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

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A senior editor at Mother Jones dives into the lives of the extremely rich, showing the fascinating, otherworldly realm they inhabit—and the insidious ways this realm harms us all. Have you ever fantasized about being ridiculously wealthy? Probably. Striking it rich is among the most resilient of American fantasies, surviving war and peace, expansions and recessions, econom A senior editor at Mother Jones dives into the lives of the extremely rich, showing the fascinating, otherworldly realm they inhabit—and the insidious ways this realm harms us all. Have you ever fantasized about being ridiculously wealthy? Probably. Striking it rich is among the most resilient of American fantasies, 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 that takes. (Americans spent $81 billion on lottery tickets in 2019, more than the GDPs of most nations.) We would escape “essential” day jobs and cramped living spaces, bury our debts, buy that sweet spread, and bail out struggling friends and relations. But rarely do we follow the fantasy to its conclusion—to ponder the social, psychological, and societal downsides of great affluence and the fact that so few possess it. What is it actually like to be blessed with riches in an era of plagues, political rancor, and near-Dickensian economic differences? How mind-boggling are the opportunities and access, how problematic the downsides? Does the experience differ depending on whether the money is earned or unearned, where it comes from, and whether you are male or female, white or black? Finally, how does our collective lust for affluence, and our stubborn belief in social mobility, explain how we got to the point where forty percent of Americans have literally no wealth at all? These are all questions that Jackpot sets out to explore. The result of deep reporting and dozens of interviews with fortunate citizens—company founders and executives, superstar coders, investors, inheritors, lottery winners, lobbyists, lawmakers, academics, sports agents, wealth and philanthropy professionals, concierges, luxury realtors, Bentley dealers, and even a woman who trains billionaires’ nannies in physical combat, Jackpot is a compassionate, character-rich, perversely humorous, and ultimately troubling journey into the American wealth fantasy and where it has taken us.


