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Money for Nothing: One Man's Journey Through the Dark Side of Lottery Millions

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3.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  261 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews

For the better part of a decade, Edward Ugel 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 that, as a gambler himself, he knew all too well.

In Money for Nothing, he explores the captivating world of lottery winners and shows us how lotteries and

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MP3 CD, 1 page
Published March 1st 2009 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published September 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 441)
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Mimi Rowntree
Jun 25, 2008 Mimi Rowntree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is funny and insightful and an emotional roller coaster. The language was too strong for me in places, despite the seedy nature of the subject matter. It was appropriate to the book but not to my sensibilities. Because of the prolific use of the *f* word I cannot give it 5 stars, but I did like the book as a whole. I wish there were an R rating for books. This book would recieve one for the language and there are maybe three crude sexual references. It really did give a lot of insight ...more
Karen
Jun 15, 2008 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lottery winners in particular! Beware!
I knew absolutely nothing about the lump sum lottery financing business but my eyes are open now. The author's writing style is absolutely hilarious as he reveals the secrets of working with lottery winners to provide them with much needed cash by buying their annuities at a huge financial gain to himself and his Firm. The salesmanship, the deception, the greed of the salesman, most of whom are also gamblers, versus the oddities of the lottery winner, most of whom are cash strapped waiting for t ...more
Nancy
Apr 14, 2008 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard the author in a radio interview, and so read the book. Edward Ugel worked for the "lump sum industry", making a living getting lottery winners to sell their tickets for a price. The Firm took a huge cut, the lottery winner got quick cash (instead of having to wait for a future check), and the Firm's salesman went looking for a new lottery winner. To be a salesman in the business one had to be a bit of a gambler. To sell the deal to the lottery winner took guts. It is a world I could hard ...more
Ruanne
May 21, 2008 Ruanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellently funny, because of the author's writing style & perspective- the topic is not inherently funny Ugel worked for an outfit that buys lottery winners' annuities when they almost inevitably find that they need cash on hand before their next payment. It's not a good deal for the lottery winner, but they are pretty much strapped. Ugel is hilarious, and the topis is one I knew nothing about. He touches on other forms of gambling a bit too, such as his little problem with video poker mach ...more
Ray Charbonneau
More of a salesman's memoirs than the interesting study of lotteries and their winners that's promised on the book jacket.
Elaine Meszaros
Dec 03, 2014 Elaine Meszaros rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a bit sad how many Americans use the phrase "when I win the lottery…" before expressing a dream or desire. What is surprising is how many people do win the lottery - and what a lousy deal it often is. Many states don't allow lump-sum payments. They instead give winners a pay-out over years and even decades - with no interest. While many people will think "Hell, I'll take a steady $70,000 a year for the next 20 years" it doesn't usually work this way. Winners blow through their money, and m ...more
David
Aug 24, 2009 David rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn't a total disaster-but close. There are occasional sales tips in the book.

The book didn't get into the mind of lottery winners. It didn't tell many stories of them. It more or less described the authors ascent at the Firm, and how good he was at selling.

The subject of lottery winners, and the industries that cater to them, seems fascinating. Unfortunately, this book didn't cover much of that at all. Finally, in order to protect his/the firm's anonymity, the author didn't delve int
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Nancy
Nov 08, 2007 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has ever dreamed of winning the lottery
There is an industry out there that I never knew existed, called the lump-sum finance industry. Basically, salespeople approach people who are receiving annual payments, usually for winning the lottery, who are also strapped for ready cash. They buy the lottery winner's annuity (or a portion of it) for a fraction of what the annuity is actually worth and then re-sell it. Ed Ugel was a top salesman in the industry for 7 years. He talks about his experiences with honesty and humor. Quite fascinati ...more
Philip Cosand
This books reaffirms what we all know already. If you win the lottery, everyone will want your money.

Specifically, there are companies that exist to advance lottery winners cash when they run out before their next payment. The bigger the lottery winner, the bigger the salesman's commission. It is legal, it is big money, but it isn't for the "nice".

The reason the book is enjoyable is that the author is quick to point out the flaws in himself; more so than those around him. He doesn't make excuses
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Missy Chase
Feb 12, 2008 Missy Chase rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book I view the lottery and lottery winners in a different way. Not only does this book describe the shady buy-out sharks, but how unlucky lottery winners can become. (and as an aside, as soon as i finished this book I started to see commercials on TV for the "firms" referenced in the book!)
Foster
Jun 15, 2010 Foster rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was hoping for about lottery winners. What I got was a navel-gazing, self-indulgent bunch of drivel, written by a total loser. I quit after about 40 pages, and that was 39 pages too late.
Margot
Nov 01, 2007 Margot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
This was a really interesting book to me about lottery winners, gamblers and salesmen. It was a fast read but there were parts where I actually laughed out loud.
Eric
Feb 17, 2008 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
funny writer. Ugel had an insane job and tells about it in great detail. He reminds me of David Sedaris.
David
Dec 19, 2007 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating read into the miserable lives of lottery winners and the scum who prey on them
Harit
Apr 15, 2009 Harit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up the book because I wanted to find out more about the gambling industry as I know little to nothing about it. An insider's view sounded good. But the book turned out to be more of a confessional than informative.

