Winning the Lottery Can Turn Lefties Into Right-Wingers, Study Finds

Posted on: February 23, 2014, 05:30h. 

Last updated on: February 23, 2014, 04:02h.


Lottery winners UK study political views
Did these 2012  Lottery £45 million EuroMillions jackpot winners change their political views after their win? One study says: probably (Image:

From where, or whom, do we acquire our political leanings? It’s a question that has intrigued us at since we were just another cyber tadpole floating around in the primordial Internet swamp of the mid-1990s. Is it nature, nurture, or could it be a bit of a lottery?

Well, apparently it’s the latter, according to a revealing new Anglo-Australian study of lottery winners, which suggests that the more money you have, the more of a right-wing meanie you might become.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Conservative

Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick Andrew Oswald claimed this month that after interviewing a sample size of many hundreds of individuals who had received significant lottery windfalls, his study found that “the larger their lottery win, the greater is that person’s subsequent tendency, after controlling for other influences, to switch their political views from left to right.

Lottery winners,” he added, “are also more sympathetic to the belief that ordinary people ‘already get their fair share of society’s wealth’.”

Crucially, the study was able to observe people before and after their wins. Drawing on an existing study – in which a large cross-section of the British population was questioned annually about  their political views – researchers were able to isolate 541 lottery winners from that sample size with windfalls larger than £500 ($833) and all the way up to £200,000 ($333,319), and observe subsequent changes in the winners’ political persuasions.

One reason this is important,” explained Professor Oswald, “is because it seems plausible that personality might determine both the number of lottery tickets bought and the political attitudes of the person, and this might thereby lead to a possible spurious association between winning and right-leaning views. We provide, among other kinds of evidence, a simple graphical demonstration that winners disproportionately lean to the right having previously not been right-wing supporters.”

Which Came First, the Leanings or the Nest Egg?

While it may be common knowledge that the rich tend to lean to the right – just look at Sheldon Adelson – there was always a question mark about whether people who are right-leaning just tend to make more money, or whether it’s the money itself that actually causes people to become more right wing-oriented. However, this study actually claims to prove that a windfall as low as £500 can have a profound effect on a person’s political leanings and even prompt that person to switch from left to right at the flick of a switch. 

But are we really that fickle? Well, probably yes. If politicians paid us all 500 English pounds (or about $833 USD) – and by “us” we mean every person of voting age on the planet – we’d probably at least consider (re-)electing them. 

Meanwhile, the last word goes to the prof: “The consequences of winning even a modest sum of money are fairly large – certainly a number of percentage points extra on your chances of favouring a Mrs. Thatcher or a Ronald Reagan. Thus money makes people right-wing and inegalitarian. Perhaps even you.”

Who us?