The recent huge win by Mavis L. Wanczyk from Chicopee, Massachusetts of the $758,700,000 Power Ball prize was the largest single win for a ticket in any American lottery in history. Rather than receiving an annual payout over the next decades of that total amount, Wanczyk opted for a single lump-sum immediate payout of $480,500,936. This means she will receive the cashed-out amount of $336,350,655 after all the taxes are paid.
This is great news for the Wanczyk family. She immediately quit her job. After giving the required media interviews, she went to a safe, undisclosed place to avoid the onslaught of the media and other unwanted attention. The local police have kept vigilance over her modest home, by parking a police car in the driveway. Since the public announcement of the win, Wanczyk has not been seen at her old home, much to the chagrin of the media that swarmed the place like bees and any locals or other looking for a handout from the financial windfall.
A CNBC report reminds us that the path ahead for the Wanczyk family is fraught with dangers that were experienced by other lottery winners. Suddenly having more money than you know what to do with makes most people go a bit crazy. For those that take the lump-sum payment, there is a very high likelihood that they will go bankrupt within three to five years.
Besides every charlatan in the world wanting to cheat them out of their newly found money, they experience pressure from family members and friends and start spending lavishly until it mounts up so quickly that it goes well beyond their means to sustain it.
Researchers found that the initial happiness from winning the lottery wears off after the first year. Subsequently, the people are not happier or healthier and are subject to depression, divorce, and suicide at higher rates than normal. Other studies show that instead of getting people getting out of debt worries after they win the lottery, the exact opposite happens; they accumulate more debt than they can handle. This is the cause of the bankruptcies. If you buy a $50 million home and only put $10 million down, you still owe $40 million plus interest. That is the kind of things they do.
Jack Whittaker, who won the West Virginia lottery of $315 million in 2002, says publicly that he wishes that he tore the ticket up. After his win, he lost both his daughter and grand daughter to drug overdoses because of excessive partying. He was robbed at gunpoint of $545,000 because his win made him a target of criminals.
Even though you get a target on your back from strangers, the hardest part of winning the lottery is having to say “no” to friends and family when they request money. They have many ideas of what they should be entitled to receive and place enormous pressure on the winner to give them money.
We do hope that Mavis L. Wanczyk is an exception to this pattern, that she can keep a steady mind with a clear head, and that those around her do not drive her crazy.