I won money on a game show, and my coworkers resent that I wasn’t laid off

A reader writes:

Pre-pandemic, I was on a game show. The game show itself isn’t well known, but I did win a small but not life-changing sum (think like three months salary after taxes). My coworkers knew I had been on this show, but per the contract I signed, I wasn’t allowed to reveal the results until the episode aired. I ended up using the entire sum to pay down my student loans, which — not being able to see the future — seemed smarter at the time than putting it in my savings. (I do have some savings, but not enough for this economy.)

The episode has aired within the past few weeks and a few of my coworkers have watched it. The issue is that we just went through a pretty large round of layoffs, and I overheard two of my coworkers, Willow and Xander, gossiping about how unfair it is that Buffy was laid off but I wasn’t. I work as a part of a (formerly) two-person team, and am now doing Buffy’s former duties as well as my own. Willow said that because I have all that game show money and Buffy doesn’t, it’s unfair that she’s now jobless. Xander expressed concern over Buffy’s kid and pointed out that I don’t have any kids, and so it wouldn’t be as expensive for me.

I really liked Buffy, and she and I were hired at the exact same time. I have no idea why she was laid off and I wasn’t, it’s just one of those things.

(My coworkers know how much I won before taxes, because they make a big deal of it in the show. It’s four months salary before taxes. But it’s not like “I can live on this for a whole year” money.)

I’m worried that my coworkers’ gossip may spread and make me a target in the next round of layoffs. I also don’t like the fact that they seem to prefer Buffy over me. I fully acknowledge that I may be reading too much into this, and that ultimately layoffs are out of my control. Is this worth bringing up with Willow and Xander? Should I just dismiss this as gossip, and pretend I never heard anything? Should I reveal that I already spent the money? Any advice would be much appreciated!

Your coworkers are really wrong here.

If they thought about it, they’d realize that they probably don’t want layoffs to be done on the basis of who most needs the work. Should we lay off people without kids first? Or maybe married people first, since they have a spouse to help support them? What about Jeff, who has those expensive student loan payments? Or Jane, who got that inheritance from her grandmother in the spring? And doesn’t Cecil live rent-free in his parents’ garage?

That’s not how it works, and that’s not how anyone should want it to work. When employers get into the business of judging employees’ personal financial situations (or more accurately, what they think they know about employees’ personal financial situations, which might not even be correct), bad things happen. You make layoff decisions based on business needs: what functions and roles you can realistically cut, sometimes factoring in performance, tenure, etc.

That said, their friend just lost her job, and they might be worried about their own jobs too. When people are emotional, they sometimes say things that don’t hold up to logical scrutiny … and sometimes they say things they won’t really think a few weeks later.

It’s pretty unlikely that their comments will put a target on you if there’s another round of cuts. Managers involved in layoff decisions are unlikely to be influenced by this kind of griping. Even if it did give them pause, they’re highly likely to realize the absurdity of thinking that a few months salary significantly changes your financial situation to the extent that it should enter their thinking.

As for whether to say something to Willow and Xander … if you just overheard this the one time, I’d let it go. It could be the kind of remark that was more blowing off steam than anything else. But if you start hearing it repeatedly or they’re saying it to others, then sure, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Hey, I keep hearing you saying this, and I want to let you know that especially after taxes, the money from the show wasn’t the sort of significant bump you’re thinking. I spent it on bills. I need my job as much as anyone does.” Of course, you don’t have to explain that to them, and they’re in no way entitled to your financial details. But it sounds like you’d get some peace of mind from setting the record straight. I’d just resist that impulse unless you see evidence that this was more than a one-time conversation.

{ 239 comments… read them below }

  1. The Happy Graduate*

    OP I can get wanting to clear the air, and sometimes when people get called out it’s a enough of a shock/embarrassment that they actually consistently refrain continuing similar patterns. But I also agree with Alison that if it was just one-off and you otherwise know them to be kind and considerate, this may not be a battle worth fighting.

    1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      Yeah, I think Allison had really good advice. I’ve decided to let this go, it probably was just a venting session that they’d be embarrassed to realize I have heard. And I get the anger, I am also worried about Buffy and Buffy’s kid, but I really need this job too. I haven’t heard anything to indicate this was any more than a one-off, so unless it spreads, I plan to treat it as such.

