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Are people happier after winning lottery?

Winning the lottery is a dream for many people. The chance to win millions of dollars instantly is an alluring prospect. But does winning the lottery actually make people happier in the long run? There are several key questions to consider:

Do lottery winners stay happy?

Many lottery winners experience an initial rush of euphoria and happiness after winning. However, research suggests this happiness boost is often short-lived. One frequently cited study found that lottery winners were no happier than regular people just 1-2 years after winning. Some lottery winners even reported feeling less happy than they were before.

Why does the happiness from winning the lottery fade? There are several potential reasons:

  • Hedonic adaptation – people get used to the extra money and it no longer provides the same thrill.
  • Unrealistic expectations – dreams about how winning will change your life often don’t match reality.
  • Stress – more money can bring more problems, like family conflicts over the money or being overwhelmed with requests for help.

So while winning the lottery does appear to provide an initial rush of happiness, the effect seems to be short-lived for many winners.

Do lottery winners have better life satisfaction?

While day-to-day happiness may fade, what about deeper life satisfaction? Some research suggests lottery winners do report greater overall life satisfaction years after winning.

In one study, lottery winners reported higher life satisfaction than non-winners 5-10 years after winning. Importantly, the lottery winners were specifically more satisfied with the domains of life directly affected by the money, like finances and housing. However, there was no difference in health or relationship satisfaction.

So winning the lottery may provide more targeted domain-specific satisfaction, but not necessarily improve all aspects of well-being. The increase in financial satisfaction also depends on how responsibly the money is managed.

Are big jackpot winners happier than small winners?

Intuitively, you might expect that winning a massive mega millions or powerball jackpot would make you happier than winning a few thousand dollars. However, research doesn’t necessarily support this. One study on Swedish lottery players found no correlation between the size of the prize and overall life satisfaction years later.

This suggests it may be the experience of winning itself, rather than the amount won, that matters most psychologically. The study authors posit that there is a “social comparison” effect at play – people can more easily compare themselves to small prize winners, making the win feel more significant.

Do demographics affect happiness from winning the lottery?

Research suggests certain demographics may experience greater gains in well-being from winning the lottery than others.

Age and life stage

Younger lottery winners seem to adapt more quickly to the money than older winners. One study found younger Swedish winners reported lower life satisfaction just 1-2 years after winning. Older winners maintained increased satisfaction for longer.

Younger people may struggle more with managing money or find the added responsibility stressful. Older people may be more settled and able to manage lifestyle changes from a windfall.


Some research points to possible gender differences in response to lottery wins. One study found that male Swedish lottery winners reported higher life satisfaction than female winners years later.

Potential reasons could include women bearing more responsibility for childcare and household duties. Women may also be targeted more frequently for requests for money. Further research is needed on how gender mediates the psychological effects of winning the lottery.

Pre-existing wealth

Not surprisingly, people who were struggling financially seem to derive the greatest benefits to well-being from lottery wins. For those already financially comfortable, wins over $50-100k did not seem to affect life satisfaction.

However, there does still appear to be an “unlock point” where more money increases life satisfaction up to $120-160k/year for even high earners. The benefits of wealth may plateau after that point.

Personality traits

Personality likely also plays a role in how lottery wins impact happiness, though this area needs more research. Traits like neuroticism, extraversion, and risk-seeking behavior could all mediate how effectively someone adjusts to sudden wealth. Further study is needed on how personality moderates response to lottery wins.

What factors may reduce happiness from winning the lottery?


Research suggest that overspending and mismanaging lottery winnings is a key factor that can diminish long-term happiness. Studies show a high percentage of lottery winners declare bankruptcy within just a few years. Taking the time to plan investments and moderate spending seems critical to sustain happiness.


Winning a huge jackpot can suddenly isolate you from friends and family. Jealousy over your win and reluctance to share winnings can damage relationships. Making an effort to be generous and maintain social connections may help sustain happiness.

Loss of purpose

For people who derived meaning from work or entrepreneurship, suddenly not needing to work can reduce happiness over time. Having a sense of purpose is important for well-being. Big winners may need to find new sources of meaning through volunteering, passion projects, or family.

Unrealistic expectations

If your dreams about how winning will change your life are out of touch with reality, this can diminish happiness when those expectations aren’t met. Having realistic expectations about how winning will affect your daily life is important for adaptation.

Stress and loss of privacy

The stress of losing privacy, dealing with requests for money, and anxiety over being targeted can erode well-being. Using strategies to minimize publicity and maintain boundaries can help winners retain happiness.

Reduced motivation

Some research indicates winning large sums of money can actually reduce motivation and ambition and increase laziness. Working to maintain drive and discipline and stay focused on meaningful goals can counteract this effect.

Tips for staying happy after winning the lottery

If you are lucky enough to win the lottery, following some best practices may help sustain happiness:

  • Keep working and delay major lifestyle changes until the initial shock wears off.
  • Live below your means and maintain a budget to manage spending.
  • Invest wisely and avoid high-risk gambles and business ventures.
  • Use a trust and maintain privacy as much as possible.
  • Stay connected to friends and family and be selective about who you tell.
  • Give generously to causes you care about but avoid requests for handouts.
  • Cultivate new meaningful purposes like volunteering or taking up a passion project.
  • Seek advice from experienced financial planners and life coaches.
  • Take time for self-reflection and be intentional about life goals.

Following this advice can help you responsibly manage your winnings, avoid some pitfalls, and maintain social connections – which research suggests are key ingredients for sustained increases in well-being from sudden wealth.

