No one had the winning ticket for yesterday’s draw of the Ultra Lotto 6/58 which has a jackpot of almost P195 million. And while the probability of winning that much money is very, very small, it will not stop millions of Filipinos from trying their luck.
Across the Pacific Ocean, there was also no winning ticket for the world record $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot last weekend, which now grew to $1.9 billion. No doubt Americans are also finding it hard to resist buying a ticket or more, and hoping against hope that they can become the big historic winner.
I must confess I’ve never bought a lottery ticket so these jackpot numbers don’t mean much to me. But what did interest me was the story of a Chinese man who just last month won the $30.6 million jackpot in a national lottery.
He showed up to claim his prize money in a bright yellow cartoon costume, understandably to maintain his privacy, but then he went on to say he is also keeping his new fortune a secret from his wife and child.
According to a report in Nanning Evening News, picked up by the South China Morning Post, the lottery winner was quoted as saying: “I have not told my wife or kid. I am concerned that they might feel superior to other people and will not work or study hard in the future.”
Do you agree with the mystery lottery winner, or not? His stand may be polarizing, but if you look at the countless stories of past lottery winners, it may help you better understand where he is coming from. Here are some hard-earned money lessons of jackpot winners around the world who lost their fortune and more.
#1 Say no to immediate lifestyle change
When Billie Bob Harrell Jr. won $30 million in 1997, he immediately quit his job at a local hardware store. He took his family on a grand vacation, bought houses for family and even friends, plus donated generously to his church and charities. What could go wrong? Well, he started getting a lot of unwanted attention demanding money, and worse, he made a bad deal with a company that provides lump sum payments to lotto winners. In the end, he got a lot less than he originally would have received. He and his wife also separated, and things got so bad that he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. According to newsfeed.time.com, before he died, he told his financial advisor, “Winning the lottery was the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
#2 Try not to announce your change in fortune
In 2022, Andrew Whittaker won the largest jackpot ever awarded to a single Powerball winner. Fortunately for him, he was already wealthy before he won, so there was no need for him to worry about lifestyle change. Unfortunately for him, his problems came from the fact that not all lottery organizers allow their winners to remain anonymous. In his case, they announced him as the big winner of US$315 million. What followed were requests from people he knew and even those he didn’t asking for money. Thieves would break into his cars, and people filed frivolous lawsuits hoping he would buy them off. More personal tragedies that are somehow rooted from his winnings followed: his granddaughter died, his daughter died, and then he got divorced. Speaking to ABCnews.com, he said: "Since I won the lottery, I think there is no control for greed. I think if you have something, there's always someone else that wants it. I wish I'd torn that ticket up."
#3 Winning won’t solve all your old problems
Luke Pittard was working at McDonald’s in 2006 when he learned he won a $1.9 million jackpot. You’d think that’s enough money to help him live a better life and solve a few of his old problems along the way. Sadly, he spent almost all of his winnings on a vacation, a house and a wedding. According to a BusinessInsider.com report, in just 18 months, the money ran out and he had to go back to flipping hamburgers at McDonald's.
"They all think I'm a bit mad but I tell them there's more to life than money," he told the Telegraph in 2008 when he had lost it all. "I loved working at McDonald's before I became a millionaire and I'm really enjoying being back there again." Not sure I believe him, but I do agree there is more to life than lotteries and jackpots.
#4 Winning can actually bring you new problems
When Denise Rossi won a $1.3 million jackpot, she immediately filed for divorce and kept her winning a secret. Her husband found out two years later, sued her and actually won. In an interview with People magazine, her lawyer said that Denise could have kept half her winnings if she had been honest with her then husband. "Her failure to disclose was a fraud.” What’s sad is that her husband is now enjoying $48,000-a-year pay-outs, and had this to say about her” "If it wasn't for the lotto, Denise and I would probably still be together. Things worked out for the best.”
#5 For richer and for poorer
Which brings us back to our mystery lottery winner from China. A lawyer interviewed by Jiupai news said he could be in violation of the Chinese Marriage Law by “infringing on his wife’s right to know.” After all the earlier “horror” stories, he is right to be concerned that winning will change their life. But he seems to be off to a good start. He made sure to pay his taxes (about US$700,000) and donated a quarter of his net winnings (US$6 million) to charity. That leaves him (and his wife and child when they find out) some US$24 million.
When asked what he would do with the money, he said he hasn’t decided, “and I will take some time to plan how to use the money.” His calm and collected approach may serve him well, and let’s hope he also remembers that the lottery money is a joint asset he must share with his wife. He will need to include her in his plans, or risk the same fate as Denise.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.