One woman recently turned to GoFundMe in a bid to recover money she lost buying lottery tickets. The fundraising platform didn’t take kindly to the ploy.
The recent Powerball jackpot that reached $1.6 billion did so because—after 19-straight drawings—no one had won the main jackpot, which required a person to match the five pulled numbers and the one Powerball number. The Powerball jackpots typically start in the $100 million range and continue to grow every time there is a drawing that does not produce a winner.
Overall, in 2014, Powerball ticket sales had declined by 19 percent. In order to create more interest in the lottery the Multi-State Lottery Association (MSLA) changed the games’ odds this past fall. The odds of winning before the change were one in 175 million, and after the odds were changed it became one in 292.2 million. This change was made to purposely make the jackpots rise up to much higher levels. Statistically, people who rarely buy a lottery ticket are more likely to make a purchase once the jackpot exceeds $300 million. This is why people were willing to wait for 4 hours and longer in some parts of the country this past Wednesday to purchase tickets.
This mentality was exemplified by a woman from Cordova, Tennessee, known as Cinnamon Nicole. She apparently spent her family’s life savings on Powerball lottery tickets fully expecting to win the $1.6 billion jackpot, regardless of the fact that her chances were 1 in 292.2 million. The odds of winning improve only negligibly when multiple tickets are purchased.
To help offset her lottery losses, Nicole decided to set up a GoFundMe page to solicit donations from the public to help her “plight.” On her GoFundMe page, she put the following information:
“Please help me and my family as we have exhausted all of our funds. We spent all of our money on lottery tickets (expecting to win the 1.5 billion) and are now in dire need of cash. With your small donation of at least $1.00, a like and one share, I’m certain that we will be able to pick ourselves up from the trenches of this lost (sic) and spend another fortune trying to hit it big again! PLEASE, won’t you help a family in need. DONATE NOW.”
GofundMe got wind of this person’s site and shut it down, but it did appear that Nicole had raised just under $1000 during the seven hours the page was live.
Once news of this woman’s plea for financial assistance via GoFundMe came to the attention of more people, comments were made online showing very little support or sympathy for Cinnamon Nicole. One such online comment stated, “An idiot thinking spending all her money on lottery tickets guarantees a big win. Or a cheat if she set up the GoFundMe page in a scheme to get money with a sad story that wasn’t actually true.”
Another online comment stated, “You spent your money on powerball tickets. You knew the odds of winning. They were miniscule. You’d have a better chance of firing a bullet into the air in a random direction and killing a duck. You could have gone to Vegas and had better odds of winning something.”
Regardless of the comments from people who did not agree with Nicole, she still managed to collect over $800 in donations.
According to Snopes.com, CNET spoke to a GoFundMe spokeswoman who, “reported that the referenced $800 had been refunded and hinted at a scam (but not an outright hoax).”
In addition, Kelsea Little, the Media Director at GoFundMe advised PIX11, “The campaign in question was removed for a violation of GoFundMe’s Terms & Conditions.”
The negative publicity surrounding Cinnamon Nicole’s pleas for financial assistance prompted her to reach out to people via Facebook. Nicole posted the following statement on her Facebook page: “Fbf I can’t even like/share anymore… My page is under review!!! I Thank all of you who actually stuck by me and stood up for me, I appreciate it. People are so quick to judge without knowing or even considering anything other than their point of view. But this ain’t no serious post….Continue to bash, scorn/ scandalize my name #ItIsWhatItIs #GoFundMe #YallReallyUpsetThough.”
Nicole’s claims that the GoFundMe page was just a “joke” did not sit too well with Facebook readers. One person wrote, “It’s so sad that people are donating money to the gofundme page of this idiot that spent all their money on last week’s PowerBall. I’m all about helping needy, less fortunate, good hearted people that are down on their luck. But REALLY? Already collected over $800. All the while, good people with common sense, morals, integrity & values have everyday REAL monetary struggles & not because we spent all the money gambling but because we work hard and still can’t make ends meet. Fake or not this makes me so sick.”
The Powerball jackpot was finally won this past Wednesday, and the $1.6 billion will be split by 3 individuals. Amusingly, one of the winners is from Nicole’s state of Tennessee.