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Lotto Winners

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Campbell gives some stories about how people get jealous of lottery winners. He writes:

The New York Times Magazine of April 23, 1995 contained a study of recent lottery millionaires – people who had won between $1 and $31.5 million. The lives of most of them had, apparently, been destroyed by their sudden wealth, mainly due to the reactions of their friends and families and strangers and their responses to these reactions. Many of them did not understand that $1 million is doled out at $50,000 a year over 20 or 25 years – before taxes. But it is the attitude of friends and relatives that is most shocking; many winners said they were happier before they won!

Debbie from Colorado records: ‘One sister didn’t speak to us for a year because we didn’t pick up a breakfast check; another expected us to repay her school loans. A close friend borrowed money and we didn’t hear from him again for three years – when he called to borrow some more.’ Teresa was 25 when she won $1.3 million; there was a party to celebrate. ‘Of all the people who came, not one speaks to me now,’ she recalls.

Bernice took a day off work to claim her million; when she went back to work, she was told her job had been given away. She and her family moved to South Dakota; she and her husband divorced. Now she tells no one her secret. When Cindy won $2.5 million ten years ago the first person to call was her best friend; not to congratulate her but to protest angrily, ‘What right did you have to win ?’ Her mother did not speak to her for six years because she thought the money should be shared with her sister who had scratched the numbers on the lottery card.

Bud Post won a $16.2 million Pennsylvania jackpot in 1988 and was dead broke five years later. Worse, his brother was in jail charged with hiring a hit man to murder Bud and his sixth wife for the lottery money. Mary Ellen Snipes spent three and a half years in court fighting her ex-husband’s claim for half the fortune of $31.5 million.

Most bizarre, perhaps, is the story of Daisy Fernandez, who won $2.8 million, and then was sued by the teenage son of her friend, whom she had asked to pray for her. Christopher had prayed to his favorite saint; and when his prayer was answered, he claimed half the winnings. He lost. But so also did all the others who put envy and jealousy before friendship and contentment.


Source: Campbell, K. (1996). Those ugly emotions: How to manage your emotions (90). Ross-shire, GB.: Christian Focus Publications.

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