#186. Losing the Lottery

Stuff Black People Don’t Like, October 18, 2009

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It must be said, Black people love the idea of instant gratification. Take for instance Black athletes who hit the genetic lottery jackpot and make it to professional sports. Seven figures or more quickly pouring into a newly created bank account makes for an impressive trip to the strip club for a joyful–yet soon to be dolorous–session of “Making it Rain”.

Yet, Black people find these avarice-induced downpours of Benjamins an expensive deluge of momentary monetary showering, for money only begets more money when it is put into a savings account and not into the G-String of some random girl:

“Via Half Sigma, we learn the factoid that 3 out of 5 former pro basketball players are broke within a half decade of being out of the game. The typical NBA player makes millions of dollars and has a two digit IQ. That’s a recipe for trouble–both overspending and getting scammed by advisors.”

Sports Illustrated, the magazine that is for Black people what Popular Mechanics is for white people, recently ran an interesting article that talked about How Athletes Go Broke. If you read between the lines, the article is largely about Black people in athletics who after winning the genetic lottery go out and splurge with the fervor of a sixteen-year-old girl with her daddy’s credit card:

“What happens to many athletes and their money is indeed hard to believe. In this month alone Saints alltime leading rusher Deuce McAllister filed for bankruptcy protection for the Jackson, Miss., car dealership he owns; Panthers receiver Muhsin Muhammad put his mansion in Charlotte up for sale on eBay a month after news broke that his entertainment company was being sued by Wachovia Bank for overdue credit-card payments; and penniless former NFL running back Travis Henry was jailed for nonpayment of child support.

In a less public way, other athletes from the nation’s three biggest and most profitable leagues–the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball–are suffering from a financial pandemic. Although salaries have risen steadily during the last three decades, reports from a host of sources (athletes, players’ associations, agents and financial advisers) indicate that:

* By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

* Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.

Does pointing out this unpleasant of financial irresponsibility strike SBPDL as utilizing Hate Facts to make a point? {snip}

Only seven states in the nation don’t have lotteries, as the prospect of quick millions is an enticing idea entertained by millions of people who hope to duplicate the spending capabilities of pro athletes whom they enjoy spending vast times watching on television.

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A recent study conducted at the University of Georgia discussed the HOPE Scholarship–created through lottery revenue for Georgia students to go to college in the state for free–and brought forth some interesting data:

Third, lottery play is heaviest among African Americans (National Gambling Impact Study Commission 1999, p. 3-4). Clotfelter (1979), Clotfelter and Cook (1987),Borg and Mason (1988), Hansen (1995) and Price and Novak (2000) all argued that lottery expenditures are disproportionately higher for African Americans than for whites.

Stranahan and Borg (1998) argued that although African Americans were not more likely to play than whites, conditioned on playing, they spend much more on lottery tickets than whites.

. . . shows that lottery sales per capita are much larger in counties with a large share of African Americans than with a small share. The bottom three quintiles spend $201, $201 and $200 per person, per year on lottery tickets, which contrasts sharply with the upper two quintiles (over 36.1% black) that spend $250 and $402 per person on lottery tickets. The quintile with the largest share of African Americans purchases lottery tickets at twice the rate of those in the lowest three quintiles.”

So Black people trying to get rich quick–who weren’t blessed with athletic skills or who spent on the money they earned thanks to those athletic skills–purchase an inordinate amount of lottery tickets, thereby allowing white people to attend school for free:

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“Once you decide you’re going to fund public activities with a lottery, you are going to be funding them on the backs of people who tend to be lower income and people with less education, which in the South also means disproportionately black,” says Christopher Cornwell, a professor at UGA’s Terry College of Business who’s extensively studied HOPE. “That’s just a reality.”

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Among other things, the results showed:

–Blacks made up 19.7 percent of the state’s adult population but accounted for 23.2 percent of lottery players and 38.4 percent of frequent players.

–People in households earning under $40,000 accounted for 28 percent of the state’s population, 31.3 percent of lottery players and 53.4 percent of frequent players.

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–People who said they have no Internet access made up 29.6 percent of the total population, 30.2 percent of lottery players and 41.1 percent of frequent players.

Asked for his explanation of those statistics, Passailaigue [Ernie Passailaigue, lottery director of South Carolina] said in an interview last week, “There are certain traditional lottery games that are offered that appeal more to minority populations, and those are specifically the three-digit game and the four-digit game.”

Drawings are held daily in Pick 3 and Pick 4 games. The winning numbers in daily games often are used as the basis for illegal gambling, Passailaigue said.

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South Carolina’s 2008 lottery study showed that more than 50 percent of Pick 3 and Pick 4 players were black.

Dale Charles, president of the Arkansas branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he believed Passailaigue’s assessment was far from accurate. The state lottery director does not want to admit the real reason why blacks play the lottery frequently, Charles said.

“The reason why black people play it is because they are trying to make their lives better for themselves and their families,” Charles said. “But they are failing to realize (the) chances of winning aren’t so great. We think, ‘This is going to be the time,’ and we get hooked on it and we just keep playing and keep playing and keep playing until it becomes an addiction.”

Black people want to be rich, and instead of long-term wealth creation an epidemic of short-term financial growth strategy permeates throughout the Black community, well, everywhere the lottery is played (even in Obama’s Chicago):

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Predominantly African American or Latino, low-income Chicago communities have generated the highest lottery sales in the state, shows an analysis of Illinois Lottery records since 1997 by The Chicago Reporter. In addition, residents in these communities spent a higher portion of their incomes on the lottery than people in more affluent areas. And despite the state’s recent economic downturn, lottery spending has increased, the Reporter found.

In the South Side’s 60619 ZIP code area, lottery players spent more than $23 million on lottery tickets in fiscal year 2002, more than any other ZIP code in the state, according to lottery sales records. The 60619 area includes parts of the predominantly black neighborhoods of Chatham, Avalon Park, Burnside and Calumet Heights.”

So, it seems the data overwhelming highlights yet another Hate Fact that few will admit is important to discuss, for instant gratification affects one community more than others. Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes losing the lottery, for the reality is that Black people play the lottery more than other races, and though they lose, they keep playing the lottery in a game that even Sisyphus wouldn’t try, even if the Gods ordained him too.

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