Should You Win the Lottery? Are Lottery Winners Losers or Winners?


There is a common belief that lottery winners will come to disaster – that the presence of wealth brings all kinds of problems.  Stories are told – true stories- of lottery winners who have lost it all in a few years, even had tragedies occur to their family members.

However – winning the lottery seems to be like the rest of life -how it affects you is how you deal with it! Of course, how much you win is a factor: a study by Guido W. Imbens, Donald B. Rubin, and Bruce Sacerdote  found that “Winning $15,000 a year for 20 years would not have a major effect on your life. However, if you instead won $80,000 a year for 20 years, it would affect your labor force participation, automobile expenditures, the value of the home you own, and your savings.”


Camelot Group Plc the operator of The UK National Lottery  released a study of the National Lottery winners to discover that found that

55% – are happier after winning
43% – no affect on happiness
2%  – are less happy

“The happiness of the winner is not affected by the size of his or her
win.” So there seems to be a bit of a disagreement  here – some people can take whatever is  given and make more out of it – others cannot.

Of the 55% of winners who are happier:
65% – claimed the reasons are improved financial security and fewer
23% – say they can buy what they want and that life is a lot easier. According to this story:

There are no negative effects on family life or friendships:

95%  –  remained married after winning
100% –  who were living with a partner prior to their win (but not
married), are still in the same relationship (whether now married or

However: Increased happiness of winners’ families is dependent on the size of their relative’s win.

58% of winners of £250k (409,550 American dollars)or more state that their family is happier.
37% of winners of £250k (409,550 American dollars)or less state that their family is happier because of increased  financial
security (34%).

83% – have given some of their winnings to their family.

Of these:
66% – have given money to their siblings
57% – have given money to their children
51% – have given money to their parents.

“The findings also indicate that the larger the win, the more likely
that the winner’s family will ask for money.”

17% – of families asked for winnings from winners of £50k-£250k,
29% – of families asked for winnings from winners of £2m+.

When it comes to friends:

” 90% of winners who already had a best friend before winning are still
best friends with the same person.”  One thing that surprised me about this study is that although men are usually thought to have less friends than women  according to this study:

“Men gave money to three friends.
Women gave money to one friend.”

40% increased contributions to charity.
19% of winners went on holiday abroad for the first time.
12% of winners have still not been abroad.
7% of winners say a caravan (mobile home)  is one of their major purchases.
<40% of winners have moved since their win.

Of those who have moved:
75% now live in detached houses.

“Most of those who have moved have not moved far – an average of nine

26% of winners of large amounts often own more than one home and
25% of those own a property abroad.

10% of winners have switched to private medical care. (My note – remember that Britain has socialized medicine – the American alternative is that they would either get better care or alternative care or unfortunately care at all.)
1% has had plastic surgery.
3% have moved their children from state schools to private schools.

however 84% of winners have not taken up any new hobbies since their win.
12% of winners have joined health clubs.
32% of all winners state they have gained weight since their win.
14% lost weight.  (OY THE CURSE OF OBESITY.)

44% of their winnings were spent after 5 years

48% of winners who were in regular work before their win are
still in the same job.
27% of winners of elevated amounts are still in the same job.
56% of winners of more than £1m have given up work.
15% have started a new job since their win.
45% of those have started their own business.

“Winning the Lottery appears to have very little impact on the
winners’ perception of their social class or their political

52% of winners of £2m+ consider themselves to be working class,
compared with 60% before their win.

88% of lottery winners still participate in the lottery every week.
2% have stopped playing altogether.

Source: Nettime




According to Dr. H. Roy Kaplan author of several books on lottery
winners, “winning the lottery doesn’t change people’s lives as much as
is imagined.


“You can catapult people from one economic status to another
overnight, but a lifetime of beliefs and experiences change more

People who were outgoing and gregarious before winning took it in
stride,” Kaplan said. “People who were shy and withdrawn before
winning became suspicious and paranoid.

Most lottery winners keep their jobs, but find their relationship with
co-workers changed. Most are inundated with requests for money, both
from friends and strangers.

Money doesn’t change a person’s level of happiness, said Kennon
Sheldon, a psychologist at the University of Missouri at Columbia. “We
consistently find that people who say money is most important to them
are (the unhappiest),” Sheldon said.”

Source: Gaming magazine


“42% percent of Americans would keep their current job even if they
won at least $10 million in the lottery, said Nancy Bunn, spokeswoman
for Burke Incorporated of Cincinnati, the contractor that conducted
the survey. The percentage of would-be lottery winners that would keep
their jobs was even higher among respondents older than 45.”
Source: ABC News


Nearly one-third of lottery winners become bankrupt.

“The CFP Board made an offer to the National Association of State and
Provincial Lotteries to provide the organization’s members with
information to distribute to winners. The Investment News article
highlighted the lack of financial guidance many winners receive from
state lottery agencies; estimates show that nearly one-third of
lottery winners become bankrupt.”
Source: Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc


Wealth brings unhappiness.

“A new study by American psychologists has found that cash and
popularity do not bring nirvana. Experts say that excessive wealth,
particularly for people unaccustomed to it, such as lottery winners,
can actually cause unhappiness.


There is evidence that there are very wealthy people who are very
unhappy, particularly people who were not born to wealth like lottery
Source: BBC News

Of course there is the other side:

“A San Francisco Chronicle article titled “Big lottery winners know a
lot about what not to do” states:

“The newly wealthy spend most of their first $1 million on travel”

“Research shows that a significant number of lottery winners lose
their winnings within five years, said Stephen Goldbart, a
psychologist and co- director of the Money, Meaning and Choices
Institute in Kentfield, which advices people who come into financial

“We’ve seen people who had decent marriages who came into money and it
destroyed the marriage. Bringing a huge amount of money into the scene
is a life-changing event,” Goldbart said.”

“A hermit drank himself to death just two years after winning $2.57
million (1.8 million pounds) in the lottery.”

“Tom Grey, spokesman for the National Coalition against Legalized
Gambling, said Virginia state lottery officials found in 1999 that of
300 millionaire winners, as many as 60 eventually encountered
financial problems.”

Source: San Francisco Chronicle article 2002”

So what is the conclusion here – the lottery does not bring happiness, nor does it take it – like the rest of life  it is your attitude that is the key.

(Thanks to the google researcher bobbie7ga who initially did this research:


When Roseanne and Dan won the lottery – they found that it was a mixed bag: lots of changes in their social life – but they were sitting on that giant wad of cash!

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