reactions to winning the lottery

Disappointing stories reveal what it’s really like to win the lottery

Becoming substantially wealthier thanks to a tiny piece of paper would make your life so much better, right?

In fact, recent research has suggested that lottery winners are more satisfied with life than those who lost the lottery and that this happiness is lasting, Business Insider previously reported.

But winning a lottery jackpot can also have some unwanted side effects.

Here’s what it’s really like to win the lottery.

Lottery players everywhere dream of hitting the jackpot: in fact, the idea of striking it rich is enticing enough for the average American to spend $207 a year on lottery tickets.

In reality, though, your chance of winning is pretty slim — you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than you do of winning a Mega Millions or Powerball contest.

But eventually, someone — or some people — will win.

Winning is understandably a life-changing moment that can cause stress or excitement, which can lead to rash decisions. But there are a bunch of precautions to take before you even turn in your ticket.

Robert Pagliarini, a financial adviser, told Business Insider that taking “a very deep breath” should be the first thing you do if you win a large jackpot, followed by hiring an attorney, a tax specialist, and a financial adviser. “This financial dream team can help you make smart financial decisions and help you plan for the future,” Pagliarini said.

For example, they can help you decide whether you want to receive payouts over a certain number of years, or collect the prize up front as a lump sum, which is considerably lower than the official jackpot amount.

Another thing to remember is that the jackpot’s dollar amount and what you will actually pocket are two very different numbers, because lottery prize money is taxed — the IRS will collect 24% of it. For example, if you scored a $900 million Mega Millions jackpot, you’d have to give $216 million to Uncle Sam.

Andrew Jackson Whittaker in West Virginia won a $315 million lottery in 2002, but he actually walked away with $114 million after taxes.

And even when you do win in a draw, sometimes others do as well — meaning you have to split the prize. In September, 40 lottery players in New Zealand won a jackpot of 1 million New Zealand dollars (about $655,000). But since they were forced to split it 40 ways, each received only 25,000 New Zealand dollars (about $16,500).

Other winners have landed themselves in hot water for not splitting the jackpot with colleagues or friends who contributed to the winning ticket purchase.

A former construction worker, Americo Lopes, cashed in a $38.5 million lottery ticket in New Jersey without telling his coworkers who had pitched in to buy it. They took him to court, where Lopes was ordered to share the prize money.

Many lottery winners experience what Pagliarini calls “the honeymoon stage of sudden wealth.” He wrote in Forbes that winning such a large sum of money is an unsustainable high, and that winners should not let the prize money dictate how their lives change.

Avoiding feeling lost “involves exploring what they want their new lives to look like and creating a strategy that uses the money to help them achieve this,” Pagliarini said.

Another thing lottery winners should be aware of is people taking advantage of them. Lottery winners have to be prepared for mooching friends who want to benefit from their newfound wealth.

Sandra Hayes of Missouri split a $224 million Powerball prize with 11 people, but she soon found that certain acquaintances were more interested in her assets than her friendship. She said that when she dined out with her friends, they would belatedly announce that they didn’t have enough money to foot the bill.

“These are people who you’ve loved deep down, and they’re turning into vampires trying to suck the life out of me,” Hayes told The Associated Press.

Stacey Lowry of Oregon dealt with a similar issue. She won $5 million but moved to a different town after her entire neighborhood turned against her, she said. People she trusted began asking for money or gifts, which she refused, and started bashing her name, she said. “The town went crazy,” Lowry’s friend Melany Collins told TLC. “Lots of rumors.”

Your winning might also bring out the worst in family members too.

When Denise Rossi won a $1.3 million jackpot in 1996 she abruptly decided to divorce her husband without telling him about the prize money in order to keep it all to herself. Her plot backfired three years later, though, when a court ordered her to transfer every penny of her winnings to her ex-husband.

One Pennsylvania man, William Post, won $16.2 million in 1988, and was pursued by a hit man hired by his brother who hoped to inherit a share of the winnings.

When people know you have that much money, you’re also in greater danger of being robbed.

Whittaker, the West Virginia lottery winner, was sitting in his car one day when he was robbed of $545,000, he said.

With such a vast amount of credit available to them, winners sometimes opt to make purchases using credit rather than use cash and overspend.

Coming into a substantial amount of money can also mean being thrust into the spotlight — some states require you to publicly announce your winnings.

It’s likely you might never enjoy anonymity again — which is partly why Pagliarini suggests hiring a financial team to help with the flood of media attention.

And in addition to media attention, you might be bombarded with money requests from investors and scammers.

Whittaker spent at least $3 million fighting lawsuits, his attorney said. Whittaker told ABC News in 2007 that more than 400 legal claims had been made against him since he won the lottery five years earlier.

And some winners lose big time after hitting the jackpot, even faring worse than they did before.

One winner in Canada, Sharon Tirabassi, spent most of her $10 million jackpot on extravagant homes, cars, designer clothes, parties, vacations, and handouts to family and friends. Within a decade, she was riding the bus again to her part-time job and renting a house.

A Texas man, Billy Bob Harrell Jr., won a $31 million jackpot in 1997. He spent it on things like vacations, homes, and cars, but he also obliged too many money requests.He eventually squandered all his money.

Another winner, Michael Carroll, won a $15 million British jackpot in 2002, but lost it all within five years.

These things might have been prevented had winners taken better financial precautions.

