Friday 21 October 2016

Congratulations, you've just won the lottery - and by the way, you're doomed

Ryan Magee
Ryan Magee

Ryan Magee is an example of an old theory that may still hold true. The theory is that winning the lottery doesn't make you happy.

Magee won £6.4m (€8.4m) on the Euromillions in 2008 and promptly did the kind of things lottery winners should do - he bought a Ferrari 458 and a house with a champagne bar. And he looked very happy.

This was despite a study of winners of the Illinois State Lottery in the 1970s that showed that (after a brief spike) their long-term happiness was the same as someone paralysed with a spinal injury.

It's not a new study, and more recent ones demonstrated that lottery winners show improved psychological well-being, so it seemed there might have been some hope for Magee.


But this week he showed up in court. To be banned for driving offences. In a Ford Focus, not a Ferrari. Next, we discovered that he was on legal aid - having sold his house and car, he still hadn't enough money left in his accounts to pay a lawyer.

Still, maybe it was possible he was still happy? Not according to his wife and solicitor. The former has left him and the latter told the court: "He has found himself not back at square one but several steps behind square one. He has appreciated somewhat late in the day his responsibilities to others, particularly in terms of his driving."

The solicitor went on to say that in the case of his client "every silver lining has a dark cloud".

Maybe there's still a lesson for us all. If Magee can win all that money, buy the dream house and dream car and still end up in misery, we should be careful what we wish for. Magee was one of 16 people who shared the £96m (€131m) jackpot. Wonder how they're getting on?

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