There’s an idea that’s persisted for some time that winning a big prize in the state lottery is actually more curse than blessing. To make their case, those who take that position point to the seemingly-countless stories of previous winners who’ve ended up on severely hard times in spite of - or even because of - their “good fortune.
It does seem difficult to believe that anyone who wins millions upon millions of dollars would have any troubles whatsoever, and yet those people are out there. But are the problems that follow really rooted in the money? Or is there something else going on here?
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recounted the story of David Lee Edwards recently, a gentleman from Ashland, Kentucky who won $27 million in 2001…and had lost it all by 2006.
After claiming his prize, Edwards and his wife went out and spent all the money they had like it was going out of style. Just some of their lavish expenditures included a $1.9 million LearJet, three losing racehorses, two homes, and two businesses worth $4.5 million.
Edwards also spent lots of money on cars, buying dozens of them, including a Lamborghini Diablo for $200,000.
But losing all the dough isn’t even the worst of happened to Edwards. He and his wife contracted hepatitis through their drug use, and were arrested a number of times for various drug violations. Finally, in 2013, Edwards died in hospice care, alone and without any money.
So did the money do it to him?
Simply put, no. Money can do a lot…but it can’t change one’s essence.
Money is like alcohol that way. Excessive consumption of alcohol does not change who you are – it reveals who you really are, by causing you to let your guard down. A windfall of great wealth does something similar. If you had good judgment all along, a sudden influx of money will not magically change you into someone lacking common sense.
But if you have poor judgment to begin with? Now your poor judgment is on steroids.
What happened to David Lee Edwards is a shame, but it does not serve as a cautionary tale for lottery winners. Only for those people who, all along, have shown an unfortunate inability to get out of their own way.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large