CON: Winning the lottery isn’t really winning

 The Powerball jackpot of a record $1.5 billion was awarded on Wednesday to three lucky winners — one in California, Florida and Tennessee. 

Certainly, there are many benefits and drawbacks to being the winner of the Powerball jackpot. The obvious benefit is that one would gain a massive amount of money to spend in a number of ways, including donating to charities, giving to friends and relatives and using it on a nice summer vacation in Hawaii. However, since the odds of winning are so unlikely, some are beginning to question whether or not it is worth it to even buy a ticket.

The debate is entirely reliant on if the winner can manage the money wisely and cope with the stress that comes with dealing with the people who would like a share of the funds. 

When asked on the Today Show his reaction to winning the Powerball, John Robinson, the Tennessee winner, stated, “Now I’ll be nervous because everybody knows.”

Living a life of luxury is unarguably something to strive for, but we must ask if it is worth the publicity and stress this winner now has to deal with as a result of buying that ticket.

The best way to counter this problem if you are the winner, according to Forbes, is to develop a financial plan that includes paying off all debts, investing a portion of the money, working with a team of legal and financial advisers and remaining anonymous, if legally possible.

There are arguments, however, that winning the lottery motivates people to make poor life choices.

A study of Florida lottery winners showed approximately 1 percent of players in Florida go bankrupt every year, which is about twice the average for the general population. Additionally, there have been multiple cases in which lottery winners make poor decisions as a result of their sudden wealth. 

One such case involved Jack Whittaker, a West Virginia man, who won the $315 million Powerball jackpot in 2002. He recklessly left a briefcase with $545,000 in his car in a strip club parking lot that ended up stolen. He was also sued by a casino for having bounced $1.5 million in checks, and was charged with drunk driving after reporting that $100,000 left in his passenger seat was stolen.

Whittaker ended up broke in 2007, and told reporters, “I wish I’d torn that ticket up.”

The probability of winning any lottery is slim, and the Powerball is no exception.  Unarguably, the best thing you can do if you are lucky enough to win is manage the money wisely.

Knowing who to donate to, as well as how to best distribute the funds, is an ethical dilemma all winners will face. The overwhelming stress of managing that much money sometimes makes us wonder if it is worthwhile.

So was it worth it to buy a ticket? Given the odds and consequences associated with winning, probably not. 


Matthew Salway is a junior majoring in biology.