The powerless and the Powerball

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Is gambling worth the price?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan 27, 2016

I’m not a gambler. I live by the virtues of earning what I have—not winning it through gambling. Some people call gambling a “stupid person tax” and I don’t disagree. However, unlike tax, gambling comes with a little bit of hope; hope that this game of chance can alter your life for the better. But studies have found it not to be true.

Winning the lottery does not enhance life overall, just in materialistic ways. There have been cases of lottery winners going bankrupt, of fraudulent tax returns, of robbery, and of family and acquaintance sticking out their hands for a piece of the fortune. As The Notorious B.I.G. said, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.” And money coming into your possession so quickly will create more problems that you cannot prepare for.

Earlier this month, the Powerball broke the world record by reaching a jackpot of $1.6 billion. It caused a stir, and made some non-gamblers take a chance, entering the pot. It is almost inconceivable winning that amount of money. And while the winners won’t be billionaires after taxes, their winnings are still more than what most people would earn if they were to live 100 lives.

The winners turned out to be an average couple, John and Lisa Robinson from Munford, Tennessee. They claim that they won’t be making any extravagant purchases. They will use their winnings to pay off their mortgage and debts. They claim to be normal people and will be keeping their current jobs. However, they should know they are no longer such, and every action they make with their funds will be heavily criticized by their peers. To not hoard the money is a grand display of character. Remember, the lottery is a stupid person tax, and like all taxes the funds are expected to return to the public. They ask people to respect their privacy, but they lost that luxury when they went in public to announce their winnings.

See, winning the lottery is not a simple hand over of money in a suitcase. There is this whole process of proving that your ticket is not a fraud. Winning such a large sum of money forces you and your family into the public eye. You must first convince people that you have won it. And that was the case with the Robinsons, who were encouraged to go onto the Today Show and announce their luckiness—or unluckiness.

Winning the lottery—especially one so prominently publicized as the Powerball—is a life-changing event. With money there is great power, and now it’s up to the people who wield it to use it wisely. Should freeloaders trick the Robinsons, it wouldn’t be the first time. Should the Robinsons blow it all on extravagance, they won’t be the first. Should the Robinsons be corrupted by the mighty dollar, that is almost a guarantee. They want everyone to perceive them as normal, but there is nothing normal about winning a lottery of that magnitude.

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