What Happens To Lottery Winners Once They Have Their Millions?

Published June 26, 2016

With lottery jackpots frequently exceeding $100 million and more, what do people do with their new-found wealth, and does it actually make them happier?

Recent news stories about lottery jackpots hitting $1.5 billion or more have raised awareness that the potential is there to become rich beyond dreams overnight. Much is written about the winners and their celebrations, but what actually happens to them once the fuss has died down, and perhaps more importantly, are lottery winners any happier and contented than the rest of us?

Now that tickets can be bought through online services, lotteries around the world have opened up to a much wider audience, so the jackpots keep getting bigger and bigger.

An extraordinary statistic is that around 70% of people who win over $1 million will have lost it all within 5 years, while some wind up in deep debt when they fail to control their spending, but there are plenty of stories about people who have invested wisely and seen their fortunes keep on growing.

What To Do Once You Have Won

The biggest decision lottery winners will face in the immediate aftermath of their numbers coming up is whether to go public with their wins or keep it as quite as possible. In some US states, winners are required to go public and share their good news, but in the UK only around 25% of them choose to let the world know about their wins.

What To Buy?

Unsurprisingly perhaps, the first thing on most peoples' minds are houses and cars, with UK winners spending on average around $1.4 million on homes, and buying 4.5 cars. The top requirements for their new houses are a walk-in wardrobe and a hot tub, while around a third employed cleaners and gardeners to help keep these mansions neat and tidy. Audi, Range Rover and BMW topped the list of car brands and the average values came in at around $65,000. They also spend some $11,000 on vacations to celebrate their wins, with the USA, Caribbean, Dubai and Canary Islands being the most popular destinations.

While it's the winners of multi-million jackpots who make the headlines, a large majority of winners scoop 'just' $1 - 2 million, so around 85% of Americans choosing to stay in their jobs, while just 41% of British winners do so.

Are Lottery Winners Happier?

Studies of happiness levels among lottery winners can be difficult, as it's the stories of mis-fortune and loss that make the headlines, but once the initial euphoria has worn off, the majority of them are either happier, or much happier than they were before. Oddly enough, donating to friends, family or good causes is one of the most satisfying things winners can do, with one winner from Northern Ireland donating £26 million of her £27 million win to local causes and those in need.

Of course some will see family and friends try to exploit them, or treat them differently, while some get in trouble, with the Michael Carroll case, where a young multi-millionaire wound up in prison, being particularly notorious.

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