Poor Man Wins Lottery – Will it Help or Hurt Him?

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The following is a short article from The Hamilton Spectator on Saturday, June 6, 2009.

A 23-year-old rancher whose family has fallen behind in its taxes and recently had a mobile home repossessed, claimed a $232.1 million Powerball jackpot yesterday, one of the largest single jackpot in the U.S. lottery history … He will take home $88.5 in a lump sum payment after taxes are deducted.  … “I want to thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity and blessing me with the great fortune.  I will not squander it,” he said.  Wanless [the lottery winner] said he intends to use the money to help those in need.  “My family has been helped by the community and I intend to repay that help many times over.”

The Poor and Lottery Tickets: My Reactions

  1. Why is someone who has fallen behind on taxes and recently lost a mobile home buying lottery tickets? Unfortunately, this is not unusual.  See Poor, unemployed buying hope in lottery tickets? The poor see this as the only way out of their predicament.  Perhaps they think one in a million is a better chance than their perceived zero in a million opportunity.
  2. How many people really play the lottery with the hopes of winning it big? In this MSN article it is reported that 40% of Americans with a salary between $25,000 and $35,000 and 50% with incomes between $15,000 and $25,000 thought winning the lottery would give them their retirement nest egg.  Who Plays Lotteries says 57% of Americans have purchased a lottery ticket in the last 12 months.
  3. Of the $232 million, 143.6 million goes towards taxes.  Ouch!
  4. While I hope Wanless keeps his promise that he will not squander it, statistics speak against his chances to successfully fulfill his promises.  Here is another MSN Money article that introduces us to 8 lottery winners who lost their millions.

Photo by pedrosimoes7.

The Bible on Lottery and Gambling

Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. (Proverbs 13:11, NIV)

Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. (Matthew 25:28-29, NIV)

When one acquires money slowly they simultaneously learn how to properly manage what they have.  Those lessons learned allow them to better oversee what they have been entrusted with.  This typically leads to an increase.  When one receives a surge of money in a different way (lottery) they have often not learned the financial management skills necessary.  The unfortunate result is often a return to ones previous financial condition.

Mr. Wanless, I wish you all the best.  Want an unsolicited suggestion?  Put the money in the bank for one year and surround yourself with people who have money management skills.  Otherwise, there are likely more repossessions in your future.

Yesterday I answered the question, is money the solution to poverty?  I think this post supports those conclusions.


  1. says

    I enjoyed this post, particularly since it was backed up with statistics. One note about your reactions, $143.6 didn’t go to taxes. Lotteries typically offer the full jackpot (in this case $232.1 million) if you take the payments over a longer term like 20 years. They invest your winnings into an annuity so that you get the full jackpot amount over that time period. If you instead opt for a one time, lump sum payment (like this man did), you’ll typically get about half the jackpot amount. So he probably won $116 million and paid $28 million in taxes. Still a lot, but not nearly the amount stated in your results.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Joining an Investment Club =-.

    • Craig says

      Thanks for your comment! I have heard that but failed to mentioned it specifically. I’m glad you made a note about it. I guess if I just played the lottery more often I would know all this!

  2. says

    Great post! I blogged on this a few weeks ago too. I think the reason why so many people squander the lottery winnings is because God didn’t design money to give us ultimate joy.

    When people fall into a large sum of money and after the initial happiness wears off, they realize they have more problems, more worries and more anxiety.

    God designed us to find Jesus as the ultimate treasure.

    .-= JT@RedeemingRiches´s last blog ..The ABC’s of Credit Scores – 5 Tips to Improve Your Mark =-.

    • Craig says

      I was just in a store today someone was talking about the lottery and said, “I really only need a million anyway.”
      When will people stop thinking money is the solution to their problems? Perhaps this is a reminder that many people are seeking joy, but are just looking in the wrong place. I pray we can show them the true treasure.
      Thanks for your comment!

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