. This stems from the idea that because the odds of winning the jackpot are millions to one, there must be some kind of karma involved when someone does actually win. Therefore, that karma and obligation for sharing is also attached to the money itself. The same kind of karma is not attached to money that is earned because it comes as a result of an exchange rather than luck.

Similar to the above, there are people who believe that won money is not serious money. It is akin to monopoly money, almost as if it was not real and should only be spent on luxury and entertainment since earned money is for day-to-day living and expenses.

Do you believe that if you are lucky enough to win the lottery jackpot, that you are then obliged to share it? If so, as strange as it may sound, you might subconsciously feel guilty if you were to win the jackpot, feeling that you did not deserve it.This may impact on your ability to keep quiet about your winnings and hold onto your money.

If you think of lottery winnings as "fun money" which should be spent on extravagances, then you may also find it difficult to get into the mindset to manage your new wealth appropriately.

Second, curb your euphoria in advance:

The euphoria that comes from winning the lottery is largely fueled by the subconscious disbelief that it could happen and shock when it does. By accepting that the possibility of your winning is a reality as long as you have bought a ticket, you can help to curb some of that euphoria. This will help you keep your wits about you after it happens so you don’t go running out to the world and screaming with joy that you are now a millionaire. And, then have everyone else scream back at you, "share the wealth, then!"

One way to ground yourself in advance is to put your dreams on paper. Write down what you will do if and when you win the jackpot. Break this down into amounts: if it is less than one million/more than one million, etc. Decide what you will do with significant but much smaller wins: pay off debts, buy a new car, go on a holiday, etc. Create an agreement between you and your partner that outlines how you will manage your winnings if and when it happens, who you will tell and how.

This agreement should also specify whether you will you want your winning to be made public or not. If you play the lottery with a pool or syndicate, it is important that you all agree on the publicity element of your winning. If four of you want privacy but the fifth person wants to go public, this could spoil it for the rest of you who wish to keep the good news restricted to only a few select people.

Something to think about including in your agreement is the commitment to put aside the majority of the money for a while to give yourself some time to get used to the idea of being a millionaire. Then, while you sit on it and contemplate your new-found richness, get some good advice from a trusted and professional financial advisor.

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Comments 14 comments

Michael Shane profile image

Michael Shane 6 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

I already told my wife...if we ever win, no one is to never know...Cool topic..


thevoice profile image

thevoice 6 years ago from carthage ill

terrific hub question thanks


M Selvey, MSc profile image

M Selvey, MSc 6 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Michael and thevoice, thank you both for reading and for your comments! Michael, I think that is the smartest way. Managing that amount money would be hard enough without the pressures from outside.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

I'd tell everyone, and then disappear.


M Selvey, MSc profile image

M Selvey, MSc 6 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Haha, Great answer, lmmartin! Thank you!


valeriebelew profile image

valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

Hello M Selvey. I don't generally enter the lottery, but if I did, I think I'd instinctively consult my family members, some of whom are already millionaires. They would help keep my feet on the ground and make some good suggestions on how to invest. Since it would be difficult to keep winning the lottery a secret, moving may be in order, since other wealthy people would not be particularly impressed with your millions. The reason so many wealthy people are seen as snobs is because it is difficult to trust others when you have money, and so much to lose. You have hit the nail on the head. Telling others would be a mistake; unfortunately, I'm not sure you could keep it a secret with the lottery people putting your name and picture out there to increase ticket sales. Some interesting thoughts in this hub. (:v


M Selvey, MSc profile image

M Selvey, MSc 6 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Valeriebelew, you are lucky to have family members who are millionaires :-) I also think you are right they would help you keep your feet on the ground and would not be bleeding you for your winnings. I fully understand the "snob" perception - as I can only imagine how difficult it would be to trust others when you have a lot of money - especially when it comes through something as random as the lottery.

Most lotteries, I think, allow you to decide whether or not you want to go public with your winnings. For some reason, the couple from Gloucestershire did go public. I wonder if they are regretting it now or if they found some way to hide away into obscurity. Maybe they used some of their money to buy new identies after they went public! LOL!

Thank you for your comments and much appreciated addition to this hub :-)


PaperNotes profile image

PaperNotes 6 years ago

Perhaps we always wish and dream of winning the lottery simply because of the really great amount of prize money. Yet we tend to consider what great changes such experience will bring to our lives....I won't tell in case I win, lol!


M Selvey, MSc profile image

M Selvey, MSc 6 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Papernotes, so true! Thanks for your comment! As of this moment, I think I would not tell but, euphoria might take over my senses and I would blab and spend!


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 6 years ago from Sunny Spain

I don't play the lottery but if I did I would tick the privacy box if there is one. My parents used to do the Football Pools.

The prizes from back then on the Pools seem so tiny compared to those of the lottery winnings of today.

The Football Pools did have a box that you could tick for privacy.


M Selvey, MSc profile image

M Selvey, MSc 6 years ago from United Kingdom Author

maggs224, thank you for your comment. My husband talks about the days when his father did the football pools. He was quite good at it apparently. But,the potential rewards were not near what you can get with the lottery, especially Euromillions. Even still, with the small wins, wise to keep it quiet.


Not my name 4 years ago

I just read this and your other article about how to strategically play the lottery. I found both articles very informative. I play in the United States. Rules vary by state and unfortunately in my state, one MUST report one's name in order to collect her/his winnings (for the same, publicity reasons, I imagine.) I had an idea. I was thinking of immediately changing my name if I win and then declaring my prize under my new name. I would also change superficial things about my appearance for the TV spot (like wearing a wig, etc). That way, the real me could continue my life without as much interruption. I'm sure I would still need to move to a rich neighborhood, etc. But I thought this might be a good way to start. Then, one day I might even change my name back (if people are no longer following-I would only do this if it were not traceable). What do you think? Feel free to do the same when you win, but don't forget to credit me with the idea, even though you don't yet know my name. :)


M Selvey, MSc profile image

M Selvey, MSc 4 years ago from United Kingdom Author

Interesting comment, oh nameless one! However, from what I have heard, but do not know from experience, you can request privacy from the lottery even if they have your name from the payment they make to you. So, no need to go through all that work... sounds exhausting! Best to just quietly enjoy your winnings, I would think. So, don't forget to credit me with that idea when you win :)


billyzeke 2 years ago

If i win the lottery i quickly cut my phone off bar the windows and doors and stay away from outside world forever . Simply because i read the horror stories of those who won like 2 million - 10 million going belly up after 2 years. Because now your on your own whatever you had from gov't assitance is POOFED* you now need to but your own helth insurance pay for scrripts etc.. In other words dont go giving away 100'000's Thousands to family and friends! Would they give you any cash if they won? NO MFW baby be very aware this all you have for rest of your life invest smartly lkive off interest and your kids kids will all be taken care of after you pass away.

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