Money for Nothing: One Man’s Journey Through the Dark Side of Lottery Millions — an intriguing title for an intriguing book just out by Edward Ugel. So you like to gamble? Maybe just buy lottery tickets? Reading this non-fiction, astonishing book may be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself. Ugel tells all in his story about his years as both a gambler, and a salesman, and then as an employee of a company that offered upfront cash to lottery winners in exchange for their prize money.
You’ve all seen the commercial for some company that offers cash that is due to you. All of the people cry out from wherever they are that it’s their money and they want it now. If that company, called The Firm, in this book, is one that caters only to lottery winners, however, there are oftentimes millions of dollars involved–and even though the winner may have won big, they may be as poor as ever!
One of the key issues is whether the particular lottery allows a lump sum as opposed to long-term payments. Selection of a lump sum has not always been available. Additionally, when you see the picture of the winner getting a large check with a large sum identified on it, the amount is always the amount before taxes!
Horror story after horror story for lottery winners are shared in this book–all names changed, of course.
Ugel has tried hard to write in an upbeat fashion in telling his story. His chapter titles are catchy. He ridicules some of his own actions and invites the reader to smile and commiserate with his choices. But he’s not really telling about a fun-filled life. The book, in my opinion, is very much an expose’ of this type of financial company, albeit though they are acting legally. Additionally, Ugel’s epilogue, written in a time schedule/diary fashion reveals exactly what the addicted gambler goes through each time he gives in to this vice.
Ugel has been a gambler since the age of 19, working at jobs to earn enough money so he could go gamble. When he was called to a bar by a friend, where a potential supervisor was drinking and smoking, Ugel thought he had finally found the place where he belonged. Indeed, while his boss was there at the The Firm with him, he quickly moved into big money and promotions, each time his boss moved up. But no matter how far up he went, he at last began to hate working with the man and quit, even though he was offered almost twice his present salary to stay. Ugel struggled through the following time, until he was called and asked to return. His former boss had quit and he was being offered his job. This had been what he had always wanted. He believed he could do the job and was soon back at The Firm.
Ugel did all right until his former boss opened his own business as a major competitor and quickly started winning potential customers away from The Firm. Ugel was finally relieved to be fired, for even though he was a super salesman, he realized that he had treated his job, and allowed his subordinates to also treat their jobs, as if each “lead” was merely a “gamble” and since there was always the potential for high commissions without working too hard, he realized that though being a better “gambler” than his former boss, he was not even close to being the kind of manager that his boss had been. As he said, “a gambler is a gambler is a gambler” (p. 212). He and his staff were quite willing to gamble both with their own money…and with the lottery winners’ money!
Many of us have our own addictions. If gambling is yours…read this book! If gambling is not your particular vice, read it…and insert your own predilection. For underneath the humor, Ugel has written a story that just may help you rethink what you are doing, to yourself, to your family, and on your job! Thank you, Edward Ugel, for sharing your life in such an open way and making us realize that Money for Nothing may be more trouble than anyone could imagine!