Saturday, September 15, 2007

Winning and Losing

Cnn.com's story on Jack Whittaker, 2002 Powerball jackpot winner, is another example of the truism that "money doesn't buy happiness." Described as "bad luck", Whittaker recounts his post-jackpot days to the AP, highlighting how his wife left him, his 17-year-old granddaughter died battling a drug addiction, and over 400 legal actions have been taken against him since he won big.

Whittaker was relatively affluent before even winning the lottery. He describes his and his family's life as "lavish", living off his prospering $17-million pipeline company. What seems to stand out in Whittaker's story, however, is the way his interactions with others have changed.

"I don't have any friends," says the multi-millionaire. "Every friend that I've had, practically, has wanted to borrow money or something and of course, once they borrow money from you, you can't be friends anymore." There was also mention on how cautious he had to be when meeting women and straying from those interested in his wallet, not him.

So Whittaker's case is unique in the sense that he seemingly had everything before striking it rich(er). According to past research, money seems to buy happiness when the individual is getting the financial boost out of poverty. For others, there seems to be no effect. Whittaker didn't need any more money for material things; his winnings instead resulted in a loss of social capital. From this particular story, we are limited to say how much of Whittaker's unfortunate outcomes can be attributed to him, but the story is telling of how impactful others can become in reacting to large sums of money. Where does one strike the balance between accumulating social versus financial capital?

2 comments:

Reza said...

Dear Friend,
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