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Winning The Lottery - A Dream Come True Or A Curse?

Updated on May 21, 2013

Everyone dreams about winning a lottery. Some of us buy tickets every week in a hope to hit the jackpot one day.

They keep dreaming about this blissful moment, when they will not have to worry about money anymore. The day when they will finally be able to quit a day job, go on an expensive trip or buy this beautiful house at the seaside. They keep fantasizing while living the life full of financial problems, trying to make ends meet each month.

From riches to rags in less than 5 years

And maybe this is the best for them to keep dreaming forever as the reality of winning is quite daunting. Statistics say that at least half of big jackpot winners end up in poverty within first five years of winning.

Who would have thought that a mere paper can have such a power over human existence
Who would have thought that a mere paper can have such a power over human existence | Source

They end up in much worse situation they have ever been in their life. They often become drug addicts or take their lives. Others live on benefits in poverty wishing they had never won the money.

It’s hard to believe in such a gloomy picture when most of people are certain that the big amount of money would solve all theirs problems. Still the evidence is quite solid and raise the question what factor is responsible for turning the lucky winners into even bigger losers.

  • William "Bud" Post, $16.2 million, Pennsylvania Lottery in 1988 – brother tried to kill him; spent all his winnings; was living off Social Security till his death
  • Billie Bob Harrell Jr., $31 million, Texas Lottery in 1997 - had bought cars, real estate, gave money to his family, church and friends; committed suicide
  • Michael Carroll, £9.7 million, UK's National Lottery in 2002 – spent his fortune on illegal drugs, gambling and prostitutes; he was given ASBO and also jailed for 9 months for affray; after few years he was back on £42 a week jobseeker’s allowance
  • John McGuinness, £10 million, UK's National Lottery in 1996 – 11 years later, he was deep in debt, without job and applying for a council house
  • Callie Rogers, £1.9 million when she was 16, UK's National Lotteryin 2003spent money on gifts for family and friends but she still felt unfulfilled; was taking drugs and tried to commit suicide; she is back on low income earning £4.85 an hour but she feels happy
  • Victoria Zell, share of $11 million, Powerball Lottery in 2001 – is serving time in a Minnesota prison for drug- and alcohol-induced collision; her money is gone
  • Pete Kyle, £5.1million, UK's National Lottery in 2005 – 3 years later his money was gone; he is working as caretaker, claiming around £100 a week in disability living allowance and mobility allowance
  • Andrew Jackson “Jack” Whittaker, $314.9 million, Powerball Lottery in 2002 – was robbed many times; became a heavy drinker and gambler; have got divorced; his granddaughter died of a drug overdose he sponsored with $2,100 weekly allowance

A World Turned Upside Down

Many reasons could be mentioned here like financial illiteracy or spending habits, but they all are caused by one basic issue - these people simply cannot cope with new situation. For people used to financial struggle, it’s a huge change. Their entire world is turned upside down. It doesn’t matter that the change is for good, it’s traumatic in the same way as it would be for a person from middle ages if they were moved to our times.

Old routines don’t work anymore, old behaviours are not useful and there is nothing familiar in the situation. The worst is that they are also very alone in that experience - there is nobody around who could guide them through. Their nearest and dearest cannot help them solve new problems as they never been in such a situation. And there are problems.

New challenges replace old familiar problems

Old financial issues are solved but there are new unexpected challenges like what to do for the whole day, and next after it, and all days in the next twenty or more years. Or how the rich person should behave, what should they wear and where should they live.

There are people related challenges as well - how to react to neighbours and strangers asking for sponsoring, how to deal with family and friends? How should they deal with nasty financial institutions or bad people threatening their lives or lives of their family? There are hard questions to answer and there is one more, about the life purpose.

Life without purpose is not satisfying

Their old life was usually very simple. They used to spend most of their day at work, coming home for a dinner and a few hours of relax at the TV or playing with kids. Occasional trip to the restaurant or the cinema during weekend and annual holiday for two weeks – it was their life. It was boring but well known and well defined reality. Suddenly they find themselves in a situation when nothing is defined, nothing is certain and they can do everything. But what is it they want?