Winning the lottery can certainly change your life for the better. But there are also unwanted side effects of hitting the jackpot.

Reactions to winning the lottery

You may think that everyone reacts the same when they find out that their lucky lottery numbers have finally popped out of the lotto machine, but the truth is, everyone reacts slightly differently. Whether it’s shock, tears, jumping, hugging… Who knows, you may attract a little luck yourself!


Sometimes you have to let the good news sink in and age, like a good wine, so that all the flavours can fully develop.

A woman in her forties found herself completely speechless when she realised she was the sole winner of a massive $35,000,000 Oz Powerball jackpot. She finally did manage to utter, “Wow! This is surreal!”

“I’ve never won anything before!” she said. “I still can’t believe this is happening.”

Sandra Donaldson was also left lost for words when she found out that she won $23 million in the Canadian Lotto 6/49. After almost a week of not telling her husband Robert (Bob) that they’d won $23 million in the Lotto 6/49 Jackpot, Sandra Donaldson let the cork pop. The reason she waited so long to tell her husband was because she was out of the country at the time of the win and she wanted to tell him the good news face to face. After hearing what his wife had to say, Bob too found himself speechless.

“I have good news and bad news. Good news — you can get a new car sooner than you think. Bad news — we have to go see our lawyer right away!’ Then she handed me the winning ticket — I was speechless!


At the time of the win, headlines about the latest massive US Powerball winner read as follows:

“Winner of $758 million US lottery Powerball says she plans to celebrate by hiding in bed”

Mavis Wanczyck, 53 who worked for the same medical centre in Massachusetts for 32 years, said, “I was leaving work at night. And my colleague Rob said I bet someone won with these numbers, as they could be birthdays.

“And I was reading them out, and I said ‘I’ve won!’

An Oz Lotto winner also found himself shocked to the core when he found out he was one of two Division 1 winners of the $40,000,000 Oz Lotto draw, winning $20,000,000.

When Lotto officials contacted him personally to inform him of his big win, he had trouble believing that it was actually happening. “I thought he was having a go!” he exclaimed. “I thought someone must have been joking.” It all became very real when he logged onto his Oz Lotteries account and checked his balance. “Usually I’d see $50 or $100, and then I saw all those zeroes. That’s when I started to shake! Very excited!”


Speaking about receiving a call informing you that you have won the lottery, a man from Enfield in Sydney’s inner West won $100,000 but did not believe it when he received a phone call.

In fact, he hung up several times when he received a call because he thought they were trying to sell him something.

“What are you selling me? Sorry, whatever it is I don’t want it.”

Thankfully they persisted and were finally able to quickly tell him about his win.

“You’re joking! You’re joking! Are you really serious? And I didn’t even answer your bloody calls! I’m sorry there are just too many advertising and marketing nuisance calls always trying to sell you something — I just never expected I’d get a phone call about winning money,” he said.

Have you ever thought about where you would be if you received a call from the Lottery informing you of a jackpot win? You may not necessarily be at your desk or on the couch in your living room.

Caught in the shower

Another lottery player from Melbourne heard his lottery numbers announced on TV while he was having a shower.

“They went – 11, 12, 18 – and I’m going, yep, yep, yep,” he said when asked to describe that moment. “At that point, I just dived out of the shower!” He said it was “such a weird feeling” that he thought he had “lost the plot.” He quickly checked the lottery results online which proved that he was $684,477.50 richer.

“I’m over the moon,” exclaimed the winner. He said that he had been playing the lottery for 30 years and that he never missed a draw.

Answer the phone call on the train

Another lottery winner who received a call informing him that he had won a fortune on the lottery, was sitting on the train when he received the call.

The voice on the other side of the line told him that he was the sole winner of the $10,000,000 Oz Lotto.

The winner’s 4-game Standard ticket was purchased from a local news agency and was the only one to match all 7 winning numbers from Tuesday’s draw. The shocked winner told lottery officials that he had made a split-second decision to play his favourite numbers and it paid off big time.

“I can’t think straight!” he exclaimed. “I am so surprised, I am off the planet, I’m tripping off the moon!”


Another Australian lottery player, who won $20,000,000 on the Oz Lotto, received a call from lottery officials informing him of his win.

His reaction? “This is ****ing awesome! This better not be a windup,” he said, “since I’m saying goodbye to the blokes at work now! I’m never coming back here!”

He was so ecstatic to hear that he had won such a huge amount of money on the Oz Lotto that he couldn’t believe his ears at first. “Is this real? This is unbelievable! Oh my goodness!”

It just goes to show, that hearing news that you’re lucky lottery numbers have finally hit the bullseye does cause a variety of reactions.

Piercing Scream

While men are more prone to swearing, the ladies are more likely to let out a piercing scream. A winner from Bateau Bay, let out a long ear-piercing scream before breaking down into tears of joy when she found out about her lotto win.

According to lottery officials, the usual response from female lotto winners is in fact, a high-pitched squeal.

This winner won 115 million Euros, you could too!

Imagine finding out you won €115 million while out with your friends? This is exactly what happened to Dolores McNamara from Ireland!

Play Mega Millions lottery online today and you could be the next big lottery winner!

You may think that everyone reacts the same when they find out that their lucky lottery numbers have finally popped out of the lotto machine, but the truth is, everyone reacts slightly differently. Whether it’s shock, tears, jumping, hugging… Who knows, you may attract a little luck yourself!