The Lottery and My Privilege

The Powerball winnings reached 1.5 billion dollars on Wednesday, January 13 when someone from Chino Hills won.

That’s a lot of money for any of us. If that’s not a lot of money in your eyes, and you’re reading this piece of writing, can you please buy me a pair of tiffany blue Nike free run shoes? I’ve always wanted them – not for actual running, but just to wear around. They’re cute.

Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever buy a lottery ticket. I think about a specific page from my Sociology textbook all the time. I read it over and over, and even took a picture of it with my phone in case I ever needed to bring it up during conversation.

I’ll summarize. Patterns have been found amongst lottery winners. Winning is a shock. When Mary Sanderson won $66 million, she spent the following night crying and throwing up. Reporters attack winners for answers. Winners get phone calls from people they haven’t talked to in a long time – or even at all – that want money. Marriage proposals become more common. Kidnapping becomes a legitimate concern.

  • When Michael Klinebiel won $2 million, his mother claimed half of it was hers because the two often bought lottery tickets together. However, Michael had purchased the winning ticket alone. She sued her son.
  • Mark Metcalf won $34 million. His former wife filed a lawsuit, his other wife filed for divorce, and his new girlfriend “got $500,000 while she was drunk.” Metcalf “drunk himself to death” within three years.
  • After Abraham Shakespeare won $31 million, his body was found buried in a yard.

I think it’s safe to say that a page from a textbook scared me off lottery tickets for life.

I don’t understand why people care so much about being rich. I can say with confidence that there are several things I value more than it.

But maybe, I’ll never understand because I grew up with money.

I didn’t grow up poor, like, at all. Throughout my life, my parents have bought me everything I needed as well as things I didn’t necessarily need, but wanted. I’m pretty privileged.

Because money has always been a constant in my life, I haven’t given it as much thought as many others. When you don’t think about something a whole lot, it doesn’t matter very much to you. So, it makes perfect sense that the lottery doesn’t mean a lot to me.

Someone out there would probably read the bullet points from above and still want to win the lottery. They might be willing to undergo a lawsuit with a relative because it doesn’t compare to their hunger. Or,  it doesn’t matter to them that they might drink themselves to death because they’re on their way to doing that anyways as a result of the depression and stress being poor causes. Perhaps, being buried in a yard is preferred to spending a time in prison due to choosing to sell drugs in order to have some type of income.

I am immensely privileged. I’m going to try to be mindful of how privilege has colored my view of the world and take it into consideration when I notice that some people treat money differently than I do.




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