What to do when you win a life-changing jackpot?

Most casino players gamble because they love the thrill to win. And prices generally don’t come bigger than jackpots! Hence, jackpot games are super popular!

Do you know that many players opt out of any welcome bonus because when they win big, they don’t want to be restricted to extra bonus terms and conditions?

And what if you suddenly do win that massive jackpot? What are you going to do with a six, seven, or even eight-figure sum? It is a great dinner table topic! Would you radically change your life or continue doing what you always do, with some small alterations?

To give you something to think about before you actually win big at Slothino we have dived into a variety of material available on the subject. From elaborate studies to examples of how to or how not to spend the prize money. Hopefully, you can learn something to prepare you for the moment when massive prizes start coming your way.

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Does winning the lottery make you happy?

One of the main questions winners and prospective winners of jackpots have is if it will make them happy. While the answer to this question will obviously differ from person to person, the general consensus is that winning big prizes does not necessarily make you happier.

This is mostly due to the so-called hedonic adaptation or hedonic treadmill theory. This theory is based on the fact that people get used to situations and materials rather quickly. For example, the thrill of buying your first car can barely be replicated when you are a billionaire buying your 101st automobile.

Most people have a steady emotional state which hovers around a baseline for most of their lives. This can come with highs and lows but in both cases the majority of people will revert to this baseline of happiness. The downside is that you quickly adapt to a new and better financial state, but the upside of this hedonic adaptation is that you will also bounce back from negative experiences or situations.

In a study of 22 lottery winners, researchers found that their reported levels of happiness were the same as a control group of 22 random individuals. Later studies showed furthermore that the intensity of emotions does not improve when wealth increases. In short: you can be equally happy with your second hand bicycle as with a brand new sports car.

Give to charity and do something charitable

Some of the same studies found that this all changes when you spend money on experiences instead of things. The hedonistic adaptation applies to material and not social examples. This means you can absolutely improve your overall happiness when you start sharing your money with other people and start spending it on things to do (with others) and stop spending it on things to have.

In a study involving 200.000 people from 136 countries researchers found that in 90% of the countries people who donated tended to be happier. A downside to this is that there needs to be money available to donate, so a base level of wealth does indeed make you happier.

In line with these findings, it can be good to share some of the newly found wealth with organizations helping people or animals in need. For us, this would, of course, mean some sizable donations to the sanctuaries and foundations taking care of sloths in Costa Rica and South America!

Social difficulties when winning big

While sharing your prize money can give you more happiness, a lot of big winners find it difficult to manage social situations, with for example friends and family, after they have become wealthy overnight.

Socially difficulties can come from long lost friends suddenly popping up to ‘share’ in your luck, while it can also be tricky to give away your money to family and treat everybody the same. It’s recommended to adapt a strategy in advance when winning big. Some winners have been known to keep their profit silent and only enjoy it with a select group of close ones.

Tragic winners of big prizes

Winning big is the dream of many gamblers. While many lucky people have lived long and fulfilling lives after hitting the jackpot there are some examples of tragic winners.

William Post III

William Post III was getting by on disability payments when he won a massive 16,2 million dollar jackpot. This seems like the start of a great story, but the opposite is true. The American couldn’t control his urges and almost instantly spent more than his first annual payment, buying for instance:

  • Used-car lots
  • A restaurant
  • And even a plane

He managed to build up a debt. The story gets sadder every year, with his brother planning to murder William and him divorcing five times. He died at the age of 66.

Jeffrey Dampier

Dampier won $20 million in the Illinois Lottery. He used his money wisely and started a business instead of blowing it all in a couple of months. His luck turned when envious family members entered the picture. His former sister-in-law decided to rob him with her new boyfriend. This robbery went horribly wrong and the sister-in-law ended up shooting Dampier. He did not survive the incident.

Urooj Khan

As an addicted player of lottery games Urooj Khan decided to stop his habit. This proved harder than he thought, but one of his last tickets was the winning one. Mr. Khan won a million dollars but did not get the opportunity to enjoy this jackpot. He was found dead before he could even cash-in his prize.

While this seemed a natural death at first, a second autopsy found cyanide poisoning to be the cause of death. His wife later tried to cash in the check and while the case has not been cleared up it is believed the last curry she made for her husband was ‘extra spicy’.

What to do when you hit the jackpot

In need of a handy checklist for when you hit it big? Remember these points:

  • Pay off debts first
  • Avoid big and impulsive purchases
  • Only invest if experts think it is wise
  • Remember to be kind. Charities and charitable!
  • Trust experts and professionals who can help you manage large sums

Avoid these pitfalls

What not to do?

  • Shout it from the rooftops the minute you have won: this might attract unwanted visitors
  • Buy whatever you want and pay no mind to what you are spending
  • Make instant and impulsive decisions
  • Forget your friends and family

Bonus, watch this and dive deeper

Above video gives some great food for thought. You can dive deeper on TEDed

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