Is Winning the Lottery Really a Curse?


Lottery_9060 (Photo credit: aepoc)

Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof sang, “If I Were a Rich Man” where he dreams of the material comforts that wealth would bring him. He sings of an enormous house he would buy and the luxuries he would fill it with, including a staircase that leads to nowhere, but is just for show.

Tevye then switches his attention from luxuries by singing about the material things he would shower on his wife if he were wealthy. He sings of servants to lessen her workload, expensive clothes for her delight, and mountains of food.

Tevye’s song suddenly turns to wailing about his current condition in life as a milkman, but he just as suddenly breaks out into the hope of how wealth would raise his self esteem and importance within the community.

In the final verse of the song, Tevye softens his tone by considering his devotion to God, expressing his sorrow of having to work long hours and not have the time to go to the synagogue like he really wants. He reasons in the lyrics of the song that if he were wealthy, it would allow him to have more time praying and studying the Torah. He concludes the song by asking God if “it would spoil a vast eternal plan if he were a wealthy man.”

The setting for the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, took place in 1905 in Russia. Man’s aspirations and dreams to become wealthy have not really changed since the fictional time of Tevye, the poor Jewish milkman that raised five daughters.

In America today, the poor also dream of being wealthy and some are even rewarded for their efforts. Since a national lottery was established in 1994, there have been over 2500 millionaires made by the national lottery system. One day you can be dreaming of having millions, and the next day you can be a millionaire. Or at least, that is the dream for millions of Americans who play the lottery every single day. But what is the real truth about the lottery?

A recent study published in 2010 by researchers from Vanderbilt University, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Pittsburgh, showed that lottery winners winning larger cash pries were more likely to file for bankruptcy protection within five years after winning the lottery than people winning smaller cash prizes or not winning at all. Their conclusion in the study was that the risk of bankruptcy seems to be directly related to the size of the prize you win.

Certainly, there has been numerous bankruptcy stories told about winners whom were suddenly blessed with large sums of money but never learned how to manage it. Some have suggested these winners were cursed with the sudden financial windfall. But, is winning the lottery really a curse?

It is a fact some who are not use to having money cannot handle the sudden influx, but it is not likely these people have been cursed. What is more likely is they do not have the knowledge or expertise financially needed to mange such large sums of money. Because they did not surround themselves with people they could trust who has the knowledge and experience in dealing with money, they most likely squandered it.

Filing bankruptcy is in some ways similar. You can squander your opportunity for a fresh new start if you do not surround yourself with the experienced people you can trust who understand money management and bankruptcy laws.

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