Why I’m not ready to win the lottery

Coffee Bay, Cebu City
Coffee Bay, Cebu City IT Park

In the last month, the lottery jackpot was so huge (about one billion pesos or 19.2 million USD) that I was persuaded to join the office money pot for buying lotto* tickets. I uselessly spent about PhP400.00 in lotto tickets.

I figured that the odds of winning would be better with more tickets and I also didn’t want to miss out in case my officemates did actually win! I realize that the odds of winning the lottery involve one-in-a-million chances but I mostly joined in for the fun. And we did win and I had fun.

We won a tiny amount of money a portion of which we spent for snacks while the rest was rolled-over by buying tickets for the next draw. To spoil the ending, no, we didn’t win the billion peso jackpot! We came close too! Haha.

Buying lottery tickets taught me that I am not ready to win the lottery.

Emotions may get in the way of rational thinking when things are moving too fast.

Life changes the instant you receive that billion-peso** check. How instant? Well you now have to pay a large portion in taxes to the government which of course takes its share first. One may have wrongly expected a larger amount of money and end up with way less than expected, after all, one billion after taxes is only PhP800 million. So don’t be going around spending money you actually haven’t received yet!

If one is not emotionally or mentally ready, having that much money in an instant may negatively impact your emotional or mental health. Like this 17-year old British teen who won one million pounds but now claims that her life feels emotionally empty. She did manage her money wisely with the advice of family and financial advisers.

People may change.

Inevitably, people will find out you’re a billionaire and more likely than not, you will become an everyday ATM machine. You run the risk of associates or family often expecting you to pick up the tab. Family may become financially dependent on you. It is said that it is often the people closest to you that feel no remorse in abusing you.

With immediate cash often comes nicer and cleaner clothes. When you’re in nicer apparel, you may no longer do the whole broke-ass college lifestyle of walking/commuting everywhere or eating at shitty places at the risk of being on the receiving end of judgmental stares or well, being mugged.

Nowhere to go but down and risk is everywhere.

Money does not buy happiness but few things rival the excitement of winning a billion. Money gives you options–whether to quit that job you hate and switch to one that actually brings you joy. There is nowhere to go but down.

As stakes get higher, so may the paranoia and that feeling of just waiting for the other shoe to drop. If the money was not invested wisely i.e. not diversified across varied investment vehicles, a wrong judgment call may cost you a billion. Even if the money was diversified, you always have to weigh in the market risk, political and government risk.

You may fail to manage your money wisely. This Pinoy lottery winner won PhP14 million pesos in 2008 but lost it all due to gambling debts and womanizing. He is back to working again. There are many sad stories of Pinoy lottery winners who failed to manage their money wisely.

Getting rich quickly is nice but it is not the path to lasting wealth.

Are you ready to win the lottery?


*Generally, gambling is prohibited in the Philippines unless allowed by law i.e. casinos operated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and lotto or small town lottery authorized by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

**In the Philippines, lottery winnings are awarded lump-sum unlike in other countries where one is given the option of receiving in staggard payments. Winnings are now awarded net of the 20% income tax which is automatically withheld by the government.

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