      1. Red Wheelbarrow*

        The gameshow slayer (OP), I just want to pause for a moment and appreciate your username, in combination with your co-workers’ pseudonyms. Also I’m surprised that Buffy, of all people, got laid off!

        1. starsaphire*

          It’s awesomely hopeful, though, because it makes me feel like she’ll get brought “back to life” next hiring cycle… ;)

          1. Greg*

            Although the OP should be very careful about getting on Willow’s bad side. Sometimes receiving bad news can push her to a very dark place.

      2. Anon for Today*

        Congratulations on your small windfall, OP. Using it to reduce debt is a smart move, IMO.

    2. Hills to Die On.*

      I would agree – one time and you can’t give people grace for being a part of a very frightening economic situation.
      Twice, and they need to know that they are passing judgment where they have no right to do so.

    3. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      This is such a “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” thing. If OP admits to not having the money anymore, there’s still judgement. Aside from OP saying, “I used all that money for a friend’s medical treatment”, there’s no situation where they won’t be judged.
      A friend was on a gameshow in the 80’s and won a year supply of KFC. I feel like that would have been so much easier in this situation, because who could say, “Fire Nancy, she gets 5 free 16 piece buckets a week, she will survive!”

  2. anon73*

    Your co-workers are assholes and Alison is right. If you and Buffy had the same job and were hired around the same time, it most likely means that you were a better employee than her and that’s why they chose to keep you. And if you keep hearing them talk about you, I would definitely say something but I wouldn’t mention the amount of money you won, because it’s none of their business and you don’t need to justify anything. I’d just go with something similar to the first and last part of Alison’s script. “I keep hearing you talk about this and I’d like you to stop. I need my job just as much as everyone else.”

    1. jake*

      I like your response. There is no need for the OP to have to explain their financial situation. Frankly it’s no ones business.

    2. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

      I agree- people who make comments and speculate about others’ finances are downright rude. Granted they thought you didn’t hear them, but that doesn’t make it right. I can’t stand people who do that. Nor can I stand people who get weird and jealous of others who have something (whether it’s money or something else) that they don’t. It is absolutely none of their business. One’s financial situation should not have anything to do with whether or not they should be laid off. I agree that you should say something if you hear anyone saying it again. In any case, your finances are nobody else’s business.

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        This hits the nail on the head. I don’t understand people who think they are entitled to express an opinion in public on stuff like this. And, to be envious of something someone else has is really childish by the time you’re a working adult. OP, I’m sorry you are going through this. The last place I worked, this was a thing. Don’t be like me and try to reason with these clods. Hold your head high and know you are doing nothing wrong. Just like Alison says, tell them you need your job, too and to cut it out.

        1. knead me seymour*

          I agree that it’s unkind and unhelpful for them to publicly air their views about this, and that the LW is better off letting it go, but I have to disagree that it’s inherently childish to feel envious of other people. I think it’s actually pretty understandable not to feel great when you’re in a really scary and precarious financial situation and you see that others are living much more comfortable lives, just due to a roll of the dice.

          That’s not to say that these coworkers were behaving well, or that their feelings about the LW are legitimate, but I would be inclined to extend them a little bit of grace to assume that they are feeling the same financial anxiety that most of us are these days, and hope that it was just a one-time thing.

          1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

            Of course, someone might feel envious of someone’s good fortune if they themselves are having a hard time. However, it’s childish to act out and wish I’ll will on the person who is more fortunate. I have found that the worst whiners about other people’s good fortune are also the worst gloaters when it’s the other way around.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            +1 Feeling envy because someone won money, or because they have a job when you don’t is absolutely reasonable and doesn’t make you a child. Envy is a normal human emotion. Letting the envy make you act like a dick is what is childish.

            Hopefully it was a passing feeling and they will get over it!

          3. anon73*

            Being envious isn’t childish, but someone’s actions based on that envy is childish.