They actually want to feel comfortable again. The new situation overwhelms them as they had no chance to adjust gradually to it. People that are successfully rich haven’t become like that in one day, it was constant process of growing for them. This is what the winners were not given – time to change.

Leaning towards old habits and familiar situation

So it should not be surprising that they subconsciously move toward the old good days, to the safety of being poor, losing the money as quickly as they can. Lack of knowledge about dealing with money helps a lot in the process so it doesn’t take much time for them to be back where they have been or worse. For some of them distress is so big that they try to commit suicide.

Rich thinking is the key to the rich life

It’s the reality for many winners but not for all. Those who actually benefit from the win were already living rich lives. It doesn’t necessary mean they had a big amount in their bank account but in a sense of feeling and thinking rich. They had a purpose and they were realising their dreams already. The jackpot money simple helps them to achieve what they wanted quicker or in a better style. It’s just a useful resource for them in pursuing their goals and living the life on their own terms.

Everyone can live a rich life, he or she just need to give it a chance today and then the day dreaming about the lottery win will be replaced with much better dreams that will actually come true.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      These guys are nuts. It's so easy to live with that amount of money. Bank is working for you. Just just collect income every 6 moths or 1 year.

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you Vickiw for your comment - I must admit I also take the same approach - despite of all the evidence above I keep thinking I would do just fine ;)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very interesting Hub! I like to think I would manage just fine when I win the lottery! There I am, thinking just like a rich person!

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you very much for your wise comment Jynzly and for taking a time to read my hub.

    • Jynzly profile image

      Jenny Pugh 

      7 years ago from Marion, Indiana, USA

      Such a factual observation. Abundance is a state of mind...being rich is a mental orientation or attitude. It's not the amount of money that makes one rich in the real sense of the word. Money come come and go and and if it's gone what's in a person? Being truly rich is a balance in all eight major areas in life. Balance is the key.

      Such a wonderful hub, I vote up!

    • dicaslotofacil profile image


      7 years ago

      Who knows, someday I really won the lottery, because who does not want to improve their lives.

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you Princesswithapen for your comment. I totally agree with you - it would be a way to go for me, pursuing my passion or passions as I have many of them :)

      However, many people are not lucky enough to have even one, tiny passion, so I guess they have nothing to pursue and when their need of money is gone as they have them, there is nothing meaningful left to fill their days.

    • princesswithapen profile image


      7 years ago

      It is quite hard to believe what people do to themselves after winning big sums of money. Putting most of it away and living on the interest while pursuing your passion would be the thing to do. But I guess that's just not exciting enough for some people.

      This hub made for an interesting read.


    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great plan Nina, so the only thing left is to wish you to win big :) Good luck!

    • nina64 profile image

      Nina L James 

      7 years ago from chicago, Illinois

      If I won a large sum of money from the lottery, I would NOT quit my job!!!!!! Those benefits at your job far outweigh any amount of money. After you get thru paying taxes, consumer debt, loaning out to friends & relatives, what do you have left? It takes a lot of careful planning when it comes to winning the lottery. Invest some of your winnings so that it can work for YOU and you can live off the interest. That's my plan!!!

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Depends how you define medium large sum @Maren :) Whenever I start thinking what would I do if I won, I start with reasonable amount and quite quickly I realise that I would need much more to be able to take care of my whole family and friends, so in my opinion having less doesn't make it easier ;)

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile image

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Perhaps the middle ground of winning just a medium large sum would be lovely?

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I'm glad you liked it @Cheryl and happy dreaming :)

      @AncientAviator - I would have agree with you on the loan thing - no control over it I'm afraid. However, if one looked at that from particular perspective - loan gives similar feeling - rich in instant but then the time to pay comes and it's often more than you expected

    • profile image

      Ancient Aviator 

      7 years ago

      A great Hub , But really are very rich people happy according to the media it does not seem so . Loved ones even one or two are worth all the money in the world .

