Planning to Win the Powerball? Read This First


powerballBy Mendy Kaminker

“I know you usually don’t buy a lottery ticket, but this time, you have to buy! It’s at $1.3 billion!” my friend told me Sunday morning after davening.

“Oh, sure,” I replied. “Usually, I don’t buy because the prize is so small—you know, just $150 million. Not worth the effort. But when it’s over a billion, that’s different,” I said with a laugh.

We spoke about the big “What If?” What would we do with the Powerball winnings? How would our lives change?

A third congregant joined the conversation. “I know very well how my life would change if I won,” he said. “I’d lose every meaningful relationship I ever had.” Seeing our surprised faces, he continued: “I wouldn’t be able to ever know if my friends really enjoyed my company and appreciated my corny jokes, or just appreciated the new size of my pockets. And when my nephew comes to us for the Passover seder, would it be because he loves his uncle, or because he’s planning to go to an Ivy League college and is looking for a sponsor?”

On the way home from services, I kept on debating whether or not I should buy a lottery ticket. Letting my imagination run wild, I envisioned the moment I would scan my ticket and the green neon text would flash: “You won $1,300,000,000.” (Is that how it works? And then everyone around you starts clapping with excitement? If you ever won the lottery, use the comment section to share the details.)

But then, after all the excitement and the phone calls and the news reports, you’re left to begin a new life. And there are so many risks associated with that—with becoming a millionaire overnight.

First, there is that relationship issue.

Then, there is a real fear that you might start to become something different, perhaps more arrogant, the money going to your head. All of a sudden, you feel better, smarter and more successful than everyone else. No one around you will dare to challenge that, and very quickly that can make you a pretty lousy person.

Maybe one of the greatest risks is the real possibility that you will simply squander all the money. Without proper knowledge, I’d be easily persuaded to buy some real estate on an obscure Caribbean island, just to find out that the investment was not worth much. And yes, it is true: Many lottery winners lost their entire fortunes due to bad decision-making.

I still don’t know if I’ll buy a ticket or not. But all of it makes me realize that those risks are something we all face.

Because if we are honest with ourselves, we all are already rich. We all have some unique gifts and talents. Most likely, we didn’t wake up one morning and realize that we had them; we worked hard to develop those G‑d-given gifts and formed them into something we could be proud of.

Every person is rich. Some of us know how to write; others know how to speak. Some have tremendous talent in working with children; others have love and empathy that can brighten an elderly person’s life. Some know how to play a musical instrument; others can drive heavy machinery with ease. And some of us were blessed with the gift of material abundance as well.

But then, are we perhaps a bit arrogant due to those gifts? Do we look down on people who don’t possess the same gifts that we have? And the most important questions of all: Are we investing our skills in the right places? Are we mindful of the One Who gave us those gifts, and are we using them to fulfill His desire that we use them to make the world a better, holier place?

Will I ever win the lottery? Will you? Most likely, the answer is no. But there is a lottery you’ve already won. Let’s use those assets wisely.


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  1. No one buys the lottery to win. We all know deep down that it would destroy us, our family, and now ‘serene’ lifestyle. We buy the lottery for $2 to imagine, to dream, if only… imagine if I could just pay all my children’s tuition in full for life this week… imagine how I could help so many of my friends without jobs…. imagine a life without any financial worries… imagine being able to support a wife and family with dignity, honor, easily… imagine…

    Imagine what how life can be so relaxing and calming and I’d be able sit a learn with a worry…

    Is that what really happens?? Of course not!!

    But you can imagine… all for only $2

  2. very nice n8
    I heard in the name of R’ Avigdor Miller ztl that its good to dream what one will do with a lot of money because HKBH is Mitztaref Machshava Tova LeMaaseh so if your intent is really true Hashem will give you the Schar as if you won it and distributed all that Tzedaka…..but lechoira you have to buy a ticket to get the Schar!

  3. How about being as Sofek winner than a Vadai loser!

    The article is very good and gives us all something to ponder and take to heart.

    Appreciate the gifts and wealth of LIFE every day.

  4. You are right for thinking . BUT Hashem will not regret it when HE give us some 1,300,000,000. There are many Mitzvos we can do for others as well as for ourselves when we receive such a sum . There are those
    who push away a good shidduch being embarrased to invite Mechutanim to a house that can use an upgrade.
    There are potential couples where one keeps delaying the Shidduch prospect hoping to improve the house
    and general necessities . That’s an outrageous reason to put off a shidduch. There are those who have been there and done that. So calm down. We are ready for Hashem’s Brochos and the Ultimate Geulah IMMEDIATELY!

  5. Who ever “wins” this lottery, will only bring kellala. The facts have proven out. Marriages are ruined. Relationships are ruined. Children are ruined. You live in constant fear. The harassment is 24/7 without any let up. Within 5 years of the “winnings”, most are in prison/dept/dead. Now why would any sane person want that?

  6. The Apter Rav told the Rich man that lost it all,
    you where given the money as a banker that is trustful manager Not to used it for your self.
    Now it was transferred to someone else…