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A senior editor at Mother Jones dives into the lives of the extremely rich, showing the fascinating, otherworldly realm they inhabit—and the insidious ways this realm harms us all. Have you ever fantasized about being ridiculously wealthy? Probably. Striking it rich is among the most resilient of American fantasies, surviving war and peace, expansions and recessions, econom A senior editor at Mother Jones dives into the lives of the extremely rich, showing the fascinating, otherworldly realm they inhabit—and the insidious ways this realm harms us all. Have you ever fantasized about being ridiculously wealthy? Probably. Striking it rich is among the most resilient of American fantasies, 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 that takes. (Americans spent $81 billion on lottery tickets in 2019, more than the GDPs of most nations.) We would escape “essential” day jobs and cramped living spaces, bury our debts, buy that sweet spread, and bail out struggling friends and relations. But rarely do we follow the fantasy to its conclusion—to ponder the social, psychological, and societal downsides of great affluence and the fact that so few possess it. What is it actually like to be blessed with riches in an era of plagues, political rancor, and near-Dickensian economic differences? How mind-boggling are the opportunities and access, how problematic the downsides? Does the experience differ depending on whether the money is earned or unearned, where it comes from, and whether you are male or female, white or black? Finally, how does our collective lust for affluence, and our stubborn belief in social mobility, explain how we got to the point where forty percent of Americans have literally no wealth at all? These are all questions that Jackpot sets out to explore. The result of deep reporting and dozens of interviews with fortunate citizens—company founders and executives, superstar coders, investors, inheritors, lottery winners, lobbyists, lawmakers, academics, sports agents, wealth and philanthropy professionals, concierges, luxury realtors, Bentley dealers, and even a woman who trains billionaires’ nannies in physical combat, Jackpot is a compassionate, character-rich, perversely humorous, and ultimately troubling journey into the American wealth fantasy and where it has taken us.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    Back in 1996, a book entitled The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko hit the bestseller lists. The two authors demonstrated that owning a small business such as a dry cleaners or a neighborhood grocery, for example, might over time make its frugal owners into “millionaires.” The term “top 1%” wasn’t yet in common use, but the implication was those people qualified. Stanley and Danko seemed to mean that anyone who had accumulated assets totaling more than $1 million w Back in 1996, a book entitled The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko hit the bestseller lists. The two authors demonstrated that owning a small business such as a dry cleaners or a neighborhood grocery, for example, might over time make its frugal owners into “millionaires.” The term “top 1%” wasn’t yet in common use, but the implication was those people qualified. Stanley and Danko seemed to mean that anyone who had accumulated assets totaling more than $1 million was therefore a millionaire and rich. But how naive we were to think such a thing! The top 1% isn’t who you think Today, holding assets of $1 million doesn’t even qualify an American for the top 10% financially, let alone the top 1%. That requires a minimum of $11 million in assets. In 2018, there was a total of 539,000 US households with an income of more than one $1 million per year. They numbered about 0.3% of the American population. But the real wealth in our society is in the hands of the top 0.001%—and those people, we learn in Michael Mechanic’s fascinating new book, Jackpot, are rich beyond comprehension. As of 2020, it took at least $2.1 billion to make the cut for the Forbes 400. And collectively those 400 households possessed a total of $3.2 trillion. Who’s really, really rich today For a reality check, tune into the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List. Here are just the top five people—remember, these are people, not companies—on the list as of May 4, 2021. Rank Name Net Worth Source Country 1 Jeff Bezos $193.2 billion Amazon USA 2 Bernard Arnault & family $180.1 billion LVMH France 3 Elon Musk $166.2 billion Tesla, SpaceX USA 4 Bill Gates $130.4 billion Microsoft USA 5 Mark Zuckerberg $115.4 billion Facebook USA Note that, as I write, there are three other men, all Americans—Warren Buffet (Berkshire-Hathaway), Larry Ellison (Oracle), and Larry Page (Google)—with net worth north of $100 billion. These people aren’t just rich. Even filthy rich doesn’t begin to convey the power they possess through such unfathomable wealth. “Top 1%?” Hah! Go to that Forbes site, and you’ll probably find the numbers, and perhaps even the rankings, are a little different. Much of what’s portrayed here is paper wealth, simply the reflection of current stock market values for companies such as Amazon, Tesla, Microsoft, and Facebook. The market’s volatility may inflate or deflate these fortunes, but they’re real nonetheless. Even 1% of Jeff Bezos’ $193.2 billion today would still be nearly two billion dollars. But, stock market volatility notwithstanding, it’s not just the rich who are getting richer, Mechanic points out. “The insanely rich are getting insanely richer.” Yet when Michael Mechanic set out to convey what it’s like to be really, really rich in America today, he didn’t turn to these people. They’re virtually unreachable. He spoke instead with some of those who help them make more money or sell them goods and services. And he turned to those whom the centibillionaires might consider pikers. “When we hear the term ‘rich people,’ Mechanic writes, “we tend to think more about the top 0.1 percent, families with assets of $29.4 million and up,” or five times as much as the minimum to qualify for the top 1%. “This is the realm of elite private schools, private travel, stunning houses, extraordinary vacations (and vacation properties), luxury cars, and concierge doctors.” The United States, he reports, “boasts more than 32 percent”—over 90,000—of these ultra-high-net-worth people on the planet, even though we house only about 4% of the population. Pursuing “America’s jackpot winners” In researching this book, Mechanic spent little time speaking with people in what Senator Bernie Sanders has called the “billionaire class.” (Mechanic sometimes refers to them as “America’s jackpot winners” or “the three-comma club.”) He gained insight on their lives through those who sell them $100 million houses or provide services such as security at $1.5 million per year, ultra-sophisticated financial management, philanthropic advice, and investigative dating services. He also consulted economists at UC Berkeley and Harvard researching extreme wealth. Little wonder. “With few exceptions,” he writes, “every time I reached out to someone worth more than a couple hundred million dollars, even when I had a trustworthy introduction, that person’s entourage intervened with pre-interviews and rejections.” But Mechanic did speak, sometimes in great depth, with a number of those he calls “ultra-wealthy.” Living the life of the ultra-rich In Jackpot, Mechanic strives to convey a sense of what it’s like to live the life of the ultra-rich, the top 0.1%. Multiple homes in exclusive neighborhoods scattered about the planet. Private jets, massive yachts, and fleets of hideously expensive automobiles. Ability to pick up the phone and call almost anyone on Earth. But he emphasizes, as do so many of his subjects, the downside as well. Ever-present need for security. Endless requests for money. Constant preoccupation with the management of investments even if the scutwork is delegated to armies of advisors. And the loss of connection with anyone outside their tiny, privileged class. Four individuals stand out among those the author interviewed for this book. Jerry Fiddler Entrepreneur Jerry Fiddler talks “about the rungs of the economic ladder being stretched so far apart that people can barely contemplate the next rung. ‘I think the public impression of the [top 1%] is really the 0.001 percent. . . I mean, they’re seeing Kochs and Buffetts and Gates. They’re seeing them as the 1 percent and they’re really not. The gap between me and them is probably larger in a lot of ways than between . . . most people and me.” And Fiddler has amassed a fortune that appears to be in the hundreds of millions. As he explains to the author, possessing a fortune enables him to command far larger returns from the market than are available to the average investor. “‘To take your entire asset base and grow it by 7 percent a year, very few people could do that. Whereas I probably could.” Centibillionaires most assuredly do so. But even most of those in the top 1% can’t do so. Because the hedge funds and other investment vehicles that earn such out-of-control returns often require $50 million, $100 million, or more as a minimum. Tracy Gary Philanthropic advisor Tracy Gary‘s “mother and stepfather amassed vast resources—hundreds of millions in today’s dollars. They had a private jet, a helicopter, a yellow Rolls-Royce, and estates in Florida, Minnesota, New York, Wisconsin, and Paris, each with its own staff.” But Tracy wants none of it. She is one of the most prolific philanthropic advisers in the business, having founded several organizations dedicated to redirecting resources toward addressing the problems of the poor. She “encourages her clients to give away as much of their money as they can stomach, but not to Stanford or Yale or other institutions with massive endowments: ‘Please diversify,’ she says, and give to social justice organizations.'” Darren Walker Ford Foundation President Darren Walker “grew up penniless in rural Texas and went on to become an icon in the world of philanthropy. As an African-American, he speaks with special insight into white privilege and regularly encounters “extraordinarily wealthy white men who are unwilling to acknowledge their advantages.” The stereotypical claim by America’s wealthiest is that they “worked hard for their money,” implying that people who are poor do not. And that, of course, is an ugly insult for the millions who work two or three jobs just to keep food on the table or pay the rent. And Walker notes how few rich Black people there are. “‘If we’re going to have a capitalist system, we should have one where the opportunity to reap the rewards are open to all. And we know our system has never been open. It was designed on the backs of slaves.'” Nick Hanauer Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer‘s Twitter profile declares that he is “NOT a billionaire.” Ultra-wealthy, to be sure, but with a fortune south of a billion. Top 1%? No. Most likely, the top 0.01%. And he’s critical of those who do command billions but abdicate their responsibility to society at large. As a consequence, he insists, the revolution isn’t coming in the future. It’s already here. “‘Trumpism is pitchforks. . . The dissolution of democratic norms. Increase in racism, xenophobia. The fundamental destabilization of society. The erosion of social cohesion. You’re experiencing it!'” At the root of the inequality: greed “Greed has always been one of the primary drivers of the American story,” Mechanic writes. “It fueled the genocide and seizure of land from Native Americans, made slavery a hereditary institution, and gave rise to our system of mass incarceration. It turned Florida from a malarial swamp into a vacation getaway during the 1920s, built the Las Vegas Strip, and compelled Wall Street wonks to invent the collateralized debt obligations and other opaque financial instruments that tanked the U.S. economy in 2008. . . It gave us Michael Milken and junk bonds, the dot-com boom, the Bitcoin roller coaster, Bernie Madoff, and the college admissions scandal.” And one way or another the system greed has forged will eventually come to an end. A different perspective on wealth I came across an intriguing article in the San Francisco Chronicle (May 15, 2021) entitled “What’s needed to feel wealthy in Bay Area?” by Kellie Hwang and Nami Sumida. (The article appeared online a day earlier under a slightly different title.) Here’s the gist of it: “Respondents to the 2021 Modern Wealth Survey from Charles Schwab said it takes an average net worth of $3.8 million to be wealthy in the Bay Area, down from $4.5 million in 2020. If you’re just aiming for “financial happiness,” that carries a price tag of $1.8 million in 2021, compared with $2.1 million in 2020. A mere $1.3 million is enough to make you “financially comfortable” in 2021, versus $1.5 million in 2020, according to the survey responses.” In other words, you don’t have to qualify for the top 1% to feel rich. Interesting, no? So, that 1996 book I wrote about above might not have been so far off the mark, after all. Even if Jeff Bezos’ net worth is 148,615 times as large as that $1.3 million. Note that those numbers hold for the San Francisco Bay Area, which is by far the most expensive metro area in the country. In New York, for example, $997,000 would be enough to make a family “financially comfortable,” according to the Schwab survey. About the author It would appear that Michael Mechanic is not a member of the top 1%. From the author’s bio on the Mother Jones website: “Prior to MoJo, he was longtime managing editor for the weekly East Bay Express and a reporter and editor for other alt-weeklies and magazines, including the late Industry Standard. His writing has also appeared in the Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, and Wired. He lives in Oakland with his wife and kids, a cat, a hedgehog, and too many musical instruments to master.” Jackpot is his first book. However, according to the World Federation of Science Journalists, there’s more to Michael Mechanic. He “holds a master’s degree in cellular and developmental biology from Harvard and a master’s in journalism from UC Berkeley. He’s spent the past decade as a senior editor for Mother Jones, where he handles stories for both print and web, and writes occasionally on science and other topics. His latest piece involves an emerging dual-use technology known as gene drive. As a biochemistry major at Cal, he worked on synthesizing natural poisons from those tropical frogs people warn you not to lick because if you do you’ll go into histrionic convulsions and die.” (Yes, it’s the same person.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alex Gruenenfelder

