WINNING $172.7 million in the Powerball lottery is hardly the last stop for 48 lucky SEPTA-workers-turned-instant-millionaires - but rather an unscheduled detour in the route of life.
The Daily News spoke last night with Matthew Sweeney, author of 2009's The Lottery Wars: Long Odds, Fast Money, and the Battle Over an American Institution, to get a sense of what's waiting down the tracks.
Q. So what's the first piece of advice you'd give the SEPTA lottery winners?
A. Hire a lawyer and a money manager. People have gotten savvier as more and more attention is paid to lottery winners, and so a lot of them, before they come forward, have all their ducks lined up.
Q. How can they expect their lives to change?
A. There's this myth about the curse of the lottery. While there's a handful of people who had terrible misfortune or terrible judgment after winning the lottery, most people who win the lottery buy a new car and take the vacation they always wanted to take - and you never hear from them again.
Q. How will it affect the SEPTA workers' relationships with one another?
A. You hope everybody trusts each other. There have been a couple of groups in which someone claimed that he bought the winning ticket with his own money, instead of the group's money.
Q. Should they quit their jobs?
A. I can't advise that. If you're 40 or 50, you don't know if it's enough to get you through everything. It can make life a lot easier, though.
Q. What will this mean for the lottery?
A. It's a potential marketing windfall. Whenever you have a group like this, of regular men and women, you can often put them in commercials if they have a lot of charisma. People can relate to them - they don't want to see a bunch of hedge-fund guys winning. . . . It's a chance for the lottery to market itself.
Q. Does winning the lottery make people happy?
A. A lottery winner told me this: "I don't care who you are . . . if you're a person who was happy before you won the lottery, you'll be happy after you won the lottery. If you're a person who was unhappy before you won the lottery, you'll be unhappy after you won the lottery."