The book is about the lottery lumpsum purchase business. When you win a lottery, you can elect to get annual payments of a certain fraction for a period of time. Often, the winners start going broke midway through the period and want to sell the remaining payments for a one-ti
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Jordan
Jul 26, 2011 Jordan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memiors

Everyone loves the idea of winning the lotto and beginning their carefree new life. This is the reason I read this book. The reality is not so peachy and the author tells a tale about his own metioric rise in the world of buying annuities from lotto winners. So he's a college grad with few prospects living beer to beer. He has a degree that is useless in the real world and thus begins working as a bartender. Soon he sees the fruitless path he is on and moves back home with his parents. One night
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Jerry Smith
Ugel writes in his usual entertaining way and follows the style of writing that tells a very personal account to illustrate a broader (if not necessarily terribly profound point). In this case it is the profession of buying lottery winners annuities for a lump sum payment.

His story if interesting in and of itself but this wasn't the main point of interest and I felt he could have illustrated his tales with more examples of the typical lottery winner and how/why they often end up broke and/or wi
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Chris Ramsey
Interesting bits of facts into the reality of winnings and what all it entails. I guess, in a way, and I'm sure it's related to non-disclosure agreements signed by the author regarding his former employer, I would have loved to know exact figures. I felt like I could have gotten my head around how profitable an industry lottery "paper" essentially was if I could see the real numbers. It would have also given me a feel for how much the end consumer was losing or "being taken for" with each and ev ...more
Melissa
The first third of the book is the best - Ed goes into the history of the American lottery and its role in society. I also liked the profiles of actual lottery winners. The rest of the book is more of a salesman memoir. Interesting at times but the sections in his personal gambling problems get a little long.
Alex
This memoir about the lottery-winner-milking industry conveys a fair amount of fascinating sociological/financial info along with Ugel's energetic personal history. The book suffers a little from Ugel's fear of being sued for breaching his non-disclosure agreements with the Firm--many more factual details about actual lottery winner cases and amounts and Firm paychecks would have been welcome.

This is an odd type of whistleblower's story wherein the whistleblower has already been paid millions n
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Jane
I enjoyed listening to this. Nothing amazing but I found it interesting learning about this lottery lump sum buyout business. Yes it's a crummy business; They offer desperate lottery winners a discounted lump payment in echange for their annual payments. But he was very forthcoming with the seedy nature of the business and his self deprecating humor made him less objectionable. The profanity didn't really bother me either. I liked hearing about the unusual lottery winners and I was intrigued by ...more
Jjudyfl
Nov 13, 2013 Jjudyfl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What happens when you win a lottery and the money is tied up in an annuity? You might overspend what you don't yet have in your hand. Banks apparently don't touch these arrangements. What can you do?
You just might turn to someone like this author, who will "jovially" buy you out of your "arrangement." - at a HUGE cost. (that is spelled H - U - G - E!!!)
This is an amazing book I found utterly fascinating. There are many stories about winners from all walks of life, under various financial stresse
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Steve
Oct 20, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. Funny. Witty. Insightful, especially about the lottery industry, sales process and gambling addiction. Well done.
Harvey
Jul 12, 2015 Harvey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
- the so-so memoir of Ed Ugel who, when he was a 26 year old gambling addict moving back into his parent's basement, 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 25 years
- too much information about Ed, and not enough about the lottery winners who couldn't handle their winnings
- although he didn't work with them, some stories of lottery win
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Jeannie
Feb 03, 2016 Jeannie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up hoping to read about lottery winners and found something totally different which did not interest me in the least. It was hard just to finish reading it.
Heather
Stories about individual lottery winners and their lifestyles were interesting. Also enjoyed learning about how the lottery industry and prize purchase industry works. In one story, a winner's jackpot won was $2,000,000. This was paid to he winner in annual payments of $100,000 for 20 years. The winners are not the best at managing these annual payments or budgeting for long term considerations. I was turned off by the authors teenage boy language and talk of women and sex. Makes me think he's v ...more
Daryl
Feb 18, 2008 Daryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this book more for research than for fun.

While it made for a somewhat interesting case study, I would not recommend as a pleasure read. It is a good book if you need more reasons NOT to play the lottery. The author was extremely effective painting a sad picture of lottery winners, salesman, and gambling addicts. He also made some fascinating points about state governments and lotteries.

I am not sure of the point of the epilogue except to highlight the strict contrast of how the author and
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Heidi Archer
I had no idea the lump sum lottery industry existed before i heard Edward on "This American Life." Wanted to know more. A funny and at times sad read. The traits he recognizes as present in himself and other salespeople he worked with and the lottery winners he made deals with showed, to me, a level of self-reflection that I usually find intriguing.
Alex Allain
Hard to put down, and easy to read; this book's main appeal is the view of the culture in a sales-driven organization. The stories about lottery winners are interesting, but there aren't as many as you might expect.

Unfortunately, the lottery history section of the book is only mildly interesting and the author is too self-absorbed. As the book goes on, you become more and more annoyed with the author's focus on his own life story and his own poor decision making.
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