How a Woman Won the $10 Million Dollar Lottery and Now Rides the Bus to Work

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by Dr. Boyce Watkins

Sharon Tirabassi was living the dream.  She won the $10.5 million dollar lottery in her home country of Canada, earning her a consistent residence on cloud nine.  All the things that she’d always wanted were wide open to her:  Expensive cars, fancy houses, designer clothes and expensive vacations.  Her financial freedom was right in front of her eyes, and it was time to live the lifestyle she’d always deserved.

But years later, Sharon rides the bus to work.  When she doesn’t feel like riding the bus, she rides her bike.  She’s not doing it for exercise.  Instead, it’s because she can’t afford to fix the car that sits in the family’s driveway.  All the relatives who were quick to borrow money from her when she won the lottery are nowhere to be found.  She’s now finding herself getting reaccustomed to the lifestyle to which she’d become accustomed so many years ago.  The fall has not been easy.

I feel bad for Sharon, the same way I feel bad for every NBA or NFL athlete who goes through the same experience.  They say that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.  But this isn’t true when it comes to money:  It’s usually better to have never had the money in the first place than to have it and see it all slip between your fingers.

As a Finance Professor, I think about money a lot.  Also, my grandmother, who was my first finance professor (with no college degree) taught me a few things about money that I hold onto till this day.  In spite of being a single mother who never made more than $25,000 per year, my grandmother always had money, maintained perfect credit, and never had to borrow a dime from anyone.  Here are a few things that my grandmother taught me, that were later confirmed when I got my PhD:

 1) Money is behavioral:  My grandmother used to tell me that if you think like a saver, you’ll always have money.  If you think like a spender, you’ll always be broke. So, the truth is that, no matter how much expertise you have, you must choose to have financial discipline the same way that you choose to eat the right food.  Knowledge means nothing if its not applied, which can effectively turn you into the chubby gym teacher.

2) Always invest and spread your money out:  One big investment is rarely a good one, so that means that putting all of your money into Billy’s Liquor Store or Tiffany’s line of doll houses is usually not a very good  idea.  Most NBA athletes who go broke do so largely because they’ve put a bunch of their money into private equity investments that fail, rather than investing in a diverse portfolio consisting of a variety of asset classes.  If that last sentence didn’t make sense, just talk to your financial adviser and let them handle it for you.  The key here is to not put all your eggs into one basket.

3) Never forget Uncle Sam:  I hope that Sharon, upon winning the lottery, didn’t visualize herself as having $10.5 million to spend.  This is big mistake from the beginning, because we all know that the IRS loves to take your money. Most athletes and entertainers who end up broke usually do so because of some kind of ill-advised tax situation that they knew nothing about.

No one is perfect when it comes to money.  But the fact is that, in the age of information, there is no excuse for being financially illiterate.  As my grandmother taught me, a good dose of common sense and moderation can go a long way when it comes to managing your money.  In fact, I’ll go get some advice from her right now.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and author of the book, “Black American Money”. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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27 Responses to How a Woman Won the $10 Million Dollar Lottery and Now Rides the Bus to Work

  1. Always remember that you are not as rich as you think you are. Always be cautious with money.

    Eric Matterson
    April 9, 2013 at 10:28 pm
    Reply

  2. She won the money in Canada, her home country. Why should she be concerned with the Internal Revenue Service, which is part of the US government?

    Gina
    April 9, 2013 at 10:33 pm
    Reply

    • I’m sure Canada took their fare share! All countries collect taxes, except maybe Greece, which go them into trouble in the first place!

      leh
      April 9, 2013 at 11:14 pm
      Reply

  3. First of all, the money was hers to do as she pleased…

    The problem most people have is no money skills what-so-ever except knowing how to spend…

    In addition, people tend to listen to the perverted catholic when they ask you to finance everything, instead of paying cash or doing without…in her case, she financed a lot of things making these people rich…

    Another problem was her family, trying to be Ms IT with them, and her friends, and new friends…

    Now that the money is gone, so is everyone else, and all of the companies who financed her life has taken back their material things…

    She could dealt with the fake family & friends…but financing everything was the wrong move…

    PB Short
    April 9, 2013 at 10:52 pm
    Reply

  4. LOL My co-worker always said that neither one of us will win because we have a plan how to handle the money, first once you realize you won, disconnect your land and cell phone and buy a burner. Do not, repeat do not tell anyone except the one or two people who you trust with your life and are not down low thieving scheming back stabbing greedy.

    Immediately set up a trust and arrange to get a salary from the trust, if you want to give money to family/friends arrange for your attorney to do it for you and remain anonymous and dont forget to pretend that you got money too from this mysterious person.

    Don’t pick up the money yourself but have your attorney/proxy do it for you. Make sure the person who is your proxy is seriously trust worthy.

