By Heillie Santana, 11th Grade
From time to time, you might hear that someone on the news just won the lottery. You see their smiling face holding an oversized check of 1 million dollars. And you think to yourself, “I wish that would be me”. Well, as much as the fantasy of becoming a millionaire overnight might seem desirable, winning the lottery isn’t as great as it seems. It isn’t so much about going on vacations every other weekend and owning sports cars, but more so about losing friends, having roller coasters of emotions, and perhaps even death.
Sandra Hayes, a former child services worker who split up a $224 million fortune with a dozen co-workers back in 2006, says that she had to learn how to adapt to her new life after winning the lottery. “I had to endure the greed and the need that people have, trying to get you to release your money to them. That caused a lot of emotional pain. These are people who you’ve loved deep down, and they’re turning into vampires trying to suck the life out of me.” Unfortunately, Sandra isn’t wrong. Many other lottery winners in the past have had the same experiences or even worse.
Back in 1996, Jeffrey Damper and his wife won $20 million dollars in the lottery. He and his wife had used the money to buy houses for their family members, and they even opened up a gourmet popcorn business that performed quite well and provided jobs for his family. However, tragedy struck in July of 2005 when he visited his sister-in-law after she claimed she was having car troubles. Her boyfriend held Damper at gunpoint and the two kidnapped him and killed him. They were both convicted in 2006 where they received a life sentence for their crimes.
“I know a lot of people who won the lottery and are broke today,” said Hayes. “If you’re not disciplined, you will go broke. I don’t care how much money you have.” The single mother kept her job for another month before immediately using the money to pay off $100,000 in student loans and a $70,000 mortgage. She spent a week in Hawaii and bought a new Lexus. Today, she still shops at discount stores and lives on a fixed budget. Albeit, with a higher monthly allowance.
Hayes was smart with her money, but the same can’t be said for a lot of other lottery winners. Take two-time lottery winner, Evelyn Adams, for example. In the mid-’80s, Adams had won the lottery twice in the span of two years, having won a total of $5.4 million dollars. However, Adams was a heavy gambler and it didn’t take long for her to squander all of her money. Today, she lives in a trailer park and is flat-out broke.
Not long after Adams had won the lottery twice, Willie Hurt won $3.1 million dollars in the Michigan Lottery back in 1989. Cut to two years later and Hurt was divorced, with no custody over his children, charged with attempted murder, and a strong crack-cocaine addiction that ate away at his fortune.
So, when you come of age to buy your own lottery ticket, it might be best not to spend your dollar on a ticket. Who knows? It could cost your life to win.