The US Powerball is flying high once again in terms of the sheer size of the jackpot on offer to its players. The world's most popular lottery game is causing a frenzied feeling of excitement from all over the world as the current grand prize stands proudly at €53.5 million (£46.5 million). It is important, however, not to get too caught up in the high life if you do find yourself to be one of the lucky winners.
It's all too easy to fall into the trap of the many who have fallen in the past after their big win. But why do ordinarily hard-working people completely lose their grasp on reality once they've had a sudden cash injection? According to a collaborated published study by the University of Kentucky, Vanderbilt University Law School and the University of Pittsburgh, lottery winners, in general, tend to declare bankruptcy at nearly twice the rate of the working population.
What has become apparent through the studies is that a sudden increase in money, especially if it has come easily, is just as easy to squander if there is no sense that the winner has earned it by the sweat of their brow. In that regard, if you find a $100 in one of your jeans pocket, it's much easier to spend it on something that you may never have spent it on had you felt that you'd earned it. Although research indicates that many lottery winners are not financially savvy and lack that education that the upper middle class teach their children, it doesn't take a study to figure that out.
Amanda Clayton was single and out of a job when she won $1 million in a lottery during 2011. Unfortunately for her, this would turn out to be yet another case where the money came too easily to her as it was not "earned." At the time, she was living on public assistance, a benefit afforded to those who need it most. Rather shamefully, she did not concede her benefits once she cashed in on her lottery prize. Then in March 2012, a viewer tipped a television station off as to her situation.
Clayton was filmed paying for needless snacks with her public assistance card and then for the moving truck which would transport her possessions to her brand new home. When she was questioned by a reporter, she joked that she was technically still unemployed and that she still had bills to pay. "I have two houses" to pay off. Understandably, this caused the public to lash out at her.
The state attorney general of Michigan charged Amanda with welfare fraud. She pled no contest and was ordered to pay every penny back from the time of her win. She died one year later from a drug overdose.