Ugodre talks Figures: Avoiding ‘curses’ associated with lottery winning

Ebube Essien-Garricks, Winner, MTN Ultimate Promo


Do not immediately change your lifestyle when you are suddenly rich. That only attracts envy and jealousy. If you had a day job before wining a lottery, then you must remain in that job pending a final decision on what to do.

Have you ever thought of what you’d do if you win N1bn in a lottery? If you haven’t, then the stories below surely require that you must.

In 1996, a certain Jeffrey Dampier and his wife won $20m in a lottery and used the money to buy family houses and established a popcorn company. He employed members of his family in the thriving business. In 2005, Dampier went to visit his sister-in-law, Victoria Jackson and her boyfriend, Nathaniel who claimed they had problems with their car. The sister-in-law and boyfriend soon pulled out a gun and kidnapped Dampier and then killed him.

Evelyn Adams twice won a lottery. She made a total of $5.4m in 1985 and 1986 but she is now living in a trailer park and is broke.  She blew all of her money on gambling and on elaborate shopping sprees. “Everybody wanted my money. Everybody had their hand out. I wish I had the chance to do it all over again. I’d be much smarter about it now,” a pitiful Adams lamented

A minister, Billy Bob Harrell, won $31m in a lottery in 1997. Harrell bought a ranch, six mansions and new cars. Friends and family he hadn’t heard from in years hounded him for money and he was unable to ever say no. Billy and his wife divorced, he sunk into a deep depression and unable to cope with the stress from winning the lottery, he committed suicide.

Rosemary Obiakor from Lagos won over N3m in a national lottery. Rosemary later told reporters “I have heard a lot of stories about how people win lotteries and get broke. I am scared, and so I’ll give it to a lucky beggar on the street”. After cashing her cheque, Rosemary handed the money to a woman begging with a two-year-old child. The beggar, obviously delighted with the cash, gave other poor people on the street money before disappearing with a promise to open a food shop.

Lottery earnings are basically “free money” and without a clear-cut idea of what to do, it is very easy to loose all of it and end up with misfortune or probably give it all out. As proven over time, there is a thin line between fortune and misfortune when it comes to lottery.

The first thing a lottery winner must do is to ask the organisers of the lottery if he can remain anonymous as the prize winner. Most lottery organisers like to flaunt their prize winners to show participants that the lottery is real. But the risk is that when you are exposed as a lottery winner, you are vulnerable to undue and unforeseen pressures, which more often than not distract the winner from focusing on using the money expeditiously.

For those wary of exposure and can’t get them to grant your wish to remain anonymous, you may also consider using a blind trust once the money is disbursed to you. A blind trust simply means that you give power of attorney to competent financial managers who invest the money for you without you controlling what they do or what they invest in. As a beneficiary of the trust, they only give you returns periodically. This could also protect you from spouse related issues such as divorce settlements or claims from family members.

If you are an employee on a monthly salary, then don’t think that by winning a N100m lottery price you have suddenly become a financial guru. More money equals more problems, which is why rich people hardly manage their money themselves. You must immediately keep the lottery money in a fixed deposit or buy some government bonds even if it earns you single digit interest until you decide what to do with the money. Never carry cash around you. What you get from that is peace of mind; away from the financial burden managing such funds can carry.

Do not immediately change your lifestyle when you are suddenly rich. That only attracts envy and jealousy. If you had a day job before wining a lottery, then you must remain in that job pending a final decision on what to do. A sudden change of lifestyle that you are not used to is a recipe for extravagance as nothing is off limit when it comes to spending such money. If you think your car is not up to what you desire, upgrade it to a slightly higher level. You do not need to go from a Corolla to a Bentley.

If you are kind hearted and wish to give out some of your winnings, you may consider imploring your recipients to sign non-disclosure agreements precluding them from revealing how much you’ve given them. Most lottery winners who are investment savvy aren’t immune to the lottery curse. It can happen to anyone.


Read Ugo’s blog Here.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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