Synopses & Reviews
In his wry and funny memoir, Edward Ugel tells the story of America's addiction to the lottery from an astonishing angle.
At age twenty-six, Ed found himself broke, knee-deep in gambling debt, and moving back into his parents' basement. It all changed, however, when he serendipitously 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 twenty-five years. For the better part of the ensuing decade, Ed 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 he knew all too well.
Ed met hundreds of lottery winners and saw up-close the often hilarious, sometime sad outcome when great wealth is dropped on ordinary people. Once lottery winners realized their "dream-come-true" multimillion jackpots were not all that they were cracked up to be,
Ed would knock on their door, offering them the cash they wanted-and often desperately need. This cash sometimes came at a high price, but winners were rarely in a position to walk the other way. As Ed learned, few of them had the financial savvy to keep up with the
lottery-winner lifestyle. In fact, some just wanted their old lives back.
A charmingly neurotic gambler, Ed traveled deep into the heart of the country where he discovered the American Dream looks a lot like a day at the casino. And Ed knows casinos. In fact, his own taste for gambling gave him a unique insight into lottery winners: he intimately understood their mindset, making it that much easier to relate to them. And like lottery winners, Ed struggled to find balance in his own life as his increasing success earned him a bigger and bigger salary. Even as he relished his accomplishments, he grappled with the question: "If you are good at something that is bad for some people, does that make you a bad person?"
Ed Ugel takes the readers inside the captivating world of lottery winners and shows us how lotteries and gambling have become deeply inscribed in every aspect of American life shaping our image of success and good fortune. Money for Nothing is a witty, wise,
and often outrageously funny account of high expectations and easy money.
"Money for Nothing took me into a world I had no idea existed. For anyone who's ever dreamed of winning the lottery, this is a terrifying look at what really happens when someone hands you that huge cardboard check. Ugel's writing style is terrific, and anyone who's ever found himself sobbing into a scotch glass at a casino at three in the morning is going to identify with the highs and lows of this compelling story." Ben Mezrich, author of Bringing Down the House
"Ugel's natural showmanship makes for entertaining reading. He does little to pretty up his misdeeds...and offers comical vignettes of his rendezvous and run-ins with prospective clients while delivering a well-deserved scathing indictment of the government-backed lottery system." Library Journal
"By turns amusing and alarming." Kirkus Reviews
"Ugel...tells a sordid tale of gambling addiction, and we all have much to learn from the author's important perspective on the proliferation of gambling opportunities. Written in an informal, sometimes humorous manner, this book contains excellent information." Booklist
"Money for Nothing alternates sleaze and hilarity, exploits and exploitation....Ugel's portraits of the winners losing to The Firm are stunning in audacity. His accounts of a life in sales are at once addictive and depressing much like gambling itself." Oregonian
"Mr. Ugel's roller-coaster ride makes for dizzying, sometimes harrowing reading." New York Times
"His tale is a colorfully written account by a self-proclaimed overweight, chain-smoking, Krispy Kreme doughnut-eating, fanatical gambler....You will lick your chops, eager to hear the sordid woes of winners gone broke from spending sprees." USA Today
"Ugel's outrageous and often very funny account of the years he spent gouging lottery winners for whatever he could take." New York Daily News
"An added twist to Mr. Ugel's sordid...tale is the fact that he was himself a compulsive gambler. So while he was encouraging lottery winners to sell him their checks at a discount, his commissions were disappearing at the tables in Atlantic City and Las Vegas." Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Sales and marketing expert Edward Ugel spent his late twenties and early thirties working among the nation's most infamous lottery winners and gamblers in the high-stakes lump sum industry. He writes for the Huffington Post and has also written for the New York Times and contributed to PRI's This American Life.