            Am I jealous that some of my friends go on multiple vacations each year, when we only go on one trip so we can pay down debt quicker? Yes. Do I make my friends feel bad about being able to go on these trips, or talk about them behind their backs saying things like “must be nice”? No.

            1. Liz*

              Same. I generally go on one big trip every few years. Sadly this was my year and it was cancelled. I have friends who go on several a year. Am I envious? Sure. Do I comment how it must be nice to be able to do that so often? Absolutely not. The most I might say is “oh that sounds like a great trip, can’t wait to hear all about it” or something similar. I’m genuinely interested in where people go, what they see, and so on, because I love to travel and its a potential new spot for ME to go to sometime.

      2. CatLadyInTraining*

        Exactly! There are always people who have more or less. Getting all wound up about it, is unproductive

    3. Momma Bear*

      Pretty much everyone has something that is not anyone else’s business – their love life, their health, their finances…while it’s kind of a shame that your windfall is so well publicized, no one outside of maybe your FSO need to know the details (if applicable). If they let the matter drop, then I wouldn’t say anything. If OP thinks they are letting this color the situation negatively and are making OP’s new workload harder, I would clear the air. But keep it simple. “After taxes it wasn’t as much as you think. I have a lot of respect for Buffy and who got laid off and who didn’t is above my pay grade. I want to put this behind us and focus on the work we need to do.”

    4. Esmeralda*

      Agreed. Frankly, they’re the ones who look bad since they’re yapping about it AT WORK and WHERE THE OP CAN HEAR THEM. Very unprofessional.

      1. JSPA*

        game shows and reality TV do blur the line between “things we can talk about at the watercooler because it’s television” and “things we can’t talk about because it’s a coworker’s private business.”

        That, to me, is reason enough to address it. “Yes, I was on a show, but I’m still your coworker, not a TV personality. It feels surreal to have other people discuss my finances as if they had insight or a vote. It’s doubly depressing because I paid down my loans instead of holding onto the cash, which now feels like a self-inflicted wound; and the way you’re talking about it is like rubbing salt in.”

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yup, so many reasons some better than others.

        (I’m not talking about OP&Buffy here: I’ve seen too many cases where they said it was random/work ability, but the person laid off is close to retirement or 401k vesting. Or has had extensive medical care. Or whose family is on company-paid health insurance.
        It burns me up.)

  3. Jennifer*

    I think it was a one-time venting session based out of concern for a friend with a kid that was laid off. Winning three months salary isn’t a big deal but sometimes when people are upset they aren’t thinking logically. I’d let it go unless it becomes a recurring thing.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Winning three months salary isn’t a big deal

      I fully understand that the amount is small (though of course not ‘insignificant’!); I don’t know how much severance payments tend to be in OPs locale, not least because I don’t know where she’s based, but as a UK-er 3 months salary as a severance payment would be in the range of a standard amount (depending on number of years worked at the company, and age strangely!) so I can see the sense of unfairness that (e.g.) “OP gets 3 months salary *and* gets to keep her job, so it’s just gravy!”

      1. Jennifer*

        Totally. For me it definitely would be a big deal, and I understand why some people would feel irritated. I understand that the comments stung but the OP has to understand they were made out of fear and frustration. People are terrified right now.

        1. pancakes*

          There are many thousands of people who are fearful and frustrated and nonetheless not saying asinine things about their coworkers within hearing range.

          1. Jennifer*

            And many others who have said things they regret. How about a little grace during this difficult time?

              1. Jennifer*

                As said above, they made a mistake. It was never intended to be heard by the OP. We’ve ALL said something privately that we regret. Doesn’t make it okay, but in my opinion it’s forgivable as long as it’s not a recurring thing. I just don’t see this as the great offense that many here do.

                1. pancakes*

                  It’s possible the coworkers regret what they said, and just as possible they don’t. It’s possible, too, that their comments weren’t in fact “made out of fear and frustration.” You’re doing a lot of speculating about the mindsets and values of two individuals we don’t have much information about. One thing we do know, however, is that they didn’t say these things privately. I’m not trying to say I think their comments are unforgivable or monstrous — I just don’t agree with your framing.

