Since part of my long-term financial planning includes buying lottery tickets, I was keenly interested in "Lucky" (HBO, 9 tonight), the documentary that explores the lottery, including the allure of the game and the lives of winners.
My hope was that it wasn't all horror stories of people gone crazy from wealth and destroyed lives because I've read/heard that story and that's not going to be me!
Happily, "Lucky" is more nuanced than that. Yes, there are some stories about the harm instant wealth can do, but they're told with great thoughtfulness. And there are also stories of the magical quality sudden wealth can have.
The doc profiles a varied collection of winners; there's a Vietnamese immigrant who was one of 8 Nebraska plant workers to win $22 million, a middle-class couple from New Jersey that won $110 million, a near-homeless man who spent his last $3, partly on a ticket and ended up with $5 million.
The most troubling story is that of Buddy, who won $16 million and went to town, buying sometimes 400 pairs of pants at a time. Sadly, two of his siblings also tried to kill him. The middle-class couple doesn't face death threats, just jealousy and isolation; the lottery took away a hallmark of middle-class conversation: complaining about bills. Long-time friends turned on them, angry that the luck they thought should be theirs passed them by.
There's also a look at folks who addictively play the lottery (Ahem, I can stop anytime) and what it's like to almost win the big prize. Plus there are fun facts. Here's something to ponder: two percent of all lottery winnings are never claimed, including a 2002 Powerball prize worth $51.7 million. Check your tickets!
Enjoyable and often moving, "Lucky" gave me much to think about as I plan life with my future Powerball prize.