    For the first couple of months don’t buy anything. Maybe take a Modest Vacation. Once you feel that you can breath, then start making plans for the money. and remember, never touch the principle spend only the interest.

    addison prescott
    April 10, 2013 at 12:22 am
    Reply

  5. Why are you feeling sorry for this Woman Dr. Boyce she is just like a whole lot of black folk and others who come into a large sum they spend first and never invest don’t put monies away for a rainy day,especially professional atheletes who never save just spend and when their career is over they have nothing and some end up in prison, drug use etc.Like the man that won the power ball a couple of weeks ago what is he doing besides paying back child support??Well he is busy paying everyone on his block rent, while it’s nothing wrong with helping others or giving back take care of business first for you by getting wise council and sound advice from the best Investors putting your money where it’s going too yeild the most for you and bring you peace of mind for the rest of your life and after you have done that than you can see where you may be able to assist others but make sure that you, your spouse, and children if you have any will be taken care and set for life no matter what.

    rosemary davis
    April 10, 2013 at 12:32 am
    Reply

  6. Sometimes you give anonymously to folks, that way they have no expectations from you. People drain you when they know you got some cash.

    Erica
    April 10, 2013 at 12:42 am
    Reply

  7. The handling or mishandling of money has more to do with psychology than know-how. A sudden windfall of money creates a sense of chaos in the life of a person who has no history of having money. This sudden influx creates a chemical imbalance that leads to a high degree of anxiety that most people can’t handle. There are many cliché’s to explain the process; such as “a fish out of water”, “you can take the person out of the country but you can’t take the country of the person”. These people subconsciously feel that they aren’t worthy of this sudden wealth and consequently they develop a mindset that it won’t last and then it becomes a “self-fulfilling prophecy”. They just want their lives to be “normal” again so they spend lavishly and foolishly to rush the process.

    James Alexander
    April 10, 2013 at 1:24 am
    Reply

    • James, well said. You hit the nail on the head…there’s a mindset behind the money. You all enjoy your day :-)! Peace and blessings.

      Dana Michelle
      April 10, 2013 at 11:06 am
      Reply

  8. Give to the ones that were there before the win. All others tell then to kiss you azz

    Tunie
    April 10, 2013 at 2:41 am
    Reply

  9. Sharon’s story is similar to many lotto winners and professional ayhletes. They end up as losers because they simply don’t know what to do with large sums of money. As a result some one usually takes it all from them and disappears.

    P.O.
    April 10, 2013 at 3:02 am
    Reply

  10. No sympathy for her WHATSOEVER!!

    corbin56
    April 10, 2013 at 3:08 am
    Reply

  11. Let’s go back in history.
    There is the classic scene in the movie ” The Spook That Sat Besides the Door ” where the spooks were doing this old civil war slave skit.

    As they went along with the skit one of the spooks say ” I’s would not know what to do wit no money “..

    Well guess that applies today to a whole lot of these so-called rich black people who get access to this paper money with dead slave owners on it.
    ?? Ever wonder why the white controlled media loves to promote how much money a black person?

    While they are reporting the amount,the white handlers are making major plans to get every dime and penny back. It’s the year 2013,the 21st century and ole slavemassa is still tricking and hoodwinking many black people and afrikans world wide.
    Wake up !!!

    Peter D. Slaughter
    April 10, 2013 at 4:18 am
    Reply

  12. All these “touching” stories really get me…we cannot seem to grasp the notion that no matter how much money any one of us has or wins, it won’t be enough. There are roughly seven billion people on the planet, all competing for the same allusive goal – to have an UN GODLY amount of money. No matter how many wives/granddaughter tales we hear, we cannot wait to “buy in” to systems designed to keep you from seeing who you are, where and what you are, since when, and why. Every effort we make to put more “stock” into the fiduciary system, further removes us from our intended purpose(s) as humans. Here’s an example of proof…

    Your GOD (for the believers) didn’t send you through the birth canal with any of your daily baggage, nor will you knowingly leave with any.

    You (we) will never know what our intended purpose is, as long as we are preoccupied with chasing dollars, or being haunted by mr and mrs bill(collector)…(dollar illiteracy?)

    Every dollar investment you make into the system as we think we know it, purchases weapons of some sort of destruction, to be used somewhere, on someone that’s not bought into “our” system. We can deny it to the “high heavens”, but we really don’t know, nor do we want to know where money really comes from, let alone it’s true purpose.

    Woe to the disbeliever, who willfully has forgotten what scripture says about who is custodian of the planet, and for how long? Are we all just “sales representatives” for a destructive industry?

