Lottery Philanthropy and the Generosity of Jackpot Winners

How kind (or unkind) can big jackpot winners be?
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Group of people wearing Volunteer t-shirts, standing outside next to a table with donation boxes on it
  • Author:
    William Monroe
  • Published:

Most people who win the lottery usually use the money to retire (early), create a better life for themselves and their family by buying a car or new house but still go to work, go on one - or many - vacations, or buy things that they've always wanted. But, interspersed amongst these lucky winners who spend the money on themselves are those who decide to keep only a small portion of their win - or none at all - and share the rest with those in need, such as family, friends, strangers, and others.

Those types of people who are lucky enough to win the lottery feel that their good fortune is a result of fate, and that the money won is warranted by that fate to be passed on to others to help better their lives. Or, they just have an affinity with spending the money on others rather than themselves.

Who/What Do Lottery Winners Give Their Money to?

Sometimes, the money is given to family or friends to help ease financial burdens, increase quality of life, pay for medical treatment or equipment, or provide a trust to take care of the recipient for the rest of their lives. At other times, the bestowment of the money is to enable a child or grandchild the opportunity to go to university or college - or expand their education some other way.

Winners may choose to give to charities with which they have a personal affiliation, or through the suggestions of their family and friends, or appeal to their moral character.

Some may give money directly to food banks or might buy a truckload of food and donate it. Others create or support homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Schools, libraries, and social agencies are sometimes welcome recipients of lottery winners through donations of money or goods. Groups that fight poverty through education and employment assistance also may sometimes become recipients of winners' generosity.

Winners may decide that they want to help out their community or beautify it by giving the money away to various churches, fire departments, and hospitals, or by building playgrounds, parks, and other nature areas.

There was even one story in which a couple used their winnings to build a water park to honor their parents. Other lottery winners feel that the best way to use their prize is to simply give it away anonymously, leaving envelopes of money in random strangers' and charity mailboxes. There have been instances of people leaving outrageously large tips for servers in restaurants and diners, and hotel and motel rooms.

But Why Do Winners Give So Much Away?

Many may find it a little odd that people who have bought a ticket with the hopes of winning the lottery, win it and then give most or all of it away.

But, these people are not in it for themselves. They are in it to be able to help out others in more need. They don't get excited about just winning the money. They get excited about seeing the reactions and faces of those who are lucky enough to be the benefactors of their generosity. Some of these people look at winning the lottery with the attitude that you can't miss what you never had.

There's no set way of spending a large lottery win and, within reason, you can do whatever you like with your profits. Some winners derive pleasure from helping others in the same way that others derive pleasure from buying a new house. As long as you make sure you're being sensible in your approach, the rest is really up to you.

Curious about what you could buy with a large lottery windfall? Be enlightened by our Buy List of $1 Million vs. $10 Million.

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