Not so lucky?

money frown faceLast Friday the Schenectady County DA offered William Rivenburgh a plea deal -- two years in prison -- on drug charges. It's not really a notable story except for the fact that only three years ago Rivenburgh and his wife won a million dollars from a scratch-off lottery ticket. Now, they're broke and accused of selling cocaine.

It's quite a contrast from November 2006. From a TU story at the time:

It's not the kind of windfall he can retire on. But it's just enough to take the pressure off. Besides home repairs and bill payments, he will invest some of his winnings in stable accounts. It will be a good supplement to his annual salary, which is about $50,000, depending on how much overtime he picks up.

As it happens, the Rivenburghs' story is just the latest in a long line of lottery winner woe.

The web is full stories about people winning the lottery and going broke. A guy who won $315 million in a 2002 Powerball lottery told ABC News a few years back that he felt like the score had cursed his family and "I wish I'd torn that ticket up." (ABC didn't say whether the man had played 4 8 15 16 23 42.)

Research on the subject has found that people don't necessarily end up that much better off after a win. A study from the 1970s found that lottery winners weren't any happier than a control group (money can buy many things, happiness might not be one of them). And a recent working paper based on data about Florida lottery winners reported that a lotto score often just helps a person headed for bankruptcy postpone going broke -- not prevent it.

But a 1987 study of 576 winners found "overall, winners were well-adjusted, secure and generally happy from the experience." A study published in 2005 found that Britons who won moderate amounts (up to $200k) did "go on eventually to exhibit significantly better psychological health."

Comments

If anybody reading this ever has the misfortune of winning, I'll shoulder the burden of the cash for you.

I love the LOST reference! Huge fan.

I can see how winning the lottery would be more of a curse than a blessing. Picture this - you've been dirt poor all your life, then all of the sudden you've got tons of money. You have no idea how to control yourself. You can do just about anything you want. So, you start pissing it away on anything and everything, and next thing you know, you're flat broke. I can totally understand how it happens.

I think a lot of it is poor financial planning/execution. It can be hard to say no to family and friends that ask you for a little bit of cash, since you figure "Well, I did just get all of this for free..."

Personally, if I were ever to hit it big, I'd be off to a planner and pocketing it away to collect some nice dividends somewhere so I'd know it was somewhere, but not really have it at my immediate disposal. Then again, I don't really play the lottery, so I'd probably have to start...

@Albany Jane: Your comment reminded me of a guy who won $85 million a few years back -- he seemed to have the right approach:

http://money.cnn.com/2007/02/20/magazines/fortune/lottery_winnings.fortune/index.htm

4 8 15 16 23 42

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

Pick-your-own blueberry season 2015

We are into the thick of blueberry season around the greater Capital Region. And as we've mentioned before, blueberries are just about our favorite pick-your-own... (more)

Massry Center 2015-2016 season

The schedule for the upcoming 2015-206 season at the Massry Center at the College of Saint Rose is out. The slate includes a ukulele virtuoso,... (more)

"That pile of snow is like a glacier"

Noted: There is still snow in Buffalo left over from last November's huge snow storm. [WGRZ]... (more)

Where to rent a boat on Lake George?

Sean emails: I've got some friends coming into town and we thought it would be a blast to head up to Lake George and rent... (more)

What's up in the Neighborhood

Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: Track season, Tanpopo, Chester's, Siro's, sushi cake, birthday cake, the ValleyCats,... (more)

Recent Comments

The state of our roads makes it too dangerous for me to want to use my bike to go to work. It's scary enough to walk/jog around town and have people fly through stop signs/lights when I'm using intersections... and on a bike it's that much worse if you attempt to bike legally in the street. This would be a great start to making our community more safe in general. We have to start somewhere.

Three thoughts about the push for protected bike lanes in Albany

...has 23 comments, most recently from blj

Where to rent a boat on Lake George?

...has 2 comments, most recently from Sean

Suggestions for a meal delivery service?

...has 5 comments, most recently from Jennifer

Checking out Huck Finn's Playland

...has 17 comments, most recently from Joanne Hinman

New York State set to raise fast food minimum wage to $15 per hour

...has 27 comments, most recently from jimmy