  4. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Congrats on your win, OP. Alison is absolutely right that you don’t owe them an explanation. And honestly, if you do say something like “after taxes, it really wasn’t enough to live on for long and I need my job” but I wouldn’t necessarily feel obligated to tell them what you spent the money on.

    I feel like you should have used Cordelia and Harmony for your unpleasant coworkers though :)

    1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      Thanks! Cordelia is actually kinda awesome in Angel, so I would have felt bad about that. I just wanted names that were obviously fake, and this is the show I’ve been binging. You have a point about not saying specifically what I spent it on, I guess I just worry about coming off as ungrateful or a braggart. Your script is super helpful and removes some of that stress.

      1. Wordnerd*

        OP I get that this is off-topic but if you’re not already, I suggest listening to Buffering the Vampire Slayer – Buffy recap podcast with an original recap song for every episode! Sorry you’re in this situation but seeing Buffy pseudonyms cheered me up immensely :-)

        1. Kind of like cardboard*

          I was thinking that too! Someone’s screen name here is Green Mug, made me wonder how much overlap there is among the AAM readership and Buffering listenership.

          (Not my usual screen name…)

        2. Al*

          I love Buffering the Vampire Slayer! Now that they’re in Season 6, I’m already a little sad that we’re getting so close to the end! I’m excited to see how things go with Angel On Top this season.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        That’s fair, she was. And vamp!Harmony was actually pretty cool too :)

        Hopefully it was a one off thing and you won’t have to worry about it anymore though.

        1. annakarina1*

          Vampire Harmony ironically became a better and more likable person after turning, likely because she had few friends left and was more lonely and insecure and wanting to be liked. Her one solo episode on Angel was really great to see.

    2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      Y’all are making me wish I watched more tv. I think I’ll get the videos from the library since I can’t fritter my time away at the mall these days.

      As a side note, I might be tempted to let people know I wasn’t simply handed the money, I had to compete for the win. Wonder if it was a challenging game?

  5. Works with Military*

    These people are ridiculous. Should we start paying parents more than the childless? Should we scale pay with the number of children?

    These are the same arguments that are used to pay men more than women.

    1. Malika*

      As a childless older woman I have quite often heard ‘but do you really neeeeeed this salary?’ It is the only time I have truly felt discriminated during my entire working life.
      It feels as if all that women should earn is pin money and find a nice hubby to do the heavy financial lifting when the need for kids arises. As if we do not contribute to pension plans and mortage payments. As if we do not lose the roof over our head if we are not earning money. Never mind ‘needing’ to be paid the same for doing the exact same job.

      1. Daffy Duck*

        Yeah, this makes steam come out my ears. This should have stopped decades ago. We were fighting this in the 1980s, 1970s, 1960s and it should have been dead, buried, and rotted by now.

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        I left my first workplace because I was told I would not ever get a raise because “There are people with families working here and they need the money.”

        1. Double A*

          Even worse is this is also almost always code for “men with families.” Women are rarely rewarded with higher pay because they have children and in fact it’s usually the opposite.

          1. Nobby Nobbs*

            I’ll never forget the sixth grade Social Studies teacher who told us the story about how her first boss flat out admitted she was being payed less than her male colleagues because “they have families to support.” She was the sole breadwinner for her disabled husband.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Geez. I would need the money even worse if I suddenly had to live on my one small salary. And people’s raises or prospects thereof shouldn’t be based on their boss’ estimation of one person’s financial need versus another.

      3. Double A*

        Interestingly, the only time I’ve felt…not discriminated against exactly, but when I’ve felt systemic sexism working against me is around pregnancy and maternity leave. Basically women get hit whether they have children or not (although, statistically, a huge part of the gender wage gap is a motherhood penalty).

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          While I haven’t experienced this first hand, I’ve seen it plenty of time. People would think nothing of complaining about how long someone would be out for maternity leave. I’d trot out other employee’s time off: “What about when you had Lyme disease? What about the time you broke your leg and you were out for weeks?” One guy who complained about a woman on leave insisted on taking every Wednesday off to go to his son’s baseball game because “family is important.” Often, maternity leave is less disruptive because you can plan for, it but try telling that to the whiners.

