The Not-So-Big Winner: The Unfortunate Ways Winning the Lottery Does More Harm Than Good

Friends lottery tickets episode

The group from Friends was probably better off not winning. | NBC

“Let’s play the odds — what is there to lose?” you say as you fork over two bucks for a chance at a hundred million dollars. The answer? A whole lot.

What many see as a low-risk investment, others find a complete waste of time and money. Winning the lottery seems like the long-awaited answer to your prayers — and a solution to your crippling debt — but the grass is always green over there in millionaire land.

Those lucky enough to hit the jackpot are faced with a mound of problems most average Americans wish to avoid. From heightened depression to scams to murder, here are 15 ways winning the lottery could do more harm than good.

1. A greater chance of bankruptcy for you — and your neighbors

Many lottery winners never would believe bankruptcy is in their immediately futures as they’re waving their oversized check through the air for all to see. But about 70% of people who win a lottery end up broke shortly thereafter, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education.

Even if you manage to keep yourself from harm, there’s no guarantee for your neighbors. A 2016 study found those living next to lottery winners are significantly more likely to declare bankruptcy due to a ripple effect. A winner’s lifestyle upgrades might tempt neighbors into spending in the same frivolous manner, regardless of their means to do so.

Next: You don’t actually take home anywhere near the advertised payout.

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