25 February 2008

Fortune... & Fame??

I watch a few minutes of the morning news and several national anchors announce that they will be interviewing the recent winners of the $270M MegaMillions (lottery) jackpot. So I watch one of these interviews and this couple from the tiny town of Portal, Georgia are shown, via satellite, discussing their win. They sit stone-faced and unsure as they listen to the disembodied voices in their ear phones.

The anchor, in this case, Meredith Viera, asks them questions and they provide simple, honest answers. Yes, husband quit his job as an iron worker and did so politely. Wife says they played their grandchildren's birth dates. No, they don't want to make dramatic changes as they like the life they have for the most part. She does want a Mercedes and he may get a 4-wheel drive vehicle and they may buy a little land and build a different house. They've had some hard times, money-wise, over the last few years and this will really help.

I am happy for these people. And I am sad for these people. I am appalled that they went on NATIONAL TELEVISION and announced that they have more money than god!

Clearly, they are not considering the ramifications. I give it days, maybe just hours, before they are bombarded by people they know and many more people they don't know demanding/begging/wheedling for some of that money. How long before they need a special account at the post office to deal with all the letters coming in? How long before they change their phone number to an unlisted one to get some peace? How long before some nut-job threatens them at gun point or kidnaps one of those grandkids? How long before they have to move out of the town they love because of this simple publicity piece?

It's stuff like this that makes me despair of what the news shows have become. How can they take advantage of these people like this? Sure, on the surface it is that rarest of news items, a happy piece so isn't that a good thing for the public to see? So, the winners are naive enough that they don't know any better and no one has advised them that publicity might not be the best move right now. Does that mean you have them on your show and ruin their lives?! Jeez.

Don Henley said it best in his song "Dirty Laundry"...
I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something-something I can use
People love it when you lose,
They love dirty laundry...

Kick em when they're up
Kick em when they're down
Kick em when they're up
Kick em when they're down
Kick em when they're up
Kick em when they're down
Kick em when they're up
Kick em all around


Brian said...

If history is any indication, then they totally should have ignored all media requests unless doing so was stipulated in the tiny print agreement on the lottery ticket.

I remember watching a 60 Minutes special on this man that won the lottery, a huge amount of money, and it "ruined" his life. Thefts, blown money, family members getting into drugs, it was so very sad. Sure you can say that it won't change you, but when it's that much money I bet it's really hard to really stay humble and maintain your path.

lacochran said...

I totally agree. Thanks for your comment!