By the time you read this, someone could have already won one of the largest lotteries in history, or that famed top prize will have increased to the largest recorded jackpot ever.
While this huge windfall sounds great, is fun to talk about around the water cooler and can give you some fun dreams of a life of luxury, I am now going to give you some GREAT advice. Don’t buy a ticket. That’s right, don’t buy a single ticket.
Why? Let’s start with your odds. Your chances of a single ticket winning are 1 in 175.2 Million. That is so minutely small, you have a better chance of becoming President of the United States. As a matter of fact, let’s compare these odds with the probability of other significant things happening to you:
- Beating the house in Blackjack 1 in 2.2
- Being audited by the IRS 1 in 175
- Being born with 11 fingers or toes 1 in 500
- Dating a supermodel 1 in 88,000
- Dying in an airplane accident 1 in 354,319
- Being struck by lightning 1 in 700,000
- Becoming President of the USA 1 in 10,000,000
- Being killed by a mountain lion 1 in 32,000,000
- Winning the Powerball with one ticket 1 in 175,200,000
So as you can see, your odds of being attacked and killed by a mountain lion is greater than your chances of winning, so it is not worth the money.
Worse, I have heard stories of people robbing their saving and investments of thousands of dollars and buying as many tickets as possible. Again, not a good idea. Just think of how you will feel when you lose and realize how much money you spent, it could lead you (or your spouse) to some rash behavior that would be detrimental to your health.
So that is reason number one. The second reason to forgo that ticket purchase is that a significant number of people that have monetary windfalls end up in financial ruin. Take for example Nicolas Cage who in 2009 had several of his properties auctioned off by the IRS because he owed more than $6M of back taxes. Remember Cage was one of the highest paid actors and he ended up owing way more than he could pay.
Or what about Gary Busey? Last year at the age of 67, he declared bankruptcy with less than $50K of assets and more than $1M of debt.
Or MC Hammer who in 1990 brought in $33M after his Diamond-selling album ‘Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em’ was released. And then within six years, he found himself in bankruptcy court with $9.6M of assets compared to $13.7 of debt.
But what about other actual lottery winners?
Janite Lee, a wigmaker from North Korea who immigrated to St. Louis won $18M in 1993. She then donated significant amounts to building a church, even more to the Democrat National Committee and had several investments that went sour leaving her to file for bankruptcy in 1997, only four years later. Think about that, $18M and four years later, nothing!
Or West Virginian Jack Whittaker who won $315M Powerball on Christmas Day in 2002. He then proceeded to spend a fortune on alcohol and strip clubs. He also spent large sums of money for his 17 year old granddaughter, Brandi Bragg, who apparently began using crack cocaine. Within two years, Brandi was dead of an apparent overdose, Whittaker’s marriage fell apart and the bulk of his winnings were just a memory. Shortly after, he was quoted as saying, “I wish we had torn the ticket up.”
Devastating stories, but all factual. I am sure you, as I, remember our parents saying that, “Money is the root of all evil.” Sure sounds like it from these stories.
Finally, the third reason to forget about that lottery ticket is probably the oldest in the book. Money can’t buy you happiness. I have been in business for over two decades. In that time, I have seen plenty of unhappy multimillionaires. These have been some of the most dysfunctional families fraught with divorce, bitter law suits, estranged children and estranged parents. It really is sad. But the point of it all was that often it was the money that caused the issues. Conversely, those that did not have as much, were often happier.
So as you can see, you hold the key to your future. Take that two dollars you are about to spend and put it to better use. Don’t buy that ticket!
Good Luck, not in winning the lottery, but in having a wonderful life.