Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

I'm not sure why this article keeps getting upvotes. This is an article about a person who won their state lottery 10 years ago, then lost all the money through constant, consistent poor decision-making. The winner was a small business owner, that's the only connection I can make.

I've heard this story dozens of times, usually from morally-aggressive people as an anecdote for why money is evil. I've heard it discussed on radio talk shows, and also by radio DJs. I could swear I've read about it here before, and I'm sure I've seen it on TV too.

I think the interesting point is that he already had a lot of money, and was perfectly capable of handling it. But when the money was handed to him (rather than earned) he went off the rails.

I'm not qualified to say whether that is a known psychological reaction, but it would seem relevant to the startup world.

My guess: unearned money gives one a sense of social status, and high social status (like power) corrupts. Most of the destructive things these people do are related to social status.

It doesn't sound to me like he necessarily has a money-management problem. He probably still is quite rich. It's the rest of his life that is ruined.

It hit home for me because it brought to light something I hadn't thought about before.

I, like a lot people, have had daydreams about winning the lottery and what I would do with the money. I'd consider myself relatively fiscally intelligent, I'd make a few gratuitous purchases but most of the money would get invested. However, my daydreams also include giving a lot of money to the people I love. Seems like a harmless, selfless gesture, but Jack Whittaker's generosity towards his granddaughter contributed to events that eventually led to her death.

Sure, I have no idea what his granddaughter was like before the money, and maybe she was already on that collision course, but it made me think about how giving someone a ton of money could seriously negatively impact their life.

I would never give lots of money to people I love. For the most part, they've struggled to get where they are in life, and that successful struggle is a source of pride and self respect.

If you give someone like that a lot of money, it makes all their own accomplishments meaningless in the same way the subject of the story had his own accomplishments made meaningless by such a big windfall. They'll lose a big source of self respect. They'll resent you for it, even if they don't understand why.

You're right about not giving a very large amount of money to people who aren't ready for it. When the protagonist of this article gave money to his daughter, he was basically giving her the same problem he had.

I'd feel obligated to pay for modest things for family and friends, like large holiday and birthday gifts, partial college for nieces and nephews -- maybe buy an "AirBnB condo" near campus and give them free room & board. Maybe give away a cheap good used car every year. Maybe angel invest in a couple of friends' startups.

Maybe it's because of my poor roots, but I would try to help out the people around me who've helped me in the past, in small ways.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact