Winning the Powerball is an awesome bank balance boost. But, what does it do for your overall happiness and well-being?
Not a whole lot.
Buying a lottery ticket may not be the most financially rational decision you make, but, winning a chunk of cash would make you super happy, surely?
It’s not as straightforward as that.
There’s quite a bit of research out there on the psychology of winning a lottery. Studies show that people are most tempted to purchase tickets because they simply cannot process how unlikely a win might be.
Further research suggests that the yearning to play is stronger amongst those of us with lower incomes who dream of escaping a life of never-ending expenses.
But, here’s the most interesting finding; winning the Powerball does not make you happier in the long run.
Contrary to common belief, it doesn’t even make people more likely to head off on shopping sprees that leave them miserable and broke, either.
In fact, many winners report ending up just as happy as they were before their windfall.
Take the story of Powerball winner, Richard Lustig. A former professional drummer, Lustig banked an impressive $842,000 payout playing the Mega Money lottery. He also won $90,000 in 2012. The 60-something man from Florida is actually a seven-time lottery winner.
Lustig reportedly says he likes being rich more than he likes being poor. He lives in a big house, drives fancy cars and lives it up on luxury holidays.
Yet, Lustig is a rare exception. He has been rich for so long it’s safe to say he is just as happy now as before he started hitting those jackpots.
One well-reported 1978 study compared 22 lottery winners with the same amount of people who didn’t win anything, and 29 people who were severely paralysed in accidents.
Overall, the lottery winners were certainly happier than those with injuries or paraplegia. However, it was the lottery winners who reported getting very little enjoyment from what researchers dubbed “mundane pleasures,” referring to enjoyable everyday things like spending time with a loved one.
It certainly surprised researchers that the jackpot winners didn’t report being a great deal happier than non-winners.
The result? Winning the lottery didn’t increase happiness as much as we would think!
Jack Whittaker is the perfect example. In fact, he wishes he’d torn up his ticket.
Whittaker was already a millionaire when he won a 2002 West Virginia lottery jackpot of $315 million. President of a construction company, Whittaker claims he went broke just four years after his win and lost both his daughter and granddaughter to overdoses that he blames on winning the Powerball.
According to Whittaker and his wife, it is the money that led to their loved one’s death and they wish they had torn up the ticket.
Down on his luck, Whittaker was also robbed of just over $500,000 while sitting in his car at a strip club not long after his lottery win. Whittaker told press after the incident that he didn’t like the man he had become.
There’s also the story of Sandra Hayes. Hayes won the 2006 Missouri lottery and split a $224 million Powerball win with dozens of her coworkers.
Now a retired social worker, Hayes penned a book titled, How Winning the Lottery Changed My Life.
Hayes told the press that she had to adapt to a new life after winning the Powerball, and this new life drastically changes how she saw her friends and family. In fact, she went through people being greedy and needy, trying to get their hands on her money. The greed caused a great deal of emotional pain for Hayes, claiming her closes friends and family turned into money-sucking vampires.
The research is there, the stories are out, but you could still be happier with a Powerball win, right?
Well, it’s what you make of it.
Provided you are financially responsible and have the backing of an experienced financial advisor, we think you could, indeed, be happier with a jackpot.
It all comes down to responsibility and level-headedness, we’d say!