Be Careful What You Wish For

Craigory Burch, Jr., a forklift operator from Fitzgerald, GA, deep in the middle of nowhere, at age 20 became the statistical anomaly of a person who wins big in the lottery before he spent a lot of money on it. Last November, he won over $400k in the Georgia lottery, and I’m sure was both very pleased and the subject of celebrity in a town of 9000 residents. But then in January, seven people burst into his home and killed him in front of his girlfriend:

Investigators said Burch’s girlfriend, Jasmine Hendricks, was in the home at the time and ran for help. A shotgun blast blew open the door and three masked, armed men ran in, she said.

“When they came in, he said, ‘Don’t do it, bro. Don’t do it in front of my kids,'” Hendricks recalled. “‘Please don’t do it in front of my kids and old lady. Please don’t do that, bro. Please don’t.’ He said, ‘I’ll give you my bank card.'”

Hendricks said Burch then threw his pants to the robbers, who looked for but couldn’t find his wallet.

Let’s all have a moment of silence for poor Mr. Burch and hope that Ms. Hendricks is coping with the trauma. Let’s also consider the sheer stupidity involved here: the sort of thing that makes it difficult to make a story with this structure into something worth reading. With only 9000 people in the town, it’s not as if the cops are going to have a difficult time figuring out who these murderous clowns were, and of course they didn’t take long, arresting seven people and charging them with Burch’s murder. Small comfort for his kids and Ms. Hendricks.

The second level of stupidity here lies in what they hoped to gain. There’s no way Mr. Burch is keeping $400k lying around his house: it’s in a bank, where it belongs. Even with the ATM card, they weren’t getting much—and now they’re all getting life, mostly without parole. This is dumb, stupid shit, and the only human drama in it is our fictional lottery winner’s dreams, and how they came true and then how they were crushed by murderous clowns.

It’s well-documented that lottery winners tend to go bankrupt: they never had money management skills to begin with, or they wouldn’t’ve played the lottery, or they are decent, generous people who are preyed upon by friends and relatives with can’t-miss business propositions. I’ve often thought that were I to win a giant lottery prize, which I won’t, because I never buy a ticket, I would keep it a deep, dark secret for as long as I could, and put the money in untouchable trusts.

So there’s a way to write the story: our fictional winner could be all happy about it, then buy a bunch of Christmas presents for everyone, then his girlfriend or mother sits him down and urges him to be sensible, and he listens, and he meets with a financial advisor, and makes a plan, and he’s getting ready to go to bed, knowing he’s going to get up in the morning and go sign the papers to lock up his money, and then these murderous clowns show up.

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