What’s it like going from zero to multi-millionaire overnight? Of course, most of us are sagely shaking our heads, claiming that we’d save the money and pay off debts, saving the balance for a rainy day or a child’s college fund. But what really happens when you’ve got a pocket full of cash? While the majority of these big winners splurge on house and cars, you’d be surprised at what lottery winners actually end up spending their shiny new pennies on. Even more shockingly, more than seventy percent of winners end up with zilch at the end of the day, despite the extra padding to their bank accounts. While this is usually due to a poor financial planning, or a lack of familiarity with tax laws, the truth is that most people find themselves in the middle of a major lifestyle change without having planned for it.
So here’s how lottery winners generally dish out their newfound dough:
10 10. Hot Tubs and Walk-in Closets
What is it about a giant tub of bubbles that just sends everyone over the moon? Whether it’s the cool factor (think Ray-Bans and a beer cosy), or just good old wholesome fun, a hot tub is usually the first upgrade that almost a third of lottery winners indulge in (or look for as a feature when touring the grounds of their potential new Mcmansion). Second on the list of what lottery winners look for when browsing for a new abode? Walk-in closets. Where else are you going to put all of you new shopping items?
9 9. Debt Reduction
After a big win, some winners choose to pay off their debts. Not as exciting as purchasing a canary-yellow Hummer or a private jet, but definitely more sensible. We’re also willing to bet that most of these individuals aren’t in the 70% of winners who declare bankruptcy or have to return to their jobs cleaning houses. Either way this is a smart choice and one that every winner should do first.
8 Family and Friends
That’s right. Most winners give a significant portion of those dollars away to family and friends. While there are happy endings to many of those stories, a surprising number of them end in tragedy. Illinois lottery winner Jeffrey Dampier decided to shower family and friends with expensive gifts and trips, only to be murdered by his sister-in-law and her partner, who are now serving a life sentence in prison. Many winners have claimed that their new wealth ended friendships and caused many family members to turn on them, wanting more cash than the winner was willing to give.
7 New Businesses
While a whopping percentage of individuals make the decision to live the easy life, quitting their jobs moments after the big win, some people make a long-term investment, starting their own businesses. Ranging from tame to over the top, one winner, Jonathan Vargas, went on to form his own production company, Wrestilicious. The Tampa resident decided to combine his two great loves: wrestling and hot girls. The show premiered but has since halted production. Or if you’re a little more realistic, like the Lohses of Iowa, you could live frugally and build yourselves a grocery store to make life a little more convenient.
6 Dogs and Racehorses
Surprisingly, one of the first things that most fresh-faced winners purchase is a pet, and most often, that pet is a dog (or on rare occasions, a Bengal cat). Whether for company or to protect the grounds of their newly purchased home, approximately a fifth of lottery winners find themselves with a fuzzy new friend to share their enriched lives with. Which, let’s just be honest, probably makes for better company then a nephew trying to siphon your millions.
Wanting to own a thoroughbred is also actually a thing, probably in an attempt to emulate the lifestyle of the rich and famous. This nouveau riche garnering to own a pony is generally a bust, since racehorses are expensive to upkeep, and are not sold with a guarantee, even if they are Secretariat’s great-great grandson.
With all those extra dollars, many lotto winners share the love. Whether you’re like Gloria Mackenzie of Maine, who chose to donate a portion of her winnings to fix a leaky high school roof, or have more liberal intentions (like Canada’s Bob Erb, who donated a million to 420 Day in support of marijuana legalization), charity is a pretty original way to spend your winnings, especially considering the tax breaks associated with charitable donations.
4 Drugs and other Vices
There’s nothing like a celebration after a big win. But for some the party doesn’t end there. A countless number of lottery winners have given up their money to drugs, alcohol and gambling (Michael Carroll (yes, again) spent approximately $3,000 USD a day on his cocaine habit). Take Evelyn Adams, for example. After winning the lottery once in 1985 and again in 1986, she currently resides in a trailer park in New Jersey, after giving away most of her money to friends, family and a sturdy gambling addiction.
After the windfall, some winners take off on a dream vacation, which is a pretty standard decision if you’ve suddenly come into a large amount of disposable income. Tours are usually to more exotic locals, like the Fiji Islands or the Bahamas, and are usually the first thing that winners do following the big win (a wee 3% even travel to Canada). And of course, the flights are almost always first-class tickets. Warm towel, anyone?
2 Sports Cars
Along with buying pets and fancy trips, most people opt for a new vehicle. While some choices are a little more sensible, like a Toyota Prius, some overexcited winners opt for bigger ticket items. Unfortunately, many of these big ballers forget about the amount of cash it takes to maintain a luxury vehicle (oil changes alone can climb as high as $1,000).
NB: Then there’s Michael Carroll who built a racetrack around his mansion after winning the National Lottery, crashing every car that he ever purchased, famously squandering his winnings. Last we heard, he had attempted to steal a cider and sandwich from his local supermarket.
Everyone’s got a dream home, and a new home is usually the number one thing on everyone’s wish list. From a chateau in France to an island in the Bahamas, lottery winners can be extreme in their real estate choices. Strangely enough, a number of winners end up downgrading to smaller homes after the excitement of buying a house with waterslides wears off, claiming that the mansions just “don’t feel like home.”