          1. Anon for Today*

            They bitch about it because they don’t know what’s involved in caring for a newborn while you’re trying to heal from giving birth. The myth that SAHM’s sit around and watch soaps is still a thing. Maternity leave isn’t a vacation. I know young mothers who were thankful to be back at the office because it was easier than taking care of a screaming infant.

        2. Doc in a Box*

          Totally agree. Even women who are child-free by choice are assumed to be mothers-in-waiting. One of my college friends was asked on an interview: “How will you keep from becoming pregnant in med school?” (Um… the same way I didn’t become pregnant in college, also [expletive] you, people have babies in med school all the time.)

      4. Assistant Manager*

        At multiple jobs, I have been expected to take the undesirable shifts because I’m single without kids. I’ve always been tempted to remind people that it would be easier for me to have a partner and kids if I didn’t get trapped on night shift!

        1. JustaTech*

          At my job I have volunteered to take early or late time points for experiments because I know that some of my coworkers have both little kids and long commutes. But I also knew that 1) they appreciated it, 2) they would have taken those time slots if no one else could and 3) they did more than their share during regular hours.

          But the job where I was *told* to work a whole 12 hour shift when all the rest of my coworkers had a “family reason” to only work 8 hours? Yeah, I resented that a lot, not least because it meant I got off after the buses changed to only running every half hour, so I inevitably had to spend 25 minutes standing around in the cold and dark waiting for my bus when everyone else drove.

      5. Elle*

        I ran into a friend of my husband’s parents, and she asked me if I was “still working.” This was about 15 years ago when my children were still small, and I said “yes, why wouldn’t I be?” And her reply was something along the lines of, “well I guess you need your pin money!” My response – “I wouldn’t call half of my family’s income ‘pin money’.” She looked really surprised that I made as much as my husband!!! :(

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          My own mother has counseled me several times to make sure my husband does not feel emasculated because I make more substantially money than he does. This is the same woman who insisted I go to college, told me to make sure I could support myself as an adult, and was big into independent living skills like being able to cook, budget and save, etc. so I “wouldn’t have to be dependent on a husband to live”. (My husband has never expressed any concern or insecurity about our financial life at all. We pool the majority of our money, so I’ve no idea why it’d matter who earned it.)

      6. WS*

        One thing that I really like about the rural area where I live is that generally the farm women *are* the wage earners. The men primarily run the farm, the women do some farm work and have full-time jobs in town so that the family has consistent, reliable cash income. If you tried to pay a woman less than a man on the grounds of family support you would be laughed out of town. (There are also some gay farmers and single female farmers, but the male farmer female earner couple is by far the most common.)

    2. Sinister Serina*

      That’s exactly what I was thinking-these the arguments that have been used to hire men when a woman was better for the job, pay them more because they have a family, and keep them in the job when the woman is doing it better.This is a huge justification for that, when it should be based on merit/qualification/how well you do your job.

    3. Anon 2.0*

      And these types of statements/arguments are why some companies shy away from hiring or promoting women in the first place. I would love to see these same people’s head explode if someone suggested Buffy couldn’t do a certain job because ‘she has a child!’

        1. OBMD*

          Not the pay. But you get a housing allowance and food allowance. These 2 allowances are different if you are single or have dependents.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            Only the housing allowance is higher if you have dependents, and those of us with no children, but married to civilians also get the higher housing allowance. Further, it’s only one ‘with dependents’ allowance rate, not prorated per number of children.

            The food allowance is higher for enlisted than for officers, but does not increase when one marries.

          2. Tiny Kong*

            Well but allowances are for different reasons, right?
            Where I work, we separate out allowances that in the US seem to often be bundled in with the base salary. Like cost of living is a separate allowance given to people who work in the big cities, but their base salary is the same as people at the rural facilities.

            This makes more sense because base salary is awarded based on skills/knowledge/the work done, and allowances are to offset hardship and inconvenience for the employee. Transportation, setting up a home office during the pandemic, work mobile phone, etc. It’s easier to transfer someone away from their families (or make their families move with them, as the military does) if you pay an allowance to offset the inconvenience. But it doesn’t affect the job or skills of the employee, so salary should not be affected. That’s how we think of it at least.

