10 Lottery Stories That Prove Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness
Playing the lottery — whether a scratch-off ticket or multinumber drawing — is exciting. You never know if you might win big. If you do, what would you do with the money? Perhaps buy a new car, pay off your mortgage or go back to school?
When you win, it’s normal to feel happy. Your mind might race with all the possibilities. As the days go by, that happiness might start to wane. In fact, researchers discovered those who win big in the lottery don’t see increased happiness or improved mental health.
Winners feel increased levels of satisfaction, though. This is how you feel overall about life and can persist for more than a decade after winning. They are financially stable and face less stress about the future. Happiness, on the other hand, is an assessment of your day-to-day feelings.
The 10 stories below prove that, no matter how much you win, money doesn’t buy happiness.
1. An Instant Million
At 17, Jane Park became a millionaire after winning EuroMillions. Four years later, she sued the lottery for negligence. Park initially thought the winnings would make things better, but in reality, she claims it ruined her life. Sure, the money bought her nice things, but Park now faces hate and cyberbullying.
2. A Misplaced Fortune
At 16 years old, Callie Rogers became Britain’s youngest lottery winner, hitting the £1.875 million jackpot. Today, at 32, Rogers says, “I was too young. Overnight, I went from carefree child to adult.” She claims she suffered both physical and verbal abuse after winning, hounded by people who wanted a piece of her newfound fortune. She claims the money’s gone now after spending thousands of family and friends. She currently works a career earning £12,000 a year and says she’s happier than ever.
3. An Overwhelming Experience
Rene Amaya, a resident of Washington, D.C., purchased a 50X The Money ticket from a local 7-Eleven. Once he got home, he scratched his ticket to discover he was a $200,000 winner. “I turned pale. I couldn’t talk,” he says. It’s not unusual for lottery winners to feel overwhelmed by the experience. After getting his bearings, he decided to use part of the money toward his children’s education.
4. A Habit of Bad Expectations
In 1978, researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Massachusetts surveyed recent winners of the Illinois State Lottery. They also interviewed a group of accident survivors, those who were paraplegic or quadriplegic. In the end, the victims found more everyday happiness than lottery winners. Experts say this could because people are horrible at predicting what will make them happy.
5. A Moment of Fame
In 1982, Curtis Sharp was an air conditioner repairman. Then, he won $5 million in the New Jersey Lottery. He enjoyed a brief burst of fame, even able to meet celebrity artist Andy Warhol. He quickly spent most of his money on booze and bad investments, like a scheme to build electric cars with batteries that don’t need to be recharged. Today, Sharp advises, “Get yourself a lawyer before a Cadillac.”
6. A Brand New Burden
In 2002, nearing midnight on Christmas day, Jack Whittaker won the Powerball jackpot, a tidy sum of $314 million — the largest ever won by a single ticket at the time. Soon, lots of people began asking Whittaker for money, some even threatening his family. “At first, I didn’t think anything would change, but everything has changed,” he says.
7. A Fall From the Top
In the ’80s, Evelyn Bashore won the New Jersey Lottery twice, with winnings totaling $5.3 million. After, she headed to Atlantic City where she gambled away her entire fortune. Now, in her 60s, Bashore claims she is broke, working two jobs and living in a trailer park. “Winning the lottery isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” she claims. Bashore says after winning, everyone wanted her money and got a handout.
8. A Shocked Surprise
Steven Lomonaco’s son loves the board game Monopoly, so he decided to stop at Sheetz in Waynesboro, Virginia, to pick up a MONOPOLY Multiplier Scratcher. He was surprised to learn he’d won the top prize — $400,000. “We’re still in disbelief,” Lomonaco claims. Lomonaco says he intends to use the winnings toward bills and his children.
9. An Unfathomable Sum
In 1961, Vivian Nicholson, a cake-factory worker in Britain, won more than £150,000 in the Littlewoods football pool — a sum that would be worth nearly $5 million in the U.S. today. When asked what she would do with the money, Nicholson responded, “spend, spend, spend.” Howard, Nicholson’s son, claims her upbringing in poverty led to her lavish shopping habits. She was incredibly generous, even though she eventually lacked money to give.
10. A Quick Decline
In 1993, Janite Lee, a South Korean immigrant and wigmaker from St. Louis, won $18 million in the lottery jackpot. Lee wanted to do good with her money. She moved her family to a gated community and spent much of her winnings on philanthropic efforts. However, Lee soon went bankrupt and had to settle her debts in court, a sum totaling $2.5 million.
Winning the lottery is exciting. Opportunity is knocking at your door, and you have the option to answer. However, lots of money is not a guarantee of happiness.