Why Rich People Don’t Win the Lottery


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When was the last time you played the lottery?

If the answer is “this morning”, you might want to keep reading.

The media likes writing stories about lottery winners because the masses like reading about their stories. For those who consistently play the lottery, the stories offer a sort of validation.

But when you peel the onion, the fantasy about winning the lottery is really all about a mindset that embraces instant gratification, instant rewards and instant wealth, without enduring any of the hardship pursuing wealth actually requires.

If you look carefully at any of those lottery-winner stories, one thing you would notice is that hardly any of the winners are CEOs, senior executives, successful entrepreneurs, successful professionals or other successful types.


As I learned from my five-year study on the rich and the poor, successful people don’t play the lottery because they don’t have a lottery mindset.

What is the lottery mindset?

It is the idea that there is a shortcut to wealth; that it is possible to become instantly wealthy by virtue of random good luck.

The problem is, those who have the lottery mindset are not living in reality. The lottery mindset is a fantasy with odds that boggle the mind.

In the 25-year history of the Iowa Lottery, for example, only 110 people won $1 million or more. That equates to about 4 millionaire-lottery winners a year. In 2006, there were 50,529 millionaires in Iowa. If you do the math, only about .0079% of all Iowa millionaires are, therefore, lottery winners. Not a very promising path to wealth.

But this lottery mindset is not just about playing the lottery. It’s about embracing uneducated risk and speculating with your money.

People who frequent casinos, have a lottery mindset. The recent masses jumping on the bitcoin bandwagon, have a lottery mindset. People who invest in start-ups they know little to nothing about, have a lottery mindset.

The lottery mindset brainwashes you into believing that there is an easier path towards wealth. One in which you are not required to do the requisite heavy lifting, that success requires.

Those with a lottery mindset do not pursue their dreams. They do not set goals. They do not step outside their comfort zone, experimenting and learning new things. They do not engage in daily self-improvement as a whetstone in developing expert knowledge or skills.

The demographics of those who buy into this get rich quick lottery mindset are typically poor people who see the lottery as the only available means by which they can level the playing field and become rich. Winning the lottery is the result of random luck, of which the rich have no advantage over the poor.

The lottery mindset brainwashes you into believing that there is an easier path towards wealth. One in which you are not required to do the requisite heavy lifting, that success requires.

But according to my research, there is no easier path. Wealth is a byproduct of success and success is a byproduct of doing certain things every day that help move you closer and closer to success.

In my most famous books, Rich Habits and Change Your Habits Change Your Life, I share the habits many millionaires have in common. For those who haven’t read any of my books, here’s a quick overview of seven of those Rich Habits:

#1 Success Requires Goal-Driven Actions/Behaviors

Goals are the construction crew self-made millionaires use to build their financial empires. In my research, these self-made millionaires created goals around their dreams and then spent as many as twelve years pursuing those goals.

#2 Success Requires the Pursuit of Some Dream

One of the three paths to wealth that I uncovered in my research was the pursuit of a dream. In the context of wealth creation, dreams are ideas that you can monetize. Dreamers are typically entrepreneurs who are very passionate about their dreams and fanatically spend every available moment thinking and taking action on their dreams.

#3 Success Requires Sacrifice

Typically, this sacrifice involves the expenditure of time, especially in the early stages, which limits how much time you are able to spend with close family and friends.

#4 Success Requires Practice

In order to succeed you must become a Virtuoso at what you do. This means you must practice what you do every day. There are two types of practice: Deliberate Practice, which requires daily repetition and Analytical Practice, which requires third party feedback, as in a coach or mentor.

#5 Success Requires Relentless Persistence

One common refrain from all of the self-made millionaires in my study was that it would take death or some long-term disability to stop them from the pursuit of success. Their fanatical obsession in turning their dream into a reality imbibes them with the Rich Habit of persistence.

#6 Success Requires Daily Study

Reading to learn thirty minutes or more every day in order to gain critical career-centric knowledge was a common attribute among the self-made millionaires in my study.

#7 Success is Fueled by Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise increases the myelin sheath around the axons of brain cells, which helps boost your IQ. Aerobic exercise also increases the flow of oxygen into the brain, which helps clean and strengthen brain cells. Lastly, aerobic exercise produces greater neurogenesis – the birth of new brain cells in the hippocampus portion of the brain. Due to this aerobic exercise Rich Habit, the self-made millionaires in my study had vastly superior cognitive abilities, which helped them solve problems, be creative and overcome obstacles.

There are no shortcuts in life to accumulating wealth. That’s the real secret to becoming rich, if there is one.

The lottery mindset is either a cop-out for those who are unwilling to do the heavy lifting success requires or a Hail Mary pass for those mired in poverty and feeling helpless.

You’re not helpless. Poverty can be overcome. I know. I interviewed 72 self-made millionaires who were raised in poverty and who overcame that poverty by forging habits that eventually led to success and wealth.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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