“I hope people will respect our privacy.”
Those are the words of a recent grand prize lottery winner in Canada, who was being interviewed by the media after picking up his cheque at lottery headquarters.
Good luck with that, I thought. If he wants privacy, why is he speaking to the media at all and allowing them to take his picture? Why didn’t he choose to remain anonymous?
I voiced that opinion to a colleague, who explained to me that the individual has no choice in the matter: in the interests of transparency, big lottery winners must consent to the publicity and photo-op.
I had known that this was past policy, but an attempted kidnapping case in Canada a few years back had lottery corporations rethinking that policy. It seems a winner was targeted by criminals. The corporation said afterward that it would allow winners to remain anonymous.
Apparently, the lottery folks reversed course on that: no more anonymity for big jackpot winners, according to my colleague. Lottery corporation transparency is more important than the personal security of its winners, apparently.
Hence, if you play the games and happen to hit the jackpot, your life may change for the worse — not the better. How so, you might be wondering. Well, several lottery jackpot winners have recounted their experiences in media reports, and they essentially go like this: within hours of the photo-op at lottery headquarters, the typical winner is besieged by strangers asking for money. One winner in the United States said he receives letters daily from people begging for money — he showed the reporters thousands of snail mail letters. And it was still going on years after the win.
And then, of course, there are friends and colleagues. Can you honestly go back to work the day after the photo-op and carry on as if nothing has changed in your life? The recent winner I mentioned at the top here said he planned to do just that, as did his wife.
The forced disclosure policy of lottery corporations should be enough to make every player reconsider: if you win, you may have to move in a hurry and start life over again in anonymity.
Or if you choose to stay in your current home, you may have to hire security guards.
And on and on it goes. I’m not going to belabor this. I think you all get my drift: the money could be a curse in myriad ways I haven’t even touched upon here, and at the root of it all is the lottery corporation’s apparent need for transparency.
Is it worth it? Would you really be willing to give up the life you know now for a lottery jackpot?