Money for Nothing
One Man's Journey Through the Dark Side of Lottery Millions
By Edward Ugel
(HarperBusiness, Hardcover, 9780061284175, 256pp.)
Publication Date: September 2007
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In his wry and funny memoir, Edward Ugel tells the story of America's addiction to the lottery from an astonishing angle.
At age twenty-six, Ed found himself broke, knee-deep in gambling debt, and moving back into his parents' basement. It all changed, however, when he serendipitously landed a job as a salesman for The Firm--a company that offered up-front cash to lottery winners in exchange for their prize money, often paid in agonizingly small annual payments, some lasting up to twenty-five years. For the better part of the ensuing decade, Ed spent his time closing deals with lottery winners, making a lucrative and legitimate--if sometimes not-so-nice--living by taking advantage of their weaknesses . . . weaknesses he knew all too well.
Ed met hundreds of lottery winners and saw up-close the often hilarious, sometime sad outcome when great wealth is dropped on ordinary people. Once lottery winners realized their "dream-come-true" multimillion jackpots were not all that they were cracked up to be, Ed would knock on their door, offering them the cash they wanted-and often desperately need. This cash sometimes came at a high price, but winners were rarely in a position to walk the other way. As Ed learned, few of them had the financial savvy to keep up with the lottery-winner lifestyle. In fact, some just wanted their old lives back.
A charmingly neurotic gambler, Ed traveled deep into the heart of the country where he discovered the American Dream looks a lot like a day at the casino. And Ed knows casinos. In fact, his own taste for gambling gave him a unique insight into lottery winners: he intimately understood their mindset, making it that much easier to relate to them. And like lottery winners, Ed struggled to find balance in his own life as his increasing success earned him a bigger and bigger salary. Even as he relished his accomplishments, he grappled with the question: "If you are good at something that is bad for some people, does that make you a bad person?"
Ed Ugel takes the readers inside the captivating world of lottery winners and shows us how lotteries and gambling have become deeply inscribed in every aspect of American life shaping our image of success and good fortune. Money for Nothing is a witty, wise, and often outrageously funny account of high expectations and easy money.
Ugel, a gambler since age 19, tells a sordid tale of gambling addiction, and we all have much to learn from the author’s important perspective on the proliferation of gambling opportunities. Written in an informal, sometimes humorous manner, this book contains excellent information for library patrons.
“[A] sordid--and highly engaging--tale”
-Wall Street Journal
“For anyone who’s ever dreamed of winning the lottery, this is a terrifying look at what really happens when someone hands you that huge cardboard check. Ugel’s writing style is terrific.”
-Ben Mezrich, New York Times bestselling author of Bringing Down the House and Busting Vegas
“His tale is a colorfully written account by a self-proclaimed overweight, chain-smoking, Krispy Kreme doughnut-eating, fanatical gambler....You will lick your chops, eager to hear the sordid woes of winners gone broke from spending sprees.”
“A breezy, funny writer.... Maybe this eye-opening book will galvanize a movement.... By turns amusing and alarming.”
“Ugel’s natural showmanship makes for entertaining reading. He does little to pretty up his misdeeds (heck, they were legal) and offers comical vignettes of his rendezvous and run-ins with prospective clients while delivering a well-deserved scathing indictment of the government-backed lottery system.”
“A jackpot of sleaze and hilarity”
-The Oregonian (Portland)