    This is the first book by author Michael Mechanic, but his years as a journalist give it power. This is a book filled with the dark side of the lifestyles of the rich and famous, of private security wishes and tax-dodging dreams. I have read a number of books now about super-wealth, and this is one of the best. The way one earns their wealth clearly has an impact. Personally, I wouldn't want to live off of money that I didn't earn, and I would only want to be wealthy if brought about by real work This is the first book by author Michael Mechanic, but his years as a journalist give it power. This is a book filled with the dark side of the lifestyles of the rich and famous, of private security wishes and tax-dodging dreams. I have read a number of books now about super-wealth, and this is one of the best. The way one earns their wealth clearly has an impact. Personally, I wouldn't want to live off of money that I didn't earn, and I would only want to be wealthy if brought about by real work. This isn't a unique view. The guilt that hits some people — some by work, some by inheritance — isn't often what's discussed in the world, compared to the people who just spend their wealth and don't have any care for the working class. Coming from nothing versus coming from something makes it complicated. This is a book full of studies. It analyzes the psychology of the ultra-wealthy as much as it analyzes their actions. The intersection of race and gender with these issues is well-discussed. The racial topic especially has been neglected in some books on super-wealth that I have read, though this is improving in the post-George Floyd era. One of the wealthy Black interviewees points to the lack of a major sickle cell anemia foundation, while other diseases have big philanthropic backers. Just because one is wealthy doesn't mean their social marginalization totally goes away, and intersectionality is necessary in the discussion of super-wealth. Topics like philanthropy are on the chopping block as well. While Mechanic's criticisms of Big Philanthropy are valid, it's one of a number of times where solutions aren't clearly offered. Eliminating the charitable giving tax deduction may stop tax-dodging philanthropists, but what would the long-term effects be on charities? This book highlights the problems far more than it does real solutions, but perhaps those are for the readers to decide. Mechanic points to a world in which capitalism might truly work for all, where philanthropy is not as necessary as it is today; it's a lesson that folks of all political stripes should listen to. This is in many ways a revolutionary book. The end of our new Gilded Age is arriving. What this book shows is that most people want to be rich, but its consequences often hurt all involved. Mechanic is an empathetic writer, who truly seeks to connect to his subjects, and many of them even understand the flaws of the system. Our system is broken: Mechanic calls on all of us, especially those at the top, to help fix it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Light, frenetic, not so serious book about the superrich, how they live, how much money they have and why it’s bad for you. But the book itself is afraid to take the topic seriously.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lissa

