Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: How Winning the Lottery Changed My Life

With the Mega Millions jackpot at $540 million in March, I wrote a post stating that I didn’t want to win the lottery. Essentially, I didn’t want to deal with the media and people asking me for money. Based on this post, a publicist contacted me about “reviewing a memoir written by a true lottery winner.” Since I’m never one to pass up free stuff, I said sure.

Let me preface this review by writing that I expected to read a book. While I wasn’t expecting War & Peace, I was surprised that How Winning the Lottery Changed My Life by Sandra Hayes contained only 42 pages with 18 chapters. In my opinion, this is a pamphlet, not a book. Anyway, Sandra Hayes describes how she played the lottery with her co-workers dubbed the “Lucky 13,” including how she discovered that she won, the details about what happens after you win the lottery (meetings with the Missouri Lottery Commission and an attorney) and her stint on a reality show.

Are you curious about how much money Hayes won?

The truth is no one knows, but me. Each Lucky 13 Missouri Powerball Winner’s winnings are different. We all invested our winnings differently.

Then, two pages later, Hayes wrote the same thing.

The truth is no one knows how much money the Lucky 13 received. Each Lucky 13 Missouri Powerball winner’s winnings were different because we all invested our winnings differently.

In only 42 pages, how can you write the same thing so close together? This is probably a very minor point, but this was frustrating to me.

When discussing the reality show pitch, Hayes wrote, “My jaw dropped later that day when we met [the actors considering producing a reality show] in the conference room because I had had no idea one of my favorite actors would be standing that room.” Unfortunately, Hayes never revealed the actor’s identity. Are we talking Denzel Washington? Dustin Diamond?

After the reality show aired and included negative statements from family and friends about Hayes, she writes that she didn’t talk to some of these people for a year. Later in the same paragraph, Hayes states, “even today a few people do not like me because of the reality show. Who cares? Cut and paste – it was just a reality show.” Well, apparently she cared if she didn’t talk to folks for a year based on comments made on a reality show.

I’m happy that Hayes won and seems to have invested well. I also liked how Hayes shared that she once received food stamps and depended on a charitable organization to support her family and then gave back to that organization after she won the lottery. However, while I wanted to know more about Hayes’ experience (again, only 42 pages!), I really didn’t want to know more about Hayes’ experience. Hayes writes several times that she values her privacy, yet she went on a reality show and now wrote a book.

Spoiler alert: Hayes closes by asking the question "Is the downside of my life worth the wealth I have accumulated? My answer is yes." That’s probably all you need to know about this book and winning the lottery.

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