Mavis Wanczyk won the lottery. Then she did what most people would do after winning a $758.7 million Powerball prize: She called her job and told them she was never coming back. Okay, most of us probably wouldn't even have called.
Wanczyk is a 53-year-old mother of two adult children who will now retire from her job at Mercy Medical Center in Massachusetts after working there for 32 years. She chose to take the lump sum payout, which amounts to $480 million before taxes.
No wild parties or extravagant purchases for her, though. She said "I'm just going to hide in my bed" when asked how she would celebrate Thursday night.
A little boring, maybe, but not actually a bad plan. To make the rest of us feel a little better about not having struck it rich yesterday, let's review some cautionary tales from previous lottery winners. Last year, Time Magazine looked at how some of their lives had turned out since winning.
Jack Whittaker of West Virginia won a $315 million dollar lottery in 2002. He got robbed of $545k in his car outside a strip club (pro tip: don't take $545k cash anywhere, let alone a strip club). He went broke and lost a daughter and granddaughter to drug overdoses. In the end, he and his wife both say they wish they had torn up the tickets. Truly a tragic story.
Sandra Hayes of Missouri split a $224 million Powerball with 12 coworkers. She said the money ruined her relationships as her friends and family were constantly trying to get money from her and "turning into vampires trying to suck the life" out of her.
Abraham Shakespeare of Florida won a $30 million jackpot in 2009 and was murdered not long after, shot twice in the chest and buried in a backyard. The murderer? A "friend" Shakespeare made after winning the lotto. Shakespeare's brother said the lotto winner often said "I'd have been better off broke."
There you have it. See, we're actually lucky we didn't win!
Who am I kidding. I think most of us would feel more like Richard Lustig if we won. Lustig won the lottery seven different times a few decades ago, and has maintained his wealth ever since. His perspective?
"I've been rich and I've been poor, and I like rich a whole lot better," Lustig has said.
I don't anticipate that we'll hear any stories of Ms. Wanczyk getting robbed outside a strip club, however. She said she doesn't want the money to change her.
"I want to just be me, be alone and figure out what I want to do," Wanczyk said.
Congratulations, Mavis. And be safe.