The memories of the particular day when my brother won the lottery are as vivid as yesterday. This day presented new opportunities for us all. It was without a doubt a life-changing moment for us as a family. Our life before the lottery win was simple and peasant to some extent. My brother and I were college students. We lived in a small apartment outside the city; my father was an alcoholic and an employee of a flower farm. I hardly recall the last time we were comfortable before the lottery jackpot miracle happened. My mother was a housewife; she took care of my younger siblings. Conflicts in my family back in the days were not unlikely. The little we had was to be divided among the eight of us and yet still some alcohol for my father.
My brother and I were the eldest in the family of eight. Being constantly out of school due to lack of tuition fees had delayed our graduation from the college. Our graduation was long overdue as it was seen to be the savior of the family once we had secured jobs. Our mother always emphasized the essence of education- being independent and supporting the younger siblings. Despite my father being an alcoholic, I always salute him, with the meager salary of a flower farm employee he had made commendable strides.
During this summer, my brother was briefly out of school due to lack of tuition fees. The little he received from the area Church as upkeep he used it to gamble. Gambling had become an addiction to him, but it kept him busy while he was away from school. Several campaigns had been held against gambling, but he was so deep into it. Further, he kept attempting to pull me into the vice without success. I quite recall a small, rugged book where my brother kept notes and tabulations that assisted him in predictions. In the past, my brother from his predictions had won a maximum of $60 after having successfully predicted the outcome of four football games. The losses however outweighed the wins, this always formed a basis (Oster 182) of my argument against the vice.
On this particular day, my brother had participated in an online lottery game. He had purchased a ticket with nine numbers between number one and ninety-nine. The lottery game was then to pick the winner via a live television commercial. For six consecutive numbers matching one was to win $100000 for seven consecutive numbers matching $120000 for eight consecutive numbers matching $1400000 and finally the jackpot for nine consecutive numbers matching a total of $150000 (Brickman et.al 922). This day I was uncommonly concerned with my brother’s ticket. However, deep within I knew the arithmetic behind the lottery and how hard it was to even match six consecutive numbers by mere luck (Anscombe and Robert 192-193). After purchasing the ticket, one could send the digits to 353535 where the lottery employees could verify the ticket number and match it with your name.
I can clearly recall the commercial, the balls with the lucky numbers were tossed, and after every five seconds the machine picked out one number. This was to happen until the ninth ball had been picked. The first ball to be picked was labeled 43 the second 7, 17, 87, 22, 62, 9, 13 and the final ball 56. The numbers matched my brother’s ticket in the same order. The host of the commercial repeated the numbers and again just for clarity. Silence filled our living room, my mother asked sarcastically “have you won?” just before the host of the commercial announced Alex Gordon as the winner of the Jackpot.
It took us time to come to terms with the triumphant win. For the next three days, the media covered us extensively. We also featured greatly in social media sites. The lottery company camped at our apartment as a marketing strategy according to Bruner, Gordon, and Anand (37-38). The entire family was dressed in new clothes and shoes by the lottery company. We were also given an executive ride to the company’s headquarters to pick a huge imitation of a cheque. As we received the cheque, everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of the lucky family. The whole experience felt like a dream.
The head of the lottery company delivered his speech after handing over the cheque; he promised that the company would source for a financial expert who would engage us as a family in investment decision making. My brother also gave an appreciation speech welcoming any form of expert help from the company aimed at making our family better. As he stepped off the stage, he was applauded. He was indeed the hero of the moment. Every one of us looked contented.
It wasn’t long before all the hype from the media died down. The promise of the lottery company to offer technical and financial advice was later changed to us catering the costs of the expert. We declined the offer; the money was all ours, and we had to decide what to do with it. My father proposed that we first settle our accumulated debts. These debts ranged from bank overdrafts, rent not paid, electricity bills and loans from friends. The money we had won was quite a chunk of money. Debts that had for a long time been a bother to our family were now settled once and for all with minimal impact on our Jackpot.
Our lives changed drastically, we now more than ever wore better clothes, ate to our satisfaction and more still, conflicts reduced greatly in our home. Unlike many summers in the past when we often remained at home, we took a one week holiday and the experience was amazing. This was a moment of pride for us as I had never seen my parents so relaxed ever before. As days went by we also purchased a new house and a family car. The house had a compound and was more spacious compared to our small apartment.
Our school fees were also paid adequately. This win had given as a second lease of life. At school our dignity was restored, our esteem was boosted. It was during this time of comfort that my father decided to quit his job and venture into business. For a long time my father had worked under poor conditions of flower farms; exposure to pesticides, poor pay and reduced leave days. At this time capital was not a challenge as it had been in the past. My father had also reduced his alcoholism, we all felt proud of the strides we had made in such a short time.
My father started off on a high note in his water bottling business. He purchased pumps, bottles, purification units and hired one employee as an assistant. The business is however yet to break even. We help at times in the processes of the small company when we are away from school. Our contribution is an effort towards cost-cutting as being edged out by competing firms in the water bottling firms is a possibility. However, returns are high if one is in a position to square it out with the established firms
Our progress is now greatly pegged on the success of my father’s business. If his decision to leave his flower farm job was well informed is something we are waiting to see. The success of my father’s business will open an opportunity for my mother to start a shop that sells things of whimsy that she has desired for a long time. Further, my brother feels that he is capable of running for a leadership position in his school by building on the popularity that came with the lottery win. However, this too depends on the success of the water bottling business.
While huge uncertainties lie ahead, as a family, we cannot regret the great strides we have made. Looking back we have come a long way. Our younger siblings now have a medical cover. Further, the college fee of my brother and I are fully paid. Our debts are settled, and we have a family car and a house. The greatest impact of the $150000 lottery win on our family was the unity; it reduced conflict and facilitated better management of my father’s alcoholism.
- Anscombe, Francis J., and Robert J. Aumann. “A definition of subjective probability.” The annals of mathematical statistics 34.1 (1963): 199-205.
- Brickman, Philip, Dan Coates, and Ronnie Janoff-Bulman. “Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative?.” Journal of personality and social psychology 36.8 (1978): 917.
- Bruner, Gordon C., and Anand Kumar. “Web commercials and advertising hierarchy-of-effects.” Journal of advertising research40.1-2 (2000): 35-42.
- Oster, Emily. “Are all lotteries regressive? Evidence from the Powerball.” National Tax Journal (2004): 179-187.