Does Winning Mega Millions Actually Bring You Happiness?

A study shows lottery winners experience no significant change in happiness, but do feel more satisfied.

A man shows his just purchased lottery tickets from the Blue Bird Liquor store in Hawthorne, California on October 23, 2018 ahead of the drawing tonight for the Mega Millions jackpot, now reaching USD 1.6 billion. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

Lottery officials said that a single lottery ticket purchased in South Carolina won the massive $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot, which begs the question: Does money buy happiness?

There have been a number of studies over the years to determine the psychological effects of a big, life-changing windfall. Each study has come to a different conclusion, and none of them have dealt with a payout as large as this one, reports The Daily Beast. 

But a classic 1978 study asked two extremely different groups of people how happy they were: 22 winners of the Illinois State Lottery who received between $50,000 and $1 million versus accident victims with paralysis. Lottery winners rated their happiness 3.33 out of 5, the quadriplegics and paraplegics rated theirs 3.48.

A preliminary paper published in May studied 3,362 “large prize winners” in Sweden, and found that people’s happiness was unchanged, especially after winning more than $100,000. But it suggested that jackpot winners’ experiences “sustained increases in overall life satisfaction” that lasted more than a decade. The study noted some participants may have bought a ticket because they were dissatisfied with their lives, which could have led to a change.

Meanwhile, a 2001 study showed that about $1.5 million could nudge people from sadness into happiness if they were especially gloomy, but the lasting impact on happiness was unclear.

And of course, have been reports that 70 percent of those who hit the jackpot end up bankrupt, writes The Daily Beast. 

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