Free lunch has always been a seduction. Yet people hardly realize that there are always consequences to every action. This includes free lunch. Take for instance, in winning the lottery, the public sees only the 'winning' side, while ignoring the costs from such events.
The prolific self development author Robert Ringer explains
Here we go again, another centimillionaire via the Mega Millions lottery — $173.8 million after taxes. The winner was fifty-six-year-old Ira Curry, who bought her ticket at an Atlanta newsstand. A second winner, who bought his/her ticket at a gift shop in San Jose, California, had not yet come forward as of the time this article was being written.Let’s hope that Ms. Curry doesn’t follow in the footsteps of the vast majority of past mega-lottery winners, whose lives became totally unraveled as a result of their newfound wealth. In this regard, perhaps West Virginian Jack Whittaker is the poster man for past lottery winners.Back in 2002, Whittaker was the winner of $315 million in the Powerball multi-state lottery. Since he opted to take a one-time payout, Whittaker actually received “only” a little over $113 million after taxes.The first reality of sudden wealth that Whittaker was confronted with was an endless parade of people with requests for money. Some folks didn’t even bother to ask for a handout in person. They just sent letters — fifty thousand of them! — telling him they needed some of his green stuff as soon as possible.Whittaker forked over about $50 million before he came to his senses. But when he backed away from his role as year-round Santa Claus, the mooches became angry. A number of them even threatened him.When their threats failed, many of the good folks in West Virginia started suing Deep Pockets Whittaker for a variety of alleged torts. In fact, he’s counted about four hundred legal claims against him since he won the lottery.Confused and intensely unhappy, Whittaker began carousing, drinking, and propositioning young gals in strip clubs. His wife of forty-four years threw him out and, after giving away millions, he found himself with no friends.But there was one glowing light in his life — his beloved granddaughter, seventeen-year-old Brandi. Whittaker gave her four new cars and an allowance of $2,000 a week. It was a real-life Beverly Hillbillies saga, only played out in West Virginia instead of California.As one might have predicated, having that kind of cash in her pocket led Whittaker’s granddaughter to drugs. Soon after that, her boyfriend, Jesse Tribble, died of a drug overdose in Whittaker’s home in September 2003. Then, a little over a year later, Brandi, too, was found dead of an overdose.Since then, things have only gotten worse for Whittaker. Stating the obvious in a tearful 20/20interview, he said, “Money is not what makes people happy.” Of course, every half-sober, mature adult already knows that. But it’s important to understand that money also doesn’t automatically saddle a wealthy person with unhappiness.As popular as the aphorism may be, money is not “the root of all evil.” And, in fact, that’s not what the source of those words — the New Testament (Timothy, 6:10) — actually says. Rather, it states, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” (My emphasis.)
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This has not just been an isolated case, here is a list of 19 lottery winners who blew their winnings; some of them endured wrecked lives.
This just shows how free lunches distort on people’s incentives by magnifying on the winner’s short term priorities or the quest for short term or instant gratification. Such collapse in self-discipline results to money taking over their lives. As a result, such windfalls in many occasions have led to adverse outcomes.
And to think of it, in many countries governments endorse or even operate lotteries