It’s said that “money changes everything”. We all know that hitting the jackpot provides lottery winners with a life changing amount of money and complete financial freedom, but research also shows that being a lotto winner often changes people in many other fundamental aspects of their life. Using data from polls and surveys collected from the United States and the Euro lottery, researchers have noticed some interesting trends in how the lives of lottery winners have been altered after they have received their prizes.
The first thing which many people fantasize about doing if they win the lottery is quit their jobs, often in dramatic fashion. Therefore it’s surprising that a study conducted by Gallup in 2005 found that 68% of the 1000 Americans who were polled said that they would keep working even if they won a $10 million jackpot. The responses varied widely based on the age of the individual being polled: nearly half of those surveyed who were over the age of 55 said they would retire, whereas only 18% of individuals in their twenties believed that they would stop working. Of those who said that they would continue working after winning the lottery, the older a respondent was the more likely they were to keep their current jobs. In contrast, younger responders said were more likely to put some of their winnings towards getting qualifications for better careers.
The number of people surveyed who said that they would keep their jobs increased significantly from an earlier poll conducted 15 years earlier. Analysts attributed the change to a number of varying factors. One theory is that there was an increase in the people’s general job satisfaction with the transition from industrial to service sector employment. Another view is that $10 million is simply no longer enough money to meet people’s financial goals or to retire securely on.
How people respond on surveys and how they behave in real life can be quite different however, and this may be the case with lottery players. In a survey of 3000 winners conducted by the National Lottery in the UK, 59% of actual lottery millionaires stopped working altogether while 15% quit their jobs and used their winnings to start their own businesses. Only 11% of those surveyed kept working at their current employment, significantly less than those polled by Gallup.
Do right wing people tend to have more money or does having more money tend to make people more right wing? A recent research study conducted by Professor Andrew Oswald of Warwick University in the UK and Professor Nattavudh Powdthavee of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research in Australia may have helped answer this question with evidence that winners of lottery prizes worth over 200,000 ($320,000) tend to switch their political support towards right-wing parties and become less egalitarian. The study, titled “Does Money make people right-wing and inegalitarian: a longitudinal study of lottery wins” suggested that lottery winners will usually change their political affiliation towards more right wing and fiscally conservative parties which favor the wealthy.
The study has made world headlines since it hypothesises that financial self-interest will usually trump ideological belief and social concerns at the voting booth. Although this phenomena of “flexible ethics” has long been observed over a longer period of time (people tend to get more conservative as their age and their salary grows) this study seems to suggest the change can take place almost immediately, as in the case with lottery winners. The study also found that this “right wing effect” seems to be more powerful in men than women, although the researchers are not clear why.
Lottery advertising campaigns like to show happy couples with a bottle of champagne and a novelty cheque celebrating their win. However studies of Powerball and Mega Millions statistics in the United States show that lottery winners are actually four times more likely to get divorced following their wins than the national average. Most recently in the UK, £148 million EuroMillions winners Adrian and Gillian Bayford made national headlines after a scandalous split was picked up by the paparazzi. Mrs. Bayford allegedly had an affair with their gardener before Mr. Bayford left the marriage for a new Polish fitness model half his wife’s age!
While many couples believe that money will solve their marital problems, in fact often times a major lottery windfall gives people the financial stability and confidence to leave loveless or stale relationships. Of course lottery companies prefer to show the couples who remain happily married after their lotto win or unwed couples who are able to afford their dream weddings with their winnings.
One thing which changes for virtually all lottery winners is the place which they call home. While a tiny fraction of lotto players will renovate their current homes with their winnings, the vast majority tend to move into bigger and more lavish properties.
Studies in the United Kingdom showed that 82% of 3000 millionaire winners who were surveyed changed their primary residence and spent about £900,000 on their new homes. The lottery millionaires owned properties worth 5 times as much as much as the national average and about 3 properties each, 2 of which were either financial investments or holiday homes. About 10% of those surveyed gave their current homes as gifts to family members or friends.
29% of the new homes had hot tubs, 28% have walk in wardrobes and 22% have a games room. 30% hired a cleaner to keep their new homes tidy and 24% hired a gardener or landscaper to maintain the outward appearance of their lawns. On average the millionaires bought about 6 new cars averaging 46,116 each with Audis being the most preferred model. About 10% of winners also bought high-end caravans or mobile homes.
A survey conducted by Euromillions found that about 10% of the 4000 lottery players surveyed would spend at least part of their winnings on plastic surgery. Unsurprisingly women were more likely than men to spend money on cosmetic procedures. Some countries such as France and Italy were also much more inclined to spend their money on trying to artificially improve their appearance.
Winning the lottery doesn’t just increase your bank balance it can have a dramatic effect on many different aspects of your life from the home you live in, to the political party which you support. Studying lottery statistics can give us an interesting insight into how money changes people