Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another millionaire lottery-winner dies broke and broken: WUWD?

A married couple in Florida wins a $13 million Lotto prize. Sounds happy.

Eighteen years later, everything's broken: their marriage, their family, their finances, his health. And then he dies awaiting trial for tax fraud.

This story is so common, yet none the sadder for it. One hears so often of the miserable lives lottery-type winners lead. One wonders:
  1. Are the reports accurate, or “massaged”? (Not that the media would ever knowingly inaccurately report anyth-- oh, wait. They totally would do that.)
  2. If the reports are accurate, what’s the deal?
  3. Is the problem that the personality-type that will look to “quick wins” (rather than hard work and planning), and thus will obsessively play such games, is also the type that will unerringly mismanage the money?
  4. Or is it simply that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil (1 Timothy 6:10), and that the profit-factor for gaining the world and losing one’s soul (Mark 8:36) is unaffected by inflation?
  5. Against #4, however, there are rich and godly people (1 Timothy 6:17-18) — though the Bible repeatedly warns that it is difficult (Luke 18:25).
  6. Perhaps this then falls into the category of Proverbs 20:21 — "An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end"?
You don't have to take the position that any kind of gambling is inherently and always wrong to see that — to say the least! — quick windfalls do not bring happiness. Plus, as one of the commenters on this thread well says:
...those who play consistantly are just simply very bad at math. And winning the lottery doesn’t magically grant them good math skills. Thus, they don’t realize that even the mega-wealthy have to live within their means.
Hard not to recall Jesus' words: "So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:21).

PS — WUWD = What Up Wid Dat? Not trying to be faux-cool; just didn't want the worlds longest post headline.


Trinian said...

Yeah, probably "massaged" for the sake of a really good sour grapes story for the middle class - but I'm betting they didn't have to go far.

What so many who win the lottery don't seem to understand is exactly how far $13 million goes. We have this idea of once you win the lottery, you're set - you can do whatever you want and you never have to worry about money again. You're secure for life! (Matt. 6:19)
Moreover, this story is a really good "real-world" example of how Ecclesiastes 5:10 (He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver, nor he who loves abundance with increase. This also is vanity.) works in detail. So they win $13 million, and they decide that they want the whole bit so they get it in payments over 20 years. Turns out, that's not good enough. Just 3 years ($1.95 mill minus half for the gov'ment) later they want more NOW and sell the remaining $11 mill for $3.08 mill! But that's not enough either, so they have to try to hide all of it from the government.
Never satisfied, consuming themselves, targeted by all those around them, and but for the Grace of God I'd be right there with them. Please God don't make me rich or poor.

Dan B. said...

Someone once told me that if you're not enough without money (property or even abundance in general), you'll never be enough with it.

Piper said it right that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him--if our anchor isn't in God, it's just $13 million dollars more to use filling our own desires which ultimately leave us empty, broken and despondent.