Sudden Wealth Syndrome: The Shocking Truth After $3.8 Million Powerball Lottery Win


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Powerball winner Willie Seeley and wife Donna on NBC’s TODAY show. PHOTO: Screengrab by @ChadWillis/Twitter

So you won last week. The most exciting time in your life has been and gone. You watched your numbers come up on TV, shouting and whooping, and you have traveled to the lottery HQ and collected your check.

Now what happens? If you’re like most major lottery winners, it won’t be long before everything returns to normal. But with an odd twist…

It happened to Powerball lottery winner Willie Seeley and his wife Nancy. They got depressed with the amount of unwanted attention.


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Willie Seeley found out firsthand the problems of sudden wealth after his $3.8 million win. Photo: NBC

In a NBC News interview, we get a glimpse of how the Powerball win has changed the Seeley’s lives. It happened after his TODAY appearance and a queue of long-lost relatives, sympathetic beggars – and what felt like every reality TV producer in the country.

“I pulled a .357 magnum on the last fellow who came walking up the driveway,” he said.

That seemed to work, but the phone didn’t stop ringing. National Geographic, A&E, Ryan Seacrest Productions — Seeley said he’s heard from them all.


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After the $3.8 million win, Willie said, “There are days I wish we were back to just getting paid every two weeks.”

The Seeleys were being bombarded by the media for interviews, and some family members they’d never heard of had approached them for loans and handouts.

Their problem is not unique. It’s what happens when your dreams come true, says Robert Pagliarini, advisor for recipients with ‘Sudden Wealth Syndrome,’ a recognised affliction.


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Robert Pagliarini (left) on Steve Harvey show. Photo: Pacifica Wealth

He says this problem of getting depressed after a win is what commonly happens to lottery winners and other recipients of sudden wealth from lawsuits, sports contracts or even inheritances.

Pagliarini (right) told Forbes Magazine as a sudden wealth financial advisor for over 15 years he’s had the chance to work with many people who have received a financial windfall.

And he has noticed that they all go through predictable patterns of thinking and behaviour like the Seeleys were experiencing.

Is there an answer to sudden wealth shock? Robert says you can either let the money control your lives, or you can begin to control your own lives and use the money as a tool. Robert’s suggestions include:

  • Get very clear on how much money you have.

  • Know where it is at all times.

  • Find out how much income it will produce.

  • Develop a strategy for responding to requests from friends and family.

Willie Seeley said, “You have to change your whole way of life, but we didn’t want to change the way we lived. We like the way we lived.”

Robert says if the Seeleys can get in front of the money and start to control it, based on his experience they will see definite improvements.

“They will start to feel good about the win and begin to use the money to improve their lives, rather as viewing it as a burden.”

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