    3.5 stars. I feel as if this book has two parts. The first details the lives of the ultra wealthy. How they earn (or inherit) their money, how they avoid paying fair taxes, how they spend it, how they keep it and how they give it away. To be honest, I personally find rich people pretty boring so I struggled to get through this part. The second part, however, talks more about wealth inequity and why it exists and how it is getting worse. The author does a good job of laying out the issues and I f 3.5 stars. I feel as if this book has two parts. The first details the lives of the ultra wealthy. How they earn (or inherit) their money, how they avoid paying fair taxes, how they spend it, how they keep it and how they give it away. To be honest, I personally find rich people pretty boring so I struggled to get through this part. The second part, however, talks more about wealth inequity and why it exists and how it is getting worse. The author does a good job of laying out the issues and I found the information absorbing yet infuriating. While I wish the book was more focused on the information in the second part, I still found it informative. I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This book is further support for the ideas Anand Giridharadas developed in "Winner Take All." Mechanic's descriptions of the lives of the super rich are a real turn off and I hope the book gains a wide audience as it makes you realize how horrible it is for everyone to have the kind of crazy unequal income distribution that we have. And the rich aren't happy either. The children of the poor and the very rich are equally vulnerable. It was illuminating to understand what the income categories at This book is further support for the ideas Anand Giridharadas developed in "Winner Take All." Mechanic's descriptions of the lives of the super rich are a real turn off and I hope the book gains a wide audience as it makes you realize how horrible it is for everyone to have the kind of crazy unequal income distribution that we have. And the rich aren't happy either. The children of the poor and the very rich are equally vulnerable. It was illuminating to understand what the income categories at the top really consist of and how they have changed over the past decade or so -- getting more and more unequal. The happiest rich people that Mechanic interviews seem to be those that have given it all away--because the only way to be really equal to others is, in fact, to be equal. Living a life of obscene wealth but doling out a little charity here and there doesn't really do the trick or solve societal problems, some of which have been caused by the rich in the first place. Here's some advice to the wealthy from one of Mechanic's interviewees: "She would like to coax and inspire them into leading a more meaningful and ethical life, to help them free themselves from the unquenchable thirst for status, power, and stuff. To rejoin the world of the living and engage with the broader community. To feel the pleasure and kinship that come with giving up some of one's privilege so that others might enjoy a little more."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This is an interesting screed on the way the super-rich keep their money and make it grow at everyone else's expense basically. You will probably come away believing that the only way to level the playing field is with a full on revolution ala 18th century France. This is an interesting screed on the way the super-rich keep their money and make it grow at everyone else's expense basically. You will probably come away believing that the only way to level the playing field is with a full on revolution ala 18th century France.