    4. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      Y’all are making me wish I watched more tv. I think I’ll get the videos from the library since I can’t fritter my time away at the mall these days.

      As a side note, I might be tempted to let people know I wasn’t simply handed the money, I had to compete for the win. Wonder if it was a challenging game?

  6. Malika*

    Management with any sense does not go round thinking X has lottery win, so lets give them the boot. Times like these can feel very high stakes, it is upsetting to see someone being given their marching orders. It is human to say such things. This will pass, and people will have forgotten they have ever mentioned anything about your lottery win.

    During a reorganisation, the choice of dinging one EA came down between me and another with a shorter tenure. It was easier to keep me on, so she got given her notice. Cue lots of overheard conversations saying ‘but she has a kid to support.’ The implication being that by agreeing to stay, i was being selfish. Or at least, during that highly tense time, that was how it felt. While I simpathized with her plight, we childless, single people also need a roof over our head and food on the table. It is best to count to ten and move on.

    1. Esmeralda*

      It’s human to THINK such things. It’s unprofessional and mean-spirited to say them out loud at work where the target can hear them (even if they thought OP wasn’t around, there’s always a chance. Bad judgment on their part.)

      1. Jennifer*

        Sure, but most people have said something they wouldn’t want overheard. Definitely bad judgment, but I get it.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Management with any sense does not go round thinking X has lottery win, so lets give them the boot

      It gets me thinking, hypothetically (because in real life it won’t be the case) if you have 2 llama groomers and only one llama groomer position in your new restructured org chart, so you need to lay off one, but there really isn’t a pin to put between the 2 in that they are so equally matched in terms of aptitude, performance or whatever other factors you take into account… then how do you decide which one gets the “boot”? Is it fairer at that point to just draw names from a hat, or to take in to account circumstances or……

      I honestly don’t know, it isn’t a snarky question but something that has genuinely occurred to me from time to time.

      I think in some cases it may be a case of who needs the job more, or more accurately who has more alternative options?

      1. Ooh La La*

        In Malika’s example, it seems like the decision was made based on tenure, which is a fair(er) way of deciding when there are truly no other meaningful differences. “Who needs it more” is a very slippery slope that can quickly become discriminatory, including opening up the company up to legal liability.

        1. TTDH*

          Yeah, length of tenure is always an option unless they happened to start on the very same day. You really can’t ever look at “who needs it more” or “who has more options” because you, not being both of the people in question, can’t arbitrate that. For some reason people always seem to want to find a hypothetical situation where they’re allowed to do so without being discriminatory, but there really is not one.

      2. LPUK*

        You could throw a dice and I think that would be fairer than ‘ who do I think has better circumstances out of these otherwise identical people’ – value judgements like that are inherently unfair. Otherwise you might get into areas like x has had more sick days, y is just married and may decide to have kids, z doesn’t have kids ( but may be caring for elderly parents). It’s all bad.

      3. not always right*

        My former company faced this dilemma back in 2011. There were three of us in accounting and one of us had to go. We all had the same amount of experience, etc. They ended up laying off Beckett who had been there from the birth of the business. (It was a mid sized family owned business) From 2008 on she had said many times that she was going to retire at the end of 2011. Also, her husband had a very well paying recession proof job and, by her own admission, she did not have to work at all. She had health issues which forced her to go from full time to part time which was actually for the best as business had slowed down and roughly half of the work force had been laid off over the previous 3 years. The quality of her work remained the same as before her health issues. The other coworker, Alexis’ son and daughter in law lost their good paying jobs. They found other ones, but at a much lower salary, so they and their two kids moved in with her. At that time, I was the sole breadwinner because my husband had suffered a stroke and was unable to work. I already was working two jobs because of the 2008 recession. I could not pick up any more hours on my second job because my mom had dementia and was in an assisted living facility over 50 miles away. The only time I could visit my mom was on Sundays after church. They ended up redistributing her job among the office manger, the other lady and me. No one ever said so, but I am sure that our various situations were looked at and the decision to lay off Beckett was at least partially made based on that. Oh yeah, not sure if this matters, but Beckett was on Medicare at that time and Alexis and I were on our company’s very expensive health insurance.