      Footnote. The commercial with this Hub advertises pay day loans not exactly in tune with the Hub I would have thought .

    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 

      7 years ago from Houston, TX

      Very interesting and informative hub. To have peace and happiness is very important today. You have really opened my eyes and my mind to dream rich and life will be more healthier and enjoyable. Great hub.

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I can see @WannaB Writer that you have a full plan in place so you wouldn't definitelly suffer from being bored :) Thanks for your comment.

      @Eddie-Perkins - thank you so much! I liked your HubNugget too, it was really full of passion.

      @JeniferRW - I'm so glad you've enjoyed reading it :) And I'm sure you couldn't possibly grow to be a b*** ;)

      Those are very interesting stats @novascotiamiss, it's good to hear that you are happy without a fortune and enjoy your life, that's what we all need :)

      @triciajean - thank you for sharing the story, poor girl!

    • triciajean profile image

      Patricia Lapidus 

      7 years ago from Bantam, CT

      Ania, very insightful. Inheritances are also not always good luck. I knew a girl once who inherited $20,000--not a lot by some standards but a huge sum to her. Within two weeks her boyfriend had spent it all on boy toys such as a truck and a dirt bike and had wrecked all.

    • novascotiamiss profile image


      7 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Ania, congratulations on your hubnugget win, you definitely deserved it. Your hub gives us some food for thought. Another interesting fact I once read: "There is a 1 in a million chance that you win the lottery but there is only a 1 in a thousand chance that you will die of a deadly disease. However, people will carry on playing the lottery in the belief that they will win one day, totally ignoring that they should rather live a healthier lifestyle". Interesting isn't it?

      From my own perspective: Living on a frugal budget, I thoroughly enjoy a special buy or a cheap holiday. Honestly, I don't believe that Victoria Beckham or Paris Hilton get a lot of enjoyment out of a 1 Million Dollar shopping spree. So who is the happier person here? Definitely me!

    • JeniferRW profile image


      7 years ago from Couch

      Congrats Ania!! This is a wonderful hub! I enjoyed every bit of it :) It really does give you a lot to think about. I used to always say, 'God made me poor on purpose. He knew that if I had been born with a lot of money I would've grown up a b*t**.' I think when the thought of winning the lottery crosses anyones mind they don't realize the negatives involved. Anyway thanks so much for posting this You're a great writer!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for writing this hub, Ania. Everyone needs to know the effects of winning a lottery (positive or negative).

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Congratulations Ania!!!!!!!!!!! If there could be only one person I would have wanted to see win all the hub nuggets it would be you.

      But the comment you posted earlier secured that wish, “something that is more like a journey and not an end goal as such, so it would never end and would bring joy every day. In other words - a life mission”. You had my vote and still do!

    • WannaB Writer profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      7 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I've often wondered what I'd do if I suddenly came into a large sum of money. It will never happen, though, because we don't buy lottery tickets and we don' thave anyone left to inherit anything from. I would probably give away all my books to schools and go out of business. Then I'd see all of the United States that I've always wanted to see, and write hubs on it. I'd give away a good part of it to worthy causes and invest in small businesses that can't get loans. The rest I'd save in case I would need it for medical expenses or long term care. Congrats on your win.

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks @arksys :) I was really delighted to find out I have got the most votes for my hub in Health category, it feels great to win :) (If you checked with my bf he would tell you how I danced around the room shouting that I have won.)

      As for your comment about longterm goals, it's absolutely spot on. I have discussed it with someone recently and we've got to the conclusion that one needs not only a longterm one, but also something that is more like a journey and not an end goal as such, so it would never end and would bring joy every day. In other words - a life mission.

    • arksys profile image


      7 years ago from Adelaide, Australia

      Great Hub Ania, I had no idea almost half of them have ended up in this situation. Great advice on thinking rich. the thing that came to my mind while reading your second last paragraph was that people need to create some long term goals for themselves; then if they win they can use the money to achieve the goals.

      thanks for this hub and congrats on winning the hubNugget. :)

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Robin, puter_dr and onlinecashdigest - thank you for your comments.

