4: Easy Come, Easy Go


Why is it that lottery winners are less happy (and, yes, less wealthier in the long term) than the average person? In fact, almost a third of American lottery winners declare bankruptcy, compared to less than 1% of the general population. The explanation has a lot to do with lack of financial management skills (and plenty of ego and taxes) but I feel the fact that you do not have to work for the lottery windfall lends it an air of impermanence. With all the hype that’s come with Sportpesa and betting in Kenya over the last couple of years, I’m yet to hang out with a young person who went, Yo, yo, check out this kaplot that I built with SportPesa mullah. I really think we should do a follow up study profiling past winners of lotteries in Kenya. The results I’d expect to be rather predictable but they’d shock many.

In Gîkûyû we say kîa mwene kîrî ruo, which loosely translates to what belongs to the owner hurts. In other words, you feel it when what you’ve worked hard for goes to waste. Most of us learnt financial discipline from parents who valued the little they had because it literally took hours to make a hundred shillings, the equivalent of a dollar.

I was in a classroom with 10th graders after that Samuel Abisai dude won over 221 million shillings on SportPesa (note how the journalist in the article gets a metaphorical boner over the money). The students had just returned from their holidays and could not stop drooling over the winnings too. Coincidentally, I had designed the CRE (Christian Religious Education) lesson on Jesus’ teachings on material possessions: the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich man, Parable of the Talents, the whole talk about God feeding birds — you know the spiel. I wanted to add some real life elements into the lesson so I included a mini-debate on gambling and sports betting after students learnt about Jesus’ teachings on material wealth. Good Lord, did SportPesa have more fans than Jesus! I took pity on them kids, if they could not listen to Jesus, who would save them? They better be among the 10 people who read this series. Look at me doing the work of the Lord. You out there getting lottery tickets while we outchea winning tickets to heaven. Someone say Amen!

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