Like most people across the United States, I was sitting by my television at 11:00 PM EST eagerly awaiting the results of the $579.9 million Powerball drawing. By 11:01 PM, my hopes had been shattered. Thankfully, I only spent $6 at the very last minute after succumbing to the pressure of relatives who kept saying “You have to play in order to win.” The reality is that I already knew I would not win. God made it clear to me a long time ago that my rather unconventional path to wealth and success would be filled with hard work. Winning the lottery would go against all of that. Therefore, I expect my millions (and hopefully billions) to come another way.
My heart goes out to the millions of people who truly believe that the lottery is the only way to improve their lives because I understand their sentiments all too well. For the record, I am still a full-time graduate student and my businesses have not advanced to the point where I have reliable income. Every now and then, I think about my student loan debt and I wonder how things are going to change. Matters only get worse when I see specials on TV about people committing suicide or going into prostitution because of their student loan debt amounts (that often pale in comparison to mine). Still, I have the comfort in knowing that these days are only temporary for me. My “poverty experience” is really situational. In a few years, I’ll be a college professor or a consultant with enough money to live a decent life even with my high student loan payments. The same cannot be said of the single mother working 2 minimum wage jobs while taking care of her three children or the older man who was laid off two years ago and is still unable to find a job due to ageism.
Unfortunately, lotteries with large jackpots often prey upon vulnerable populations. Sure proceeds from state lotteries go to fund many government programs, but at what cost? Many people are so eager to find a quick route to wealth that they overlook the opportunities for entrepreneurship lying in front of them. Think of how different the world would be if people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Oprah, and Warren Buffett had focused on winning the lottery instead of nurturing their talents. The world is certainly better off because of the many ambitious people who seek to make a difference and end up becoming wealthy as a byproduct of their creativity. Furthermore, think of the high percentage of lottery winners who end up back in debt within a few years of receiving their prizes. Money without a plan or a purpose leads to disaster.
In the end, I am learning to be more thankful for my current position in life. It isn’t where I want to be, but I am finally starting to see the reason for the struggle. God wants me to come out on the other side of it and then go back and tell people about the journey. For that reason, the next time I consider playing the lottery in an attempt to accelerate the process, I’ll spend that $6 on a number 5 from Chick-Fil-A instead.