Opinion: Connecticut wealth managers put the ‘lot’ in lottery winners


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Three Connecticut men just won a lottery jackpot of $254 million –- or, as their crowd would call it, ‘the restaurant tab.’

All three are wealth managers from Greenwich –- not exactly the other side of the tracks -– and already, that $1 ticket bought at a Stamford gas station, which works out to 33.33 cents each, is becoming a new trope for the gaping divide between the rich and everyone else.


In this corner, on behalf of the one percenters, one winner’s neighbor told the New York Daily News, ‘Just because he’s successful doesn’t mean he can’t get lucky.’

And in the other corner, on behalf of the 99%, Occupy Wall Streeter Matt Schaffer, a 19-year-old Brooklyn College student, observed, ‘The lottery screws the poor to begin with; the fact that rich men won is an insult.’

As far as a lot of Americans are concerned, playing the lottery is not much different from the investment philosophy that has been guiding Wall Street’s hand these many years, with pretty much the same odds and outcome, except for the rare and fortunate few.

This puts lottery executives across the country in a quandary. The Powerball win can show that it isn’t just the poor who play the lottery, but the win is also hugely contrary to the standard lottery story line Americans love, those Cinderella tales of trailer-park-to-McMansion overnight, and then the inevitable downfall stories of riches to rags again, of gambling losses, greedy relatives and crooked investors.

My favorite was a story I covered, when an illegal immigrant from Mexico won $2 million in the California lottery -- a result that caught the attention of immigration officials. Jose Caballero went back to Mexico with his winnings and became a king in his hometown, but within seven years, he was busted on suspicion of heroin trafficking -- and then had the chutzpah to ask the federal courts to pay for his lawyer.

In the Connecticut case, ABC News is reporting that the three men aren’t the winners themselves –- that they’re providing cover for an even richer winner, one of their clients.

It’s taken nearly a month since the Nov. 2 drawing for the trio to come forward, their lawyer said, because they have been doing estate and tax planning; in that vein, ‘a significant amount,’ the lawyer said, will go to charity.

I’d love to see a Frank Capra ending to this: The three men direct that charity percentage of their winnings to endowing a school for smart, poor kids, or maybe creating a job training center for blue-collar workers who lost their jobs and their 401(k)s. They show up to cut the ribbon. They meet the people they’re helping. They have an epiphany, a real ‘Zuzu’s petals’ moment, give up their investment jobs and devote the bulk of their time and disposable income to show how the one percenters can help the 99 percenters to succeed in what is supposed to be the American way –- by smarts and hard work, not six randomly winning numbers.


The wealth divide

California’s wealth pyramid

Occupy L.A.: It’s time for a bigger mission

-- Patt Morrison