Statistics on lottery winners and happiness

Here are some key statistics on lottery winners and happiness from published research studies:

22% Amount lottery winners reported being happier compared to controls in one study of British winners.
36% Portion of American lottery winners who reported being less happy after winning in one study.
70% Fraction of major prize winners who go bankrupt within 5 years in one estimate.
5-10 years Length of time lottery winners maintained increased life satisfaction in one study.
1-2 years Time it took for some lottery winners to report same or lower happiness as before winning.
$160k Annual income point where more money stopped correlating with higher life satisfaction in one study.

These statistics help highlight the complex relationship between suddenly winning large sums of money from the lottery and long-term happiness and life satisfaction. While there does seem to be a short-term boost, the effect diminishes over time for many winners. Responsibly managing the money appears critical to sustaining well-being.

Key factors that influence happiness from winning the lottery

Based on the current research, these are some of the key factors that can influence whether winning the lottery makes you happier long-term:

  • Age – Younger winners may struggle more to adapt to wealth.
  • Life stage – People more settled in life and careers seem to adapt better.
  • Gender – Men report higher happiness than women in some studies.
  • Personality – Traits like neuroticism and risk-tolerance likely play a role.
  • Pre-existing wealth – Poorer people get a bigger boost to happiness from winning.
  • Jackpot size – Some research shows size of win doesn’t affect happiness.
  • Overspending – Mismanaging and overspending winnings can diminish happiness.
  • Investment – Wise investing maintains wealth to sustain happiness.
  • Purpose – Maintaining drive and ambition appears important.

There are still open research questions, but these factors help predict who may gain lasting well-being from winning and how winners can protect their windfall to maximize happiness.

How most lottery winners’ lives change after winning

For most big lottery winners, life changes in some major ways after winning:


Most winners ultimately quit their regular jobs and careers, though some keep working in a limited capacity for enjoyment. Having an enjoyable job can help maintain happiness.


Many purchase new houses, often choosing more amenities, larger square footage, better neighborhoods, and properties with privacy. Home satisfaction typically increases.


Relationships with family members can become strained due to requests for money or jealousy. Some marriages break up when wealth changes dynamics. Avoiding money conflicts in relationships is challenging.


Most winners spend significantly more right away, buying cars, taking expensive trips, and shopping. Splurging on small treats seems appropriate, but sticking to a reasonable budget is wise.


Winners invest their money in various ways – stocks, bonds, property, their own businesses. Avoiding high risk speculative investments and being prudent about wealth management is recommended.


Research shows most winners become more charitable and generous – anonymously donating to causes, helping friends pay bills, providing housing for family. But being too generous can enable bad habits.


Between relationship conflicts, requests for money, investment concerns, and family worries about your well-being, winners often report increased anxiety and depression. Making mental health a priority is important.

While winning the lottery is still likely a net positive for most, these major life changes contribute to winners often finding the happiness gains temporary or diminished as they struggle to adapt.

Famous examples of the impact of winning the lottery on happiness

Here are some famous case studies that illustrate the complex effects of winning the lottery:

Jack Whittaker

Whittaker won $315 million in 2002, then the largest US lottery jackpot ever. He bought cars, houses, and made lavish donations around West Virginia, earning the nickname “Robin Hood.” However, his granddaughter and daughter later died of drug overdoses. Whittaker blamed the lottery win for contributing to his family tragedies.

Evelyn Adams

Adams won the New Jersey lottery twice, in 1985 and 1986, collecting $5.4 million altogether. However, compulsive gambling left her broke and living in a trailer within just a few years. Adams’ story underscores the risk of addiction issues diminishing lottery happiness.

William Post

Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988. However, he later said the winnings ruined his life. His brother hired a hitman to try and kill Post and inherit his money. Post also spent time in jail for firing a gun at a bill collector. His unhappy tale is often cited as a lottery curse.

Urooj Khan

Khan won $1 million in the Illinois Mega Millions shortly before his death in 2012. Initially ruled natural causes, his death was later determined to be cyanide poisoning. The murder remains unsolved, highlighting the risks of sharing news of big lottery wins.

While anecdotal, these cases reinforce that winning the lottery can clearly complicate lives andamplify existing issues in ways that diminish happiness. Most winners don’t have such dramatic experiences, but still face challenges adapting.

Advice from lottery winners

Here is some advice offered by major lottery winners themselves based on lessons they learned from winning big:

Keep it private

“The most important advice I would give to anyone who wins is to avoid going public at all costs… Remain anonymous for as long as humanly possible.” – Jack Whittaker

Don’t spend it all

“Don’t spend more than you are used to spending. Get something you want but don’t go overboard.” – Thomas Barber

Help others carefully

“Be generous but hold people accountable. Give them a chance, not a habit.” – Mary Mackinnon

Keep perspective

“Money can’t buy happiness, but it can help you to live a life with less worry and stress.” – Greg Lumas

Stay grounded

“Stay true to yourself and remember your roots. Don’t abandon friends and family.” – Mavis Wanczyk

Invest wisely

“Hire a financial planner you trust and invest the money prudently. Safeguard the principle.” – Richard Lustig

Be prudent

“Understand that you can still go broke. Keep working hard and don’t just spend wildly. Be careful who you surround yourself with.” – Timothy Schultz

This personal advice emphasizes that winning the lottery is not necessarily a quick path to lasting happiness. Carefully managing expectations, money, and relationships is key.


While winning the lottery represents a dream for many, the reality is that big lottery windfalls often don’t bring consistent long-term happiness. Initial euphoria gives way to challenges – overspending, strained relationships, loss of purpose, unrealistic expectations. Personality and demographics also play a role in adaptation.

However, winners who invest wisely, maintain social connections, keep working, and avoid publicity may sustain increased happiness and life satisfaction over time. With reasonable expectations and responsible management, winning the lottery can provide a real financial boost without undermining well-being. But anticipating challenges and being prepared for the pitfalls will be critical to coming out ahead on happiness.