Be Careful What You Wish For

Lottery Winners have wealth, fame, and success.  So why are they often so desperately unhappy? 

Have you ever come across a story which chronicles the lives of people who suddenly become rich? For example, someone who wins the lottery and becomes a millionaire overnight? Or how about someone who suddenly comes into a large inheritance?

What happens to these people once they are wealthy beyond their wildest dreams? In our society, we often associate happiness with material possessions, yet time and again, how many times do we read of the misery, the unhappiness, and the downright bizarre which happens to those who come into sudden wealth.

Lottery winners are perhaps the best examples of individuals who become overnight millionaires.  While many have benefited from their sudden wealth and gone on to live solid, productive lives, there are some glaring exceptions.  Reflect if you will on the following unfortunate lottery winners:

Consider Andrew Jackson Whittaker.  Until 2012, Whittaker was the single largest lottery winner in US history when in December, 2002, he won a $314.9 million dollar jackpot.  Robbed several times, including once for over $500,000, Whittaker started drinking heavily, wrote hot checks to Atlantic City casinos, and even had a granddaughter (whom he supported with a weekly $2,000 stipend) die of a drug overdose.  Hardly the circumstances Whittaker could have imagined when he won his huge jackpot.

Michael Scott Clifton

Other examples include:

(1) William “Bud” Post who won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania Lottery in 1988.  His own brother tried to hire a hit man to kill him for his inheritance, a former girlfriend successfully sued him for a share of his winnings, and ultimately, he was forced to file for bankruptcy.  Today he lives off food stamps and Social Security.

(2) Winning the $31 million Texas Lottery in 1997, Billie Bob Harrell Jr. committed suicide two years later.

(3) Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey Lottery not once but twice in 1985 and 1986.  Gambling and high living caused her to spend all of her winnings, and today, she lives in a trailer.

(4) Jeffery Dampier won $20 million in the Illinois Lottery in 1996.  Seven years later, he was kidnapped by his sister-in-law and her boyfriend who demanded money from him.  He was found in the back of a van dead after being shot through the head, and his sister-in-law and her boyfriend were charged with his murder.

Now these are extreme examples, but you cannot pass a magazine rack in the supermarket or a newspaper stand that doesn’t chronicle the dysfunctional and often, sad lives of numerous movie stars, celebrities, or otherwise famous and successful people.

By all accounts, they should be happy; they have wealth, fame, and success.  So why are they often so desperately unhappy?

These dichotomies are explored in my novel, The Treasure Hunt Club.  You see, I believe many times, our values are misplaced, and what we ought to place a high value on, we often take for granted.  Thomas Paine once said, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly”.

Those intangibles which make life worth living such as family, friends, love, and acceptance ought to take precedence in our lives.  But money, fame, and material possessions are routinely how we measure happiness and success.  So this begs the question; what value would you place on such things?

As the saying goes…be careful what you ask for.

Please click HERE to find The Treasure Hunt Club on Amazon.

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