On 29 November 2012, Cindy and Mark Hill from the state of Missouri in the USA won half of a record $587.5 million Powerball lottery jackpot. "I think we'll have a good Christmas," said Cindy at a news conference. They plan to stay put in their rural community, but know their lives will be changed forever.
While we may dream of being very rich, winning the lottery can have its pitfalls. Distant relatives and fair-weather friends can come begging for their share; spouse can turn on spouse; kidnapping and murder can suddenly become very real threats. Sometimes, the greatest danger to the newly well-off can be themselves.
One of Britain’s most celebrated lottery winners, Michael Carroll has blown the £9.7 million jackpot he won in 2002 and is currently hoping to get his old job back as a refuse collector. At first, Carroll lavished gifts on friends and family, but soon started spending on cocaine, parties, cars, and, at one point, up to four prostitutes a day.
"The party has ended," he recently told the Daily Mail, "and it's back to reality. That's the way I like it. I find it easier to live off £42 dole than a million." It's not that rare for a cash windfall to cause such haplessness.
The USA’s National Endowment for Financial Education advises those who gain large amounts of cash, whether from lottery winnings, divorce settlements, or family inheritances, to put emotional as well as financial strategies in place. It estimates that as many as 70 percent of people who land sudden windfalls lose all the money within seven years.
Others cope well with their new found riches, living quietly and modestly using their wealth to bring hope to individuals and communities.
Colin and Christine Weir from Largs in Scotland won a record breaking £161 million Euro-millions jackpot in 2011. So far they have given away substantial sums to good causes.
The Bible has a lot to say about wealth. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is recorded as saying:
‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’.
Profound words. What matters in the long run is where your heart is, not the size of your bank balance. Indeed real peace only comes from a relationship with Jesus. That’s something that money can’t buy !!