    Lawrence Campbell
    April 10, 2013 at 11:35 am
    Reply

  13. money in and of itself is NOT the key to prosperity. HAVING THE RIGHT MINDSET ABOUT MONEY IS. people are not broke due to lack of cash, but rather the LACK OF THE RIGHT MENTALITY. If you give the average broke person 10 million, and NO DISCIPLINE, OR MANAGEMENT SKILLS, you are not empowering that person. You are only pouring water into a bucket that has a hole in it. For every dollar that black folk desire to spend FLOSSING, we need to spend THREE DOLLARS on safe long term investments that will allow that money to work for you. And truthfully, with modern day access to books, libraries, Internet, and low cost adult education classes reveal that there is NO EXCUSE TO BE IGNORANT about such matters, unless you choose to be. It is the CULTURAL state of reinforced ignorance that DESTROYS US now matter how much money we make.

    M1
    April 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm
    Reply

  14. Most Black people are not financial savy. Had she managed her money before she won the lottery, she would have known how to manage after the fact. This is truly a sad story but I cannot feel sorry for her. Your family can be the worse when it comes to money, she should have given them a flat amount and let them know “that’t it” spend it fast or spend it slow but there will be no more. Had she been smart, she could have lived off of that lottery money the rest of her life. Taxes is a must! Don’t purchase the fancy expensive cars or houses the upkeep on both are expensive, those alone will eat you alive. Maybe this will be a lesson to others, pay yourself first, and that does mean blow it, it means save it!

    Ann G.
    April 10, 2013 at 3:43 pm
    Reply

  15. “White people invest their money–black people buy rims”–Chris Rock

    Codrington C. Dapp
    April 10, 2013 at 4:12 pm
    Reply

  16. Money and a fool cannot stay together or said another way a fool and money will always part.

    Eli Johnson
    April 10, 2013 at 6:22 pm
    Reply

  17. Why are you feeling sorry for this women?, she spent her money as she pleased–right ,wrong or indifferent–It has nothing to do with any kind of sorrow– she has a bike and feet– one god given and the other she purchased she might be happier—- to each his/her own–she and she alone will deal with the consequences—it not like she’s never been broke before—if she was to hit the lottery again for much more money,would you still feel sorry for her? probably not!—-MOVE ON DR. BOYCE!!!! IT’S ONLY LIFE DOING IT’S THING. There is no Right or wrong to this story—POINT BLANK PERIOD—PEACE!!!!

    black jones
    April 10, 2013 at 7:12 pm
    Reply

  18. Gina is right; Sharon Tirabassi the lottery winner does not have to be concerned with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If at all there is concern with her, it has to be with Revenue Canada which is Canada’s Tax department, the IRS has nothing to do with Canada. Fortunately for this lady again (Sharon Tirabassi) the winning lottery price in Canada is not tax at all. So if you win $10.5 Million Canadian dollars, the winner get the full price money with no tax taken at all by Revenue Canada (Canada’s Tax department).
    Not so fast, not this time,I am not going to let her get away with it this time. I am coming up there in Toronto Canada and ask for my own part of the money, you better keep my bus fare lady, because I can’t afford the bus ticket myself. Oh can I borrow your bicycle (bike)? Lol..!
    Peace out..

    Malima
    April 11, 2013 at 2:17 am
    Reply

  19. Pingback: Sharon Tirabassi’s $10 Million Win and Loss | A Black Woman's Reflections on Casino Gambling

  20. I don’t get it…sorry…my bus days would be over if I won the lottery.

    Kim
    April 11, 2013 at 5:29 pm
    Reply

  21. when you put money in the wrong hands it become a weapon and people use it to buy others some times they hurt themselves as well as others believe me some people are better off with out it.

    antoinette sims
    April 11, 2013 at 5:32 pm
    Reply

  22. What are the chances of a person who has never had any extra money being financially savvy?
    About as much as sitting someone with no musical knowledge down at a piano and expecting them to play.
    Schools seldom (if ever) teach our children basic life skills such as personal finance, how to obtain needed services, how to survive in a violent, warmongering, racist, sexist society, how to prepare low-cost, healthy meals (while raising children and working 2 jobs), etc. Personally, the skills that I learned in high school were related to being able to survive in the “working”, corporate world- basically, how to “fit in” by making a lot of money for those who already have a lot of money and somehow manage to keep a few crumbs for myself and my daughters. Oh yeah, and lots of history about this great nation of ours which was almost all lies and political propaganda.

    Maga
    April 12, 2013 at 9:54 pm
    Reply

  23. A hard lesson for sure..but I’m not going to be too hard on her. Having money of course is better than having none, but it certainly brings to mind that you can’t buy people’s affections or trust, at least not for long. You have to fully grounded in who you are and what you’re about so you don’t have to look to externals like money to try to validate yourself.

    wanda
    April 13, 2013 at 3:37 am
    Reply

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