      @puter_dr - it's great to hear a story that doesn't come from the news although I'm sorry to hear that your relatives went into similar trouble as some other winners. I totally agree that winning the lottery would be a challenge but I wouldn't mind facing it ;)

      As @onlinedigest says - what might be needed is just being reasonable about it instead of going nuts. Planning, thinking and keeping your old job at least until the new investments or whatever we decide to do, starts bringing expected results. I read about one guy who took this approach, kept his job and lived in similar standard as he used to. He simly liked it that way and he didn't end up bankrupt.

    • onlinecashdigest profile image


      7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Very good hub! One thing one must do when one wins the lottery is not to resign from your job. Just go on with your life and make the change slowly. Put your winnings first in about 5 banks for protection from any bank bankruptcy. Pay off all your liabilities first. And stop first and pause and get a hold of your life and plan.

    • puter_dr profile image

      Mike Bouska 

      7 years ago from Midwest USA

      I have had relatives who won 7 million. They went nuts, built a huge house, complete with elevators. Bought shetland ponies for their kids, and let them have them inside the house.

      Then decided, with no background, that they wanted to raise race horses. About 2 years later, with all but 500k gone, they decided to open a restaurant. Again with no experience in the field.

      In six months, it was closed, and they lost everything they had.

      They ended up moving in with his parents.

      I have always said that I would like the challenge of winning the lottery, and using it properly. I suppose I will never win, however, as I don't buy tickets.

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Yes, that makes sense. I think the point of the quote was that money cannot buy happiness. There are plenty of people who are happy without having a lot of money and I'm sure that there are those that money just causes problems like in the 16 year old's case. I would venture to guess she had no guidance on having money and how to manage it. I surely wouldn't have had a clue at 16! I'm gad that she has managed to find happiness again. I don't think you can win in the US if you're under 18. That seems like a fair law. Cheers! ;)

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Very true @Robin. However, I have heard of one English girl, that won the money when she was 16th and lost it almost all by 18th going through a hell of a life including drugs etc. Still she managed to create a new happy, life afterwards.

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Intriguing Hub, and congrats on your HubNugget nomination! I remember reading that if you are already happy, money can increase your happiness, but if you are unhappy money can make you even unhappier (I think because you are expecting it to increase your happiness and it doesn't). There should be counseling that goes along with winning the lottery. It's sad to see so many lives destroyed by it.

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks @srossjul, I'm glad it fits in with your hubs, happy hubbing :)

    • srossjul profile image

      Julie S Ross 

      7 years ago from Irvine, California

      Perfect article to mention in my HUB. I put a link to this hub from my hub. Thanks.

    • texasgirlfw profile image


      7 years ago

      Great hub.

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks @Kathleen for the story from this former lottery director. I also heard they (lotteries boards) keep eduucating winners and warn them about potential pitfalls as they know too well how many get into trouble.

      But I had no idea about having higher chances to be the only winner if computer picks the numbers. Sounds like it is best to have a lucky dip once and stick to those numebrs for next decade of lotteries or... save the money and use it for something else:D

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      A former director of the state of Georgia lottery spoke to our Chamber of Commerce and said if you are happy before you win, you will be happy after. If you are unhappy before, you will be after too.

      She said your chances of winning are not really improved the more tickets you buy. They are improved if you use the same numbers every time you buy.

      You are more likely to be the only winner if you let the computer pick your numbers than if you use your own, but that doesn't change the previous statement.

      Interesting topic. Thanks.

    • ratnaveera profile image


      7 years ago from Cumbum

      Great Points! A responsible family leader should not become addict to buying lotteries. Anyone can buy lotteries but, he should stop dreaming about jackpot. Thanks for presenting sensible Hub! Ania L

    • stephengoswami profile image


      7 years ago from Bible cnter, Islampur,pin742304, India

      Is not it written "Seek ye first the kingdom of Heaven(by love-exercise), then all the necessary things would be added to you even without asking"? But those who put the other things first end up in disintegrating hell even here, as these cant love-integrate us.Heaven is love-integrity.

