Should Parents Be Playing The Lottery?

For some reason, I've always had this expectation that the lottery was simply part of adult life. I grew up with my own parents playing the lottery and never really did grasp any notion of harm. Sports betting was a completely different story though, I was told time after time that gambling was wrong and could very easily lead to addiction, but is the lottery really an exception to this rule?

People all over the world - myself included - were envious when Mavis Wanczyk of Massachusetts won a Powerball lottery jackpot prize of £758 million. Even after Wanczyk elected to take the cash prize option, and after taxes were deducted, her take home pay check came out to £336,350,655. It's not yet clear what Wanczyk will do with this enormous amount of money but she'll likely share some of the prize with her 31-year-old daughter and 26-year-old son.

One of the first things Wanczyk did after being notified of her lottery windfall was to quit her job in patient care at a local hospital. It’s safe to say that Wanczyk’s family is free from financial worries and that this financial security will extend to another generation as well.

Most of us fantasize about winning the lottery one day. As responsible adults we would likely set aside part of our prize to care for our families and make sure our children’s future is secure. But as a parent, is playing the lottery a responsible thing to do? Should a mother play the lottery?

The simplest answer to that question is why shouldn’t a mother play the lottery? After all, it’s a minor expense that we can figure into our weekly budget. It’s a small price to pay in hopes that one day our wildest dreams will come true. There’s a burst of excitement when lottery draw results are announced and we quickly check our tickets to see if our numbers match. If they don’t, we can put our dreams on hold in anticipation of the next draw. Some of the most interesting stories of lottery winners are those of mothers, many of them single mothers struggling to raise a family on their own, who came into a huge amount of luck that enabled them to turn their lives around.

Take for example the story of single mother Kelsey Zachow of Michigan. To make a living she was working two part-time jobs as a bartender and a medical assistant. After winning a $66 million Mega Millions jackpot prize in 2014, Zachow said she would use her prize to pay college tuition for her son and her boyfriend’s children, as well as purchase a new car and home for herself.

Another amazing story is that of Beverley Doran from Shipley. Doron won a £14,509,000 EuroMillions jackpot in February 2017 and immediately set purchasing a new home for her family as her first priority. A mother of four, three of whom are disabled, Doron said, "The main thing is that my children are going to be fine.”

The story of Marie Holmes, a 26-year-old single unemployed mother from North Carolina is more well-known. Holmes, who had apparently mastered everything you need to know about the US Powerball lottery, shared a £564 million jackpot prize with two other winners in February 2015. Holmes used her lottery win to care for her four children, including one who suffers from cerebral palsy. It should be noted, however, that some of the decisions Holmes made after winning the lottery were reckless, including the fact the she used part of her winnings to bail out her drug-trafficking boyfriend from jail.

If there is a lesson in these stories it is that parents should use their lottery wins responsibly. If lottery play leads to a big jackpot win, it should be followed by careful financial planning. And that goes not only for mothers, but for everyone.