  7. 4 out of 5

    zina

    'In some ways, being very rich and very poor are strangely similar' 'Parents who wear Rolexes tend to have big Rolodexes' Mostly asinine, as above, but some amusing bits 'In some ways, being very rich and very poor are strangely similar' 'Parents who wear Rolexes tend to have big Rolodexes' Mostly asinine, as above, but some amusing bits

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Hornik

    An exploration of having great wealth: what it’s like, what it does to you, and what it does to the world. Written in a breezy, magazine style. An easy read, juicy, that reinforces a feeling of overall doom.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Must read in the world of income inequality What my 👂 heard ⤵️ no matter how you slice it I'm your guy I'm looking for a way to turn a buck into five half of American adults with the lottery American spelled 81 billion dollars in 2019 on the lottery up 6% from the year before that and that's more than 2/3 of the GDP of most Nations it's also 10 times the amount spend each year on the world's books1 if you can't take the risks the big money is off limits you're not going to make a lot of money unless Must read in the world of income inequality What my 👂 heard ⤵️ no matter how you slice it I'm your guy I'm looking for a way to turn a buck into five half of American adults with the lottery American spelled 81 billion dollars in 2019 on the lottery up 6% from the year before that and that's more than 2/3 of the GDP of most Nations it's also 10 times the amount spend each year on the world's books1 if you can't take the risks the big money is off limits you're not going to make a lot of money unless you risk making a lot of money as a 5% are you can't buy your kids into Yale but they'll be starting off from second base even if you're still flying coach capital is crucial but hard to obtain it. you'll find out that your ideal income it's always going to be double what you make that seems to be true and should give you a lot of anxiety overtime 10% of the smart people find out how to get all the power and all the money that's kind of where we are today then there's the redistribution somebody comes in kicks over the ant hill hey cut that s*** out then they go away and the ants are coming back wealth x club I'm in the more money than brains club life evaluation scores depreciation after your basic needd are met most of wealth related social comparisons are particularly toxic as they bring about feelings of inadequacy most of the research about wealth is not how good the stuff is it's about what the stuff says about how valuable of a person you are I just don't have that fallacy to cling to being rich is having money being wealthy is having time cash rich time poor to be content with a little is difficult to be content with much is impossible we tend to compare ourselves to those in our socioeconomic orbit beggers don't envy billionaires just other beggars who are more successful we take our cues from people closest to us in our profession not a chance in China it's bad optics I've gathered up enough tails of wall not for one book but two poorest and brownest a high conflict scenario even his gatekeepers have gatekeepers despite all the do goodery anyone with wits and Moxie can one day drive that Bentley is the myth that keeps the pitchforks at Bay I'm a born hype man black taxe not a talent issue it's a access issue smart pretty and a young speaker i have nothing to offer other then hyperbole we summered in Venice I borrow and leverage tens of millions of dollars to earn tens of millions more billionardom real estate is us he greets me warmly can you i like talking with you because your so quotable

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Super rich people are not like you and me. They travel by helicopter and private jet, dine in the best restaurants with celebrities and governors, and have many many 15,000 feet houses all over the world. They don’t need to worry about money. But they have other problems. You, the super-rich: 1. All these properties need teams to manage. Butler, chef, cleaners, gardeners for each property. 2. People may kidnap you or your kids, so you need 24-hour security. Your kids’ friends need to be investiga Super rich people are not like you and me. They travel by helicopter and private jet, dine in the best restaurants with celebrities and governors, and have many many 15,000 feet houses all over the world. They don’t need to worry about money. But they have other problems. You, the super-rich: 1. All these properties need teams to manage. Butler, chef, cleaners, gardeners for each property. 2. People may kidnap you or your kids, so you need 24-hour security. Your kids’ friends need to be investigated to make sure they are safe. You can’t just go around and do stuff by yourself. It’s just not safe. 3. Relatives and friends start to come to you for money. If you give, they spend it and ask for more. If you don’t, you are terrible. 4. Hard to make new friends, and almost impossible to date a person who value you for who you are. Prenups become essential. 5. The public doesn’t like you, though they want to be you. 6. You become worse and less empathetic. You don’t give way to pedestrians when you drive. 7. All this wealth require you to get teams of lawyers and accountants to help you manage it, and to minimise your tax exposure. 8. You compare with people who are even wealthier. Ok you may be worth $300 million but that’s small change compared to Jeff Bezos. So you feel inferior. 9. You have no time to spend with your kids, with your international business interests and Gala dinners to attend. And you want them to succeed. Yet your money ruins them. The second part of the book describes how the rich club does not welcome minorities and women, and the so-called charities do not actually do charity for the poor and needy, but mostly to universities and art museums. Fortunately, some are bucking the trend. An excellent book!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Giv