    • kripkrip420 profile image


      7 years ago from In relation to what?

      Interesting post. Thanks for sharing! Voted up!

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you @Deborah.

      Recently I've read an answer to one question where someone said they still wait for their 'life to begin'.

      It immediately crossed my mind, that if they at least tried to live, that perhaps they would have higher chances of getting what they wanted ;)

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 

      7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. I especially like the last paragraph of your hub: anyone can have a rich life. I firmly believe we all have exactly the kind of life we want. If wanted something else, then we would do something else. Great job.


    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks Lori for your vote, the trouble is that even though we keep saying "money doesn't buy happiness", we all deep down hope it will solve all our problems like a magic wand.

      @ripplemaker, thanks for attaching a link to this hub. In fact, I didn't get this one in my nomination email, so great to know it exists and it's interesting to read! As for money managing, you are totally right. Funny thing is that people tend to think that if they have nothing to manage (no money) there is no point in trying. However, if they did try, they would probably had more and more each day or at least they would feel more in control of the situation.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Money problems will not be solved by winning the lottery alone. Your story is so true, if you don't know how to handle and manage your finances now, the chances of you being to able to manage your millions will be slim.

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! To read and vote:

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      7 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      It's so cliché, but money doesn't buy happiness. This was an interesting hub on a unique topic. I will be voting for you. Nice job.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You are welcome and you deserve to win. Thank you for the fan mail and the follow.

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wow, big thanks @Eddie for such a lovely comment. I truly believe in what I said in the last paragraph as this is what my personal life experience is telling me :)

      The life is for everyone to grab, we just need to reach out for it.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for writing this hub Ania. I agree with what you have written.

      I love the hub layout. I’m going to a new layout on my next hub.

      Your last paragraph is a nugget of great value; Everyone can live a rich life, he or she just need to give it a chance today and then the day dreaming about the lottery win will be replaced with much better dreams that will actually come true. I wish you well in the hubnugget contest. Vote up and awesome. (and I seldom give an “awesome” ~ eddie

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thanks for the comment @Aris. I think what you mean is that the more we focus on the money itself the more enslaved we are? I believe this is what happens to many people but luckily not to everyone.

    • Aris Budianto profile image

      Aris Budianto 

      7 years ago from Lying along the equator Country

      In many circumstances, money can make you happy, to charity for example but we are not enslaved by money. The more you think about it or try to reach or grab it, the more it went away. Just like the lottery, if we don't think about it, it just comes by itself, do you believe it? I hope you do.

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      You are absolutely right @Actively Awesome. Yes, money can't buy us happiness. Unfortunately not having them, doesn't make us happy either - the world is spinning around money these days. Still one can find happiness if they find something they really enjoy doing while earning them a descent living - like writing for HubPages for example ;)

    • Actively Awesome profile image

      Actively Awesome 

      7 years ago from Southern California

      I have seen a few shows that have told the stories of some of the unfortunate winners and it's sad, but the truth is, the people generally playing the lottery are spending money that perhaps should be saved. All in hopes to hit it rich and fix their problems/struggles.

      You hit it right on the nose when you said the people who have benefited from winning already lived rich lives. Everyone needs purpose and dreams, but I think it has to do with how they envision reaching these goals... work to achieve verses just plan luck or feeling that you deserve it.

      All dreams can come true, but not as easy as well all might hope. And as the old saying goes... money can't buy happiness.

    • Ania L profile imageAUTHOR

      Ania L 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you for your comments - yeah, it is also surprising how quickly tha fall can happen.

    • Dawn Conklin profile image

      Dawn Conklin 

      7 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      I never realized that so many people had these problems after winning the lottery! It does make sense completely but I guess it is something I never knew or thought about. Great hub, thank you for sharing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow! Thank you for sharing this information. I never thought that for some winning the lottery could make them feel worse than before. You would think that with the extra income their lives would transform and get better.

      It is also interesting how you point out that it is better to have dreams that will actually come true. That was a nice idea you suggested about thinking like a rich person. I should continue to do that.


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