Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live—and How Their Wealth Harms Us All

May 4, 2021
Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live—and How Their Wealth Harms Us All

A senior editor at Mother Jones dives into thelives of the extremely rich, showing thefascinating, otherworldly realm they inhabit—and theinsidious ways this realm harms usall.Have you ever fantasized about being ridiculously wealthy?Probably. Striking it rich is among the most resilient of Americanfantasies, surviving war and peace, expansions and recessions,economic meltdowns and global pandemics. We dream of the jackpot,the big exit, the life-altering payday, in whatever form thattakes. (Americans spent $81 billion on lottery tickets in2019, more than the GDPs of most nations.) We would escape"essential" day jobs and cramped living spaces, bury our debts, buythat sweet spread, and bail out struggling friends and relations.But rarely do we follow the fantasy to its conclusion—to ponder thesocial, psychological, and societal downsides of great affluenceand the fact that so few possess it.What is it actually like to be blessed with riches inan era of plagues, political rancor, and near-Dickensian economicdifferences? How mind-boggling are the opportunities and access,how problematic the downsides? Does the experience differ dependingon whether the money is earned or unearned, where it comes from,and whether you are male or female, white or black? Finally, howdoes our collective lust for affluence, and our stubborn belief insocial mobility, explain how we got to the point where fortypercent of Americans have literally no wealth at all?These are all questions that Jackpot sets out toexplore. The result of deep reporting and dozens of interviews withfortunate citizens—company founders and executives, superstarcoders, investors, inheritors, lottery winners, lobbyists,lawmakers, academics, sports agents, wealth and philanthropyprofessionals, concierges, luxury realtors, Bentley dealers, andeven a woman who trains billionaires' nannies in physical combat,Jackpot is a compassionate, character-rich, perverselyhumorous, and ultimately troubling journey into the American wealthfantasy and where it has taken us.