It looks like almost everybody does, judging from the way we buy lottery tickets.

Recently in Australia, one third of all Australians bought a ticket for a 1 in 80 million chance to win 100 million dollars. In the USA it is not unusual for many more people to buy tickets for a 1 in 300 million chance. These numbers are so huge that in the USA, buying lottery tickets is often referred to as a “stupidity tax.”

While it seems that we all want to be millionaires, some people obviously do win. They win big amounts of money with the hope and dream that their lives will be absolutely changed to the positive after the win. The truth unfortunately is quite different for most big winners.

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A recent Melbourne newspaper headline stated. “odds are that winning millions is for losers”. In the USA we read, “The lottery is a scam perpetrated on the foolish and most gullible.”

I personally have not known too many big lottery winners but am aware of one person who has used his winning wisely and is a “very happy person.” Most of the winners I knew had rather sad stories to tell after only a year.

American and Swedish research suggest that most “big” winners actually do not quit their jobs.

The sin of Adam and Eve was that they figured that they should be equal to God Himself. Lots of money can do that to us.

So many “lucky” winners actually slide into bankruptcy and greater problems such as family breakups, loss of friends, alcoholism, health issues and suicide. Winning large sums of money will actually make people sad. One author claims that “90% of lotto winners soon have no family, no friends, and no money.”

Of course, I know that if you actually win the big one, you will not have any of these if you are a very good money manager, know human nature and have a balanced spiritual life. If you look closer at the attitudes and actions of the less fortunate winners, you will notice these people forget about the fundamentals of Christian life. This is about original sin. The confusion about the nature of humans as they were created by God. The sin of Adam and Eve was that they figured that they should be equal to God Himself. Lots of money can do that to us. There is always a price to pay for getting our relationship with God wrong.

The one person, that I have personally met who has won lots of money and has had a very positive experience of it, is a good example of what I’m saying. This person still believes in God, prays, goes to church, has a strong love of family and community. More or Less what you would expect from a good Christian.

Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. AM

This article was published in The Church and Life Newspaper, September 2018