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

TOP2014: RD1: Mario's vs. Marino's

The 2014 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Keeler Mini -- the Tournament of Pizza to end all Tournaments of Pizza -- rolls along with a... (more)

"My boots were soaked, and the air reeked of overripe apples. I felt as if I were bathing in the cider I'd come to drink."

Over NYT, an account of making the rounds during Cider Week in the Finger Lakes by Freda Moon -- really bizarre apples, typically closed orchards,... (more)

StoryCorps at State Museum

The StoryCorps oral history project will be at the State Museum October 10-12. The project is asking for submissions from people who'd like to record.... (more)

Grilled cheese at The Cheese Traveler

Ah, fall. How nice to see you again. I'm looking forward to fully enjoying you with cozy knit sweaters, marled wool socks, nights by the... (more)

Drawing: Cirque du Soleil at TU Center

Cirque du Soleil will be at TU Center Thursday-Sunday for a run of six performances of its show "Dralion." We have a pair of tickets... (more)

Recent Comments

The insane amount of lakes we have. When I left this area for a bit I was so confused that I couldn't just drive for 10-15 minutes and find a lake.

Drawing: A bag of items from the Honest Weight Local Harvest Festival

...has 152 comments, most recently from FyreGoddess

Drawing: Cirque du Soleil at TU Center

...has 39 comments, most recently from ethan

What to do with old chinaware?

...has 4 comments, most recently from Melanie

Tournament of Pizza 2014

...has 15 comments, most recently from Lilly

StoryCorps at State Museum

...has 1 comment, most recently from Harold