    For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his soul? As people hit the jackpot, they form new friendships and join new networks, and their boundaries shift. Their points of references also change and so is what seems normal to them changes as well. The book highlights how people shifts towards socialising with the “same type” of people as they move up the socioeconomic ladder, because they “want to be free to enjoy the fruits of their labour without being reminded c For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his soul? As people hit the jackpot, they form new friendships and join new networks, and their boundaries shift. Their points of references also change and so is what seems normal to them changes as well. The book highlights how people shifts towards socialising with the “same type” of people as they move up the socioeconomic ladder, because they “want to be free to enjoy the fruits of their labour without being reminded constantly of their privilege.” This may be why touching on topics such as poverty and inequality can be so sensitive to certain people, and they tend to want to attribute the level of success to individual behaviour such as “I work hard to get to where I am today.” The book talks about how we are never “self-made” for the success we have. For many of us who have not hit the jackpot, we often fantasize what the riches have can one day be ours, thinking about the freedom it could possibly bring, but as the author observes, the rich are hardly truly “free”. They are still trapped in anxieties towards other things. We think money can be the solution to the problems we are facing, but there can be another whole set of problems we are creating as well. So.. are we truly self-made man? Or is there something bigger out there than just money that can bring us true “wealth”? It makes me consider if the wealthy are truly “wealthy” in joy, contentment, happiness or are they just wealthy in their belongings?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan Tunis

    "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand." I love that Fitzgerald quote. And, man, did he get it right! Michael Mechanic's book is a close look at an almost taboo subject, and I was completely fascinated from the first page to the last. The author and many of "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand." I love that Fitzgerald quote. And, man, did he get it right! Michael Mechanic's book is a close look at an almost taboo subject, and I was completely fascinated from the first page to the last. The author and many of the subjects were from the Bay Area, a region marinating in money, where I spent most of the past two decades. So, the world being described was very, very familiar to me. Within Jackpot's pages, Mr. Mechanic discusses levels of richness, who holds it, and what wealth inequality is doing to our culture. He talks about how the acquisition of wealth impacts those who receive it with some surprising observations. (Depends on what kind of wealth, and how and when it's acquired.). He gives us glimpses into the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and what they choose to spend all that money on. And, to return to the quote above, he shares the psychological research that, in fact, proves the rich are different from you and me. (And not necessarily in a good way.) It's not all bad; there's also a discussion of philanthropy, and those with privilege who want to share. Absolutely fascinating stuff!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Diane Hernandez

    Who hasn’t wondered how it would feel to hit the Jackpot? Whether through the lottery or stock options, with great wealth comes great responsibility (or anguish according to this book). The rich, it turns out, really are different... but not necessarily happier. Jackpot investigates every aspect of what great wealth does to people and their families. From how much it costs, the loss of privacy due to the required staffing including security, and the struggle of how to avoid spoiling the children, Who hasn’t wondered how it would feel to hit the Jackpot? Whether through the lottery or stock options, with great wealth comes great responsibility (or anguish according to this book). The rich, it turns out, really are different... but not necessarily happier. Jackpot investigates every aspect of what great wealth does to people and their families. From how much it costs, the loss of privacy due to the required staffing including security, and the struggle of how to avoid spoiling the children, it’s all included here. The book also looks at the impact on society overall of the unprecedented access of the super wealthy to politicians who make the laws. From someone who binge watches My Lottery Dream Home, this book was an eye-opener. Most of the people on the show win less than a million so the demographics are slightly off. A better analogy is Tom Hanks’ issues with his rapper son Chet. Making life easy for your kids is generally not a good thing according to the book. Some failures in life are character building. Overall, if you are curious about, or envious of, the extremely wealthy, Jackpot is a must-read. It’s a fascinating look behind the velvet rope that is never seen on carefully curated Instagram posts. 5 stars! Thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    This book talks of the obscene wealth of individuals have multiple homes, cars and basically anything they want without ever having to inquire about prices. The rich need to hire entourages to handle their finances, open their mail, clean their houses, coordinate their daily schedules, raise their children, provide security, maintain their residences, their cars, boats, planes and search for more possessions to acquire. Psychologists speak of paranoia, narcissism, passive aggressive behavior, This book talks of the obscene wealth of individuals have multiple homes, cars and basically anything they want without ever having to inquire about prices. The rich need to hire entourages to handle their finances, open their mail, clean their houses, coordinate their daily schedules, raise their children, provide security, maintain their residences, their cars, boats, planes and search for more possessions to acquire. Psychologists speak of paranoia, narcissism, passive aggressive behavior, over dependency, odd behavior and difficulty forming close relationships that individuals with enomous wealth have battle. The rich are jealous over individuals who are leading “regular normal” lives. Then we read about how happiness declines after a certain income and the book details how people who win millions are hounded by friends and strangers and organizations. If the search is for happiness, it is suggested to redistribute your wealth and your power and invest in your community and make a living like the rest of the world.

