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It Could Be You

October 9, 2009

I often have fantasies about what I would do if I won the lottery. Not doing the lottery, however, is a bit of a handicap to realising those fantasies. Mind you, even if I did do it, I’d have a bigger chance of going to the Moon in a dishwasher.

I was watching a programme on ITV tonight called Winning the Lottery – Dream Or Nightmare. It’s a channel I usually avoid, but I was intrigued and if I was honest, I wanted to see if you could be happy with a sudden boost in income, or if this was going be the usual morality tale of money doesn’t make you happy blah, blah, blah. Well it was a bit of that: there was the tale of the 16-year old winner who went down the spiral of cocaine addiction, which was sobering and of course there’s Michael Carroll, better known as the Lottery Lout who gets wheeled out every time they need an illustration of what happens when money ends up in the wrong hands. They also did straw polls asking questions such as whether you think there should be smaller payouts to give more people a chance of winning and whether you would cash in a lottery ticket you found. Finally, there was the obligatory Psychologist who tried to explain the mental/spiritual side of the impact such a big win could have on people.

Two stories in that programme made me smile. The first one was a woman who won £7 million. She had a huge wedding and after that decided to use her money to set up orphanages and educational establishments in Ethiopia. She said that her work in Ethopia gave her an even better feeling than winning the lottery. The second one was a couple from Sheffield. I think they were of retirement age and lived a modest life with modest jobs before they got their big win. After they made sure their family was OK, they proceeded to donate most of their winnings over the course of a few years to hospitals, charities and in one memorable instance they took 200 inner city kids to a pantomime. They are well respected in their area and their attitude to life was lovely. They said that if they were to win again, they’d find more causes to give to.

Doing things purely for yourself and not thinking of others can leave you empty in the end and doing things purely for others without thinking of yourself can leave you burnt out and resentful. But doing things for yourself and others – now there’s a happy balance we can all achieve and we don’t need to win the lottery to do it.

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