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

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

by Michael Mechanic
Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live-and How Their Wealth Harms Us All

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

by Michael Mechanic


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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, 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781982127213
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 04/13/2021
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Michael Mechanic is a senior editor at Mother Jones magazine. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, two teenagers, and various animals. Jackpot is his first book.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I

Chapter 1 Jackpot 15

Chapter 2 Retail Therapy 32

Chapter 3 The One 45

Chapter 4 From the Elite to the Impossible 59

Part II

Chapter 5 Entourage 73

Chapter 6 The Psychology of Consumption 90

Chapter 7 Losing Trust 102

Chapter 8 The Marriage Premium 112

Chapter 9 My Bodyguard 123

Chapter 10 The Offspring 135

Chapter 11 Getting In 150

Chapter 12 Losing Touch 165

Part III

Chapter 13 Capital Hill 177

Chapter 14 The Snow Ball Grows 192

Chapter 15 Dynasty 206

Chapter 16 Who Wants to Have It All? 217

Chapter 17 Thriving While Black 229

Chapter 18 Women on Top 247

Chapter 19 Giving It Away 259

Chapter 20 Perfect Storm 281

Acknowledgments 293

Resources 297

Notes 299

Index 391

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