  15. 4 out of 5

    W. Whalin

    Fascinating Insights about the Super Rich What happens when your business takes off and you suddenly inherit wealth? Editor Michael Mechanic uses detailed storytelling about the super wealthy to give readers insights about their challenges. I listened to the audiobook version of JACKPOT cover to cover. I found the chapter about professional athletes fascinating and showed that poor choices with your wealth reveals the fleeting nature of it. As I listened to JACKPOT there were several continuing t Fascinating Insights about the Super Rich What happens when your business takes off and you suddenly inherit wealth? Editor Michael Mechanic uses detailed storytelling about the super wealthy to give readers insights about their challenges. I listened to the audiobook version of JACKPOT cover to cover. I found the chapter about professional athletes fascinating and showed that poor choices with your wealth reveals the fleeting nature of it. As I listened to JACKPOT there were several continuing themes. First, the super-rich do not live problem-free lives but often fall into addiction and other society ills. Also Mechanic gives details about how these super-rich use the tax laws to maintain and foster their wealthy lifestyle. My experience with this audiobook was worthwhile listening and recommended. W. Terry Whalin is an editor and the author of more than 60 books including his latest 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed .

  16. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Cory

    This book is in a class by itself. There are many books written about the super-wealthy, a notoriously difficult cohort to write about because of their extremely private and inaccessible nature. This is a thoroughly researched, comprehensive, and definitive book on the subject. I especially love the author's conclusion that instead of getting pitchforks out and condemning the super-wealthy, we should instead encourage the rich to grab their pitchforks and pitch hay along with the rest of us. Micha This book is in a class by itself. There are many books written about the super-wealthy, a notoriously difficult cohort to write about because of their extremely private and inaccessible nature. This is a thoroughly researched, comprehensive, and definitive book on the subject. I especially love the author's conclusion that instead of getting pitchforks out and condemning the super-wealthy, we should instead encourage the rich to grab their pitchforks and pitch hay along with the rest of us. Michael Mechanic is such a great author that he should consider a follow-up book with the steps necessary to enact that societal change. My highest recommendation. A strong contender for Book of the Year.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Miguel

    This was an interesting addition to the growing bevy of documentation about the ultra rich and inequality. The early chapters have an almost fawning take on his subjects as the author gets up close and personal from people from this strata. It almost goes over into having a Wall Street (Film) vibe, where it’s supposedly critical but also would be inspiration or aspirational for some. Later in the book the author focuses more on societal impacts and here is where the book does a better job, espec This was an interesting addition to the growing bevy of documentation about the ultra rich and inequality. The early chapters have an almost fawning take on his subjects as the author gets up close and personal from people from this strata. It almost goes over into having a Wall Street (Film) vibe, where it’s supposedly critical but also would be inspiration or aspirational for some. Later in the book the author focuses more on societal impacts and here is where the book does a better job, especially on Trusts and intergenerational wealth passing implications. Though there are much better books on the subject, perhaps this one with some of the more personal stories would entice others to find out more about the pernicious effects the ultra wealthy have on society.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Reed Hansen

    His anecdotes about people in the .001% of wealthiest people are really fascinating. His opinion that extreme wealth is a crime is less compelling. Two key questions are outstanding: How does the existence of billionaires mean we are worse off? What does he propose is done to fix this IF we are worse off? If his answer is some mechanism of the government seizing their wealth for redistribution, we can refer to the failure of every single nation that has tried that before. 2/5 for some interesting a His anecdotes about people in the .001% of wealthiest people are really fascinating. His opinion that extreme wealth is a crime is less compelling. Two key questions are outstanding: How does the existence of billionaires mean we are worse off? What does he propose is done to fix this IF we are worse off? If his answer is some mechanism of the government seizing their wealth for redistribution, we can refer to the failure of every single nation that has tried that before. 2/5 for some interesting anecdotes. #reedviewed

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Robertson

    Wow, this book taught me so much and most of it is not good news! If you grew up middle class/ lower middle class like me, odds are that you don't enjoy the opportunities that your parents did. I know I don't. The mega-wealthy suck up all of the money and it's more than difficult to find a job that pays a living wage for a lot of us. There are a few stray rays of sunshine in here. Some billionaires actually want to give back to the community. But basically the American dream may be alive and wel Wow, this book taught me so much and most of it is not good news! If you grew up middle class/ lower middle class like me, odds are that you don't enjoy the opportunities that your parents did. I know I don't. The mega-wealthy suck up all of the money and it's more than difficult to find a job that pays a living wage for a lot of us. There are a few stray rays of sunshine in here. Some billionaires actually want to give back to the community. But basically the American dream may be alive and well somewhere else, but not in America!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cooljoe815

