Winning the Lottery – is it a Dream or a Nightmare?

The first UK lottery was in 1994 with a sum of nearly six million pounds. The winnings were shared by seven winners. The most money ever won by a single person was forty-two million pounds in 1996. Two lucky winners shared sixty-six million pounds just last year. It’s hard to fathom winning that much money at one time!

Winning a large sum of money in a lottery can be a dream come true – but to many who have chosen the winning number, it ends up being a nightmare.

The sad truth is that a high percentage of lottery winners end up broke within seven years. That may seem surprising, but many winners have said they wish they would never have won.

The Prize That Keeps on Giving

Not only do lottery winners have to be careful of random people coming out of the woodwork claiming they are family, but the world is full of scammers just waiting to win the trust of a lottery winner.

There are many horror stories about winners who have been fooled into giving their money to others. A number of lottery winners quickly spend their wins on cars and extravagant lifestyles. According to the New York Daily News, numerous lottery winners have even been killed because of their huge windfall.

There is good news

Of course, on the other side of the spectrum, there are plenty of lottery winners who have done great things with their prize money. If you are a lucky winner, you can pay off those nagging debts, help your family and friends as well as purchasing the things you have always wished for. Truly, winning the lottery can be a positive and life-changing event, depending on the way these huge amounts of money are used. Winning the lottery can be a wonderful prize that keeps on giving.

Look at the odds

According to the National Geographic, you are more likely to:

  • Be struck by lightning
  • Killed by a shark
  • Being injured by your toilet

The odds of winning some lotteries is 175 million to one.  But someone has to win – right? So, it may as well be you. And, you can’t win if you don’t play, so buying a lottery ticket every once in a while might just land you in the winner’s circle.

What would you do?

Plotting out what you would do with all that money can be a good way to fall asleep at night – but it is a different story and a difficult reality if you win.

For those of us who have not won a significant sum of money, it is difficult to imagine going bankrupt after what seemed to be such great luck. Sadly, it does happen – and it happens often. Having nothing to show just a few years after winning big is not unusual.

Staying anonymous

Luckily for UK winners, you can remain anonymous. Our U.S. friends are not so lucky. Only a handful of states allow winners to be un-named. In the UK, total anonymity is possible. Even the place where you bought the winning ticket is not revealed. As a UK player, you can opt for partial anonymity by allowing your occupation, age and location to be reported.

Many winners find it difficult to keep such good news under their hat. Winners have to decide if they want to open themselves up to potential scammers or to distant relatives asking for a slice of their new fortune.

Lottery winners and decisions

If you are a big lottery winner, you may have to decide how you want the money distributed. Some types of lotteries let you choose a daily, weekly, monthly or lump-sum distribution. If given the choice, most lottery winners prefer the one-time pay-out. Depending on who you ask, expert opinions on the best way to receive your winnings may differ.
Some financial professionals advise that such a large sum of money received at one time is dangerous and requires a lot of spending discipline. Taking the money in a weekly or monthly annuity. With a regular distribution, the lottery a prize that keeps on giving.

The bottom line is – if you win big by purchasing a few lottery tickets – take your time and think about how you can spend it wisely. For those of us who go to sleep thinking of what we will do with all of that money, we should be well prepared if we win.

Top Tips