THE GENERAL ATTRACTION of doing a lottery is the notion that any person, no matter their standing, has an equal chance of claiming victory – allowing for the possibility of a fairytale rags-to-riches story every time that a draw is made.
The problem with that, however, is that occasionally the winners will be people who weren’t really in need of much extra cash in the first place – or people who you may not think would ever bother buying a ticket.
The Powerball lottery – a pan-state lottery run in most of the fifty United States – had a jackpot of $254m on Monday, the 12th-highest jackpot ever, prompting people from across the country to hoard up on the famous $1 tickets.
The identity of the winners, however, has irked many – because the three men who won it, having bought only one $1 ticket, are three asset and wealth fund managers.
Reuters reports that the three men – Greg Skidmore, Brandon Lacoff and Tim Davidson – all work for a wealth management company, Belpoint Capital, which has around $82 million of assets under its control.
Ironically, that amount is less than their net victory – after taxes, and because they opted for a one-off payout rather than a multi-year payment – of $103.6 million (€77.2 million).
It’s been suggested, though, that there may be a little more to it than it first appears: ABC News quoted the landlord of their company’s office space, who said the trio had been approached by another person – the original purchaser of the ticket – who wanted to remain anonymous about their victory.
The idea, the landlord said, was that the anonymous ticketholder agreed to share the prize four ways – on the basis that the three men could manage the prize fund and make it even bigger.
“These are smart guys. They want to turn the $100 million into … $400 million. The plan was to keep all this private. You’ve seen people pry into other people’s lives. They want to protect their client,” the landlord said.
This was denied by a spokesman for the three, however, who insisted there was no anonymous fourth participant.
The cash has now been invested in a trust, which will donate some of the winnings to charitable trusts – including one veterans’ association which will receive $1m in the coming days.
As the LA Times notes, the neighbour of one of the winners remarked that their relative wealth didn’t mean they couldn’t be lucky – though an Occupy Wall Street protester, hearing of the news, complained:
The lottery screws the poor to begin with; the fact that rich men won is an insult.
It might also be noted that the odds of winning the Powerball – 195,249,054 to 1 – means it would be theoretically possible to buy tickets with every possible set of numbers, and still lock in a profit.
Sounds like a job for some wealth managers, that…