The syndrome of the new rich: win millions to the lottery, lose everything and finish ‘stripper’

They call it sudden wealth syndrome, sudden wealth syndrome or new rich syndrome. It has been translated in several ways, but it has an official name in English (sudden wealth syndrome) and a creator, psychologist Stephen Goldbart. It is one of the minds behind the Money, Meaning and Choices Institute (“Money, meaning and elections”) that provides financial and psychological help to middle or lower class people who, suddenly, have become millionaires. We are probably facing the only syndrome that all humanity would want to suffer.

The British Vivian Nicholson won a fortune in 1961 thanks to a sports pool. After spending it quickly and stupidly, she became a widow, married four times, became indebted, became an alcoholic and ended up dancing in a strip club

There is a lot of legend about it. “Do you know the one who won the fat Christmas? Well, he lost everything and is on the street! ” This is not always the case, but according to Money, Meaning and Choices, people who earn large sums of money and have to deal with a new socioeconomic status that does not know how to handle experiences symptoms such as isolation, feelings of guilt and extreme and irrational fear. To lose the money he has earned. It does not happen exclusively with the lottery: it also happens to people who receive an unexpected (and bulky) inheritance or to those who know a sudden professional success that reports a lot of money, such as elite athletes. But the lottery is your most common scenario,

Money, Meaning and Choices (MM&C) has detailed four phases of the relationship that someone who has received a huge amount of money goes through with their new fortune. The first is what he calls “honeymoon”: like a new relationship that begins, the owner of the money feels strong and happy. At this stage many winners of the lottery or a Grand Prix make ostentatious and unnecessary expenses: in this article in The New York Times, for example, Alcario Castellano, of California, tells that he bought a Jaguar from his wife Carmen when they won the scandalous $ 141 million in the lottery (about 126 million euros).

The Smiths put Vivian Nicholson, a woman who in 1961 won a huge sum of money on sports betting and got on the cover of her 1984 single ‘Heaven knows I’m miserable now’ It became a paradigmatic case of what instant wealth can do to someone.
The Smiths put Vivian Nicholson, a woman who in 1961 won a huge sum of money on sports betting and got on the cover of her 1984 single ‘Heaven knows I’m miserable now’ It became a paradigmatic case of what instant wealth can do to someone.
The second phase is the acceptance of wealth: the feeling of strength begins to mix with that of vulnerability and the new rich begins to consider the need to limit their expenses. In a third there is a consolidation of identity: the new rich person accepts that he is and learns to deal with his new identity, which is now defined by his enormous wealth. In the last phase, the administration, the new owner of the money has established a mature relationship with his wealth and is clear about what to do with it in “personal, family and philanthropic” terms.

MM&C’s advice to the new rich is clear: you will need a financial advisor, but also, and almost to a greater extent, a psychotherapist. The cases of sudden millionaires who end up in the mud are so many that they have almost become a journalistic subgenre and also a melodramatic one. The British Vivian Nicholson won about 152,000 pounds in 1961 (about three million euros currently in exchange) thanks to a sports pool and, after spending it quickly and stupidly, she became a widow, married four times, became indebted, became an alcoholic and ended up dancing in a strip club. A picture of him decorates the cover of the Smiths single Heaven knows I’m miserable now (” Heaven knows I’m miserable now “). His story has been told in a book , inA musical and in a TV movie .

Vivian’s case is the most famous, but there are many more and they always follow a similar trail: uncontrolled expenses, addictions, isolation from family and friends and, in the end, bankruptcy. These, of course, are the most extreme cases. In others, the dream of prudence is fulfilled and this injection of money makes its winners continue to lead a quiet life but, simply, more relaxed in economic terms. In 2017, the Cadena Ser located some winners of the Christmas Lottery Gordo from previous years. The fruit bowl José Antonio García used his 800,000 euros to buy a slightly better flat, a car and pay debts. María, who won 400,000 euros, bought a house with her husband on the outskirts of Madrid.

The case of Cristóbal González, who won 20 million pesetas in 1984 (today would also be around 400,000 euros today), is more beautiful: he left his job at the Casa del Libro to set up his own bookstore. Probably the only lesson we can learn from all this is that, given an unexpected amount of money, it is better that we follow our dreams instead of listening to our whims.