As we count down the hours to see if we won the biggest Powerball jackpot in history, we dream of what we’d do with $1.5 billion.
But a jackpot win does not always create happiness.
Countless lottery winners have ended up depressed, suicidal and broke.
Jack Whitaker, of West Virginia, was robbed at a strip club, and lost everything, including his grand daughter, who was murdered.
One woman’s house burned down, and she lost every penny.
A minister who won the lottery, couldn’t say no, and gave it all away, later committing suicide.
Winning any lottery comes with an adrenalin rush, complete euphoria, but it doesn’t last.
“After that, after things start to settle down a little bit, you’re faced with some life decisions and some things that’ll dramatically change your life so,” said clinical psychologist Dr. Tricia Bailey.
Friends, family and charities come out of the woodwork, asking for loans and their sudden warmth may seem phony. Others may be just the opposite – jealous and spiteful.
“There could be an undercurrent of resentment that takes place. You know, why does Joe get so lucky and look at us, we’re still struggling. So yes, there can be a lot of hostility and resentment that takes place,” said Dr. Bailey.
Dr. Bailey said if we were bad money managers to begin with, we won’t morph into financial geniuses overnight.
“How you functioned prior to winning the lottery is probably a pretty good indicator of how things are going to pan out for you,” explained Dr. Bailey. “So if you have not been financially responsible and making good decisions in your financial life, that’s probably not going to change a whole lot. And so we hear these horrible stories about people that have suddenly been blessed with this wealth, only to lose it all.”
We’ve all heard the standard advice for lottery winners, to get a financial advisor and a lawyer. But perhaps we should seek out one more professional as well, a mental health professional.
“Well I think that in many ways, that’s not a bad idea, and I’ll tell you why. This is a profound change in your life. So there are a lot of things that can be a big adjustment. Not just in terms of your bank account, but in terms of relationships and how to handle them,” said Dr. Bailey.
She urges winners to continue to do whatever gives them a sense of purpose, whether it’s going to work every day, or contributing to charity.
Ultimately, she ways, happiness comes from within.