    A really good book about the rich and their lifestyle. When I saw the author was an editor for mother Jones magazine. A very liberal Magazine I thought he was going to do a hatchet job complaining about the rich. But Michael Mechanic did a good and balled job on how the rich lived. My three takeaways are rich have access to everything good and exceptional in life. They have businesses that cater and fulfill their every needs and fix their every problems. They protect their power and money by any A really good book about the rich and their lifestyle. When I saw the author was an editor for mother Jones magazine. A very liberal Magazine I thought he was going to do a hatchet job complaining about the rich. But Michael Mechanic did a good and balled job on how the rich lived. My three takeaways are rich have access to everything good and exceptional in life. They have businesses that cater and fulfill their every needs and fix their every problems. They protect their power and money by any means necessary including changing the laws to their advantage..

  21. 5 out of 5

    Susie Stangland

    This book was was riveting! A fascinating look at the psychology which takes place for those who become suddenly wealthy or already are. I didn’t quite know what to expect when I began but from page one it instantly revealed it was a high caliber read. I also appreciated the way he humanized those with vast wealth as apposed to characterizing them the way the majority of people will. Highly recommend this book!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    An engaging, informative read about wealth in America. I felt like a voyeur peeking through windows as the author described the trappings and sentiments of the wealthy individuals he interviews. I learned about accredited investors and custom Bentleys but also about the conflicts and complications wealth brings with it. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eliana

    This book was fascinating, well-researched, and really enjoyable to read. It touched on so many aspects of being ultrawealthy that I never would have considered. Some of the financial terms discussed went over my head but luckily the book was written in such a way that I could enjoy it even though I didn't understand every single concept. This book was fascinating, well-researched, and really enjoyable to read. It touched on so many aspects of being ultrawealthy that I never would have considered. Some of the financial terms discussed went over my head but luckily the book was written in such a way that I could enjoy it even though I didn't understand every single concept.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mike DuBois

    A lot of good information here about extreme wealth and the related finances, as well as some of the meta lifestyle and psychological issues that come with being super wealthy. I wish there had been more crazy glam examples and anecdotes, Crazy Rich Asians style. The actual manuscript doesn’t hold the same level of sex appeal that the book’s marketing and branding implies.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Linda Gaines

    Lots of information I knew( but some that was new) on the divide in our society between those who have a lot and those who don't. It inspired me to continue to aid others in ways I can. I am definitely not the typical citizen of my class in my political life. I know my legislators and communicate with them regularly. My focus in not on myself but on issues that impact the powerless in our world. Lots of information I knew( but some that was new) on the divide in our society between those who have a lot and those who don't. It inspired me to continue to aid others in ways I can. I am definitely not the typical citizen of my class in my political life. I know my legislators and communicate with them regularly. My focus in not on myself but on issues that impact the powerless in our world.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melinda Stewart

    This is a book about economic inequality. The first part of the book, which exposes the lives of the super-rich, was an average read. But when he begins to explain how our political system unfairly enriches those who already have so much capital, you realize--it's time to work to change the rules. This is a book about economic inequality. The first part of the book, which exposes the lives of the super-rich, was an average read. But when he begins to explain how our political system unfairly enriches those who already have so much capital, you realize--it's time to work to change the rules.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Prateek

    Good insights on how the super rich live and what matters for them. Just read it out of curiosity and certain insights are actually interesting. Will help you have a background (on what could be the rationale) and better understanding when you hear any news about super rich getting separated, planning their inheritance or their philanthropy ventures.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Edwin Roorda

    Just finished this excellent book. I have a 4 decade career in finance. It is well written, meticulously documented, current, with a hopeful finish; and I need the hopeful part. Along with Jane Mayer's "Dark Money", provides essential understanding of the forces at work in our current American "Success" myth. Just finished this excellent book. I have a 4 decade career in finance. It is well written, meticulously documented, current, with a hopeful finish; and I need the hopeful part. Along with Jane Mayer's "Dark Money", provides essential understanding of the forces at work in our current American "Success" myth.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kayo

    What an interesting book. It had a wealth of information (no pun intended). Author really researched the subject. Great book. Thanks to author, publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Akindle

    A story of America’s elite, the upper 10% this book is a 5 Star story of how money makes a difference and what it is like to be wealthy. I got this as an Arc from NetGalley. My rating is not affected by getting this for free as an ARC.

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