Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fools, Money, And Luck

I just read today that 70% of lottery winners go bankrupt within 5 years.


One guy, pictured above, lost everything after winning a $315 million Powerball jackpot.

I'll bet there's a good parable somewhere that addresses the *burden of instant wealth* or something.

Many of us, to varying, relative degrees, have also squandered windfalls throughout our lives. I remember when I was in college (1992-1995), working my tail off at several jobs, I suddenly was clearing over $200 a week. I had no idea what to do with my newfound *wealth* and couldn't even tell you where it ended up. Probably most of is was spent on food and alcohol. Basically, I was not prepared by my schooling or parenting to handle excess cash flow. Eventually, some years later, I did learn. But the lesson ended up quite expensive.

Now I would have expected to read that 70% of *pro athletes* or *performing artists* became broke soon after their fleeting glory - but I was a bit surprised by the high percentage of lottery winners who've given it all back. Perhaps the explanation is inherent in the type of people that regularly play the lottery? I don't suspect that guys like Warren Buffett, Michael Dell, Mark Cuban, Hank Paulson, or Suze Orman can be found every week ordering scratch tickets *by number* a la McDonald's extra-value meals.

In our self-centered, present-tense culture one might reflexively try to *characterize* the type of people who might be more inclined to blow a windfall fortune.

But a careful reading American history will illustrate that many, many famous AND accomplished people over the years lapsed into poverty before they died: Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Ulysses, S. Grant, et al.

And here's a longer list of notable bankruptcies.

Now I'm reminded of that great zinger from Gordon Gekko:

A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place...

See also:

Lotteries - Voluntary Taxation On Morons

On Wage Slavery


Funny Circus Bears said...

Comparing Lotto winners who blow their winnings to "Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Ulysses, S. Grant, et al." is just silly.

CaptiousNut said...

Reading White Fang to my son...

In the foreword I learned that author Jack London also went from poor, to millionaire, back to the poor-house.

Funny Circus Bears said...

Becoming rich and then poor during a lifetime pursuit of achievement does not = winning and wasting lotto bucks.