Perks and Perils of Sharing a Lotto Win
On New Year’s Day, a British couple living in Northern Ireland received an incredible surprise. Patrick and Frances Connolly became the fourth largest lottery winners in the history of the United Kingdom, pocketing a jackpot worth £114, 969,775 in a EuroMillions draw.
Envious spectators were convinced that the couple would celebrate their new wealth with sports cars, glamorous vacations and expensive purchases – but surprisingly, they were disappointed. At one of the weirdest press conferences that have ever been held for lotto winners, the couple revealed that they would personally donate the bulk of their winnings to 50 of their friends and family members, and a few charities as well.
The Difficult Side of Generosity
According to the Connolly’s, their friends and family would become instant millionaires thanks to their decision. Frances Connolly is still planning to finish her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology too, regardless of the record-breaking jackpot. However, psychologists have ironically had some interesting comments to make about her circumstances and how they would have handled the situation themselves.
Local media has praised the duo for their generous decision, but some say that this could be naive. One concern could be that strong emotions may arise under these circumstances, perhaps driven by envy, in those who personally know the pair but were overlooked when it came to dishing out the cash.
Ms. Connolly was already agonizing at the press conference about who she would choose to become the recipient of millions of pounds in cash. She has admitted to crying herself to sleep for many nights because she cannot help anyone, and is also awaiting ‘heartbreaking’ letters from members of the public begging for her support.
Surprising Effects of Hefty Wins
From a psychological perspective, lottery winners are encouraged to be very careful about how they handle their windfalls. There is already strong scientific evidence to suggest that competition and comparisons between those close to the winners might put everyone in a bad place mentally, perhaps even leading to ultimate financial ruin.
Research has even shown an unexpected impact on the marriage rates of single women after they win substantial prizes. No, men don’t flock to their doors to propose – quite the opposite. Winners of millions seem to end up lonelier than regular folk on average, making it even more important for them to handle their finances carefully and with tact.
Another Canadian study by Sumit Agarwal, Vyacheslav Mikhed and Barry Scholnick shows that even the neighbours of winners can be negatively affected. As they make more and more extravagant purchases to keep up, they are statistically more likely to bankrupt themselves in the process, leading to resentment all around. In experts’ opinions, it is often a better idea in general to hand a portion of your jackpot over to charity anonymously, should you ever be lucky enough to transform into an instant millionaire overnight.