        1. Media Monkey*

          in that instance surely it made sense to lay off Beckett purely on the basis that they had said they planned to retire (assuming they actually had said that and it wasn’t just someone deciding that they probably would due to their age).. as otherwise you lay off someone else and then end up needing to hire again when beckett goes?

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        No sane organization (acknowledgement that a lot are not) is going to get into a value judgment about who “deserves” to keep their job more, particularly based on personal factors. It’s going to be an objective deciding point, mostly likely the person who started most recently is the one who’s out.

        That being said, having to make choices between people with no differentiating factors isn’t that common. One might know a software that is mission critical, one’s got a better performance record than others or supports a VIP client, etc.

  7. HR Bee*

    My father won something similar a few years ago. It was a show put on by the state lottery and he won like $12,000 before taxes. It was a significant sum for my parents because they only make about $45,000 a year as a one income household. They used the entire amount to pay off credit card debt and pay bills so they wouldn’t have to worry about having enough money for bills and food for a few months. It certainly wasn’t life changing and they’re back to living paycheck to paycheck.

    I would probably opt for Alison’s script even without hearing them say something again, but I can’t stand people talking about me with incorrect information. Obviously, you owe no one any explanations, but I can definitely see, especially in this climate why this would bug you and it would me as well. I’m sorry you have to deal with coworkers gossiping like this!

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, with lottery winnings, don’t you typically get something like 60% of the winnings after taxes?
      Honestly, I don’t think lottery winnings ought to be taxed at all because it’s like paying money back into the lottery program or state that runs it.

        1. AGD*

          About 20 years ago I read a memoir by a woman who’d been on I think three different game shows (Contestant by Noreen Wald), and this was the main message for me. There’s only so much money left over.

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

            62% (or whatever) of something is still significantly more than 100% of nothing…

          2. Partly Cloudy*

            This book sounds interesting to me so I looked it up on Amazon just now. It’s available for $890.
            Having not won a game show recently, I guess I’ll pass.

            1. Lentils*

              I was just able to find a listing for a much more reasonable price on Thriftbooks, if that helps? (I toggled to Google Shopping and had to scroll through some other books, but it is there!)

            2. Filosofickle*

              Interestingly, I read that when you see an outrageously priced book like that on Amazon it’s probably part of a money laundering scheme. Who knew?

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Huh. I’ve always assumed it was a seller posting something high because they didn’t see another one of it on quick search and hoped they might luck into a billionaire who wanted one.
                A friend was more cynical and thought the seller would have 2 stores and use the high-priced item to let them jack up the price a small bit on the reasonably priced others.

        2. Cj*

          In the US, at least, lottery winnings are taxed just like any other unearned income like interest. If their only other income is $45,000, that would still only put them in the 12% tax bracket for federal, and in Minnesota, they pay about 6% in taxes.

          So after tax, they keep 82% of their winnings, plus they wouldn’t be paying 7.65% FICA tax on it like you do on wages.

          It’s when people win multi million dollar lotteries that they pay such a huge percentage in taxes.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        You pay to play the lottery, then they split the collection between state funded programs and the winner. Why in the world wouldn’t you pay taxes on the winnings? It’s a lump sum of additional income, it’s not an accident settlement or something that comes to you only because something bad happened and is restitution for a loss.

        The taxes are high because it’s the federal cut of the taxes not the state’s cut…some states don’t even collect income tax. What a bizarre idea.

        You get a lot of it back if you are low income. They have to remove taxes as though they expect you to get that lump sum over and over again throughout the year. That’s how they estimate tax-owed and how tax brackets have to work to help make sure you don’t get a surprise tax bill after you spent all the money.

        1. Name (Required)*

          In some places in the world, tax is paid at the point of purchase (lottery tickets and horse racing bets). Winnings are, therefore, tax free.

          1. allathian*

            Yes. This is certainly true in the Nordics. We have high taxes in general, so many people are amazed to think that you can win millions tax free. That said, in some countries the lottery is run by a national monopoly, and its profits are used to support various non-profit programs, and the arts, sports, etc.

      2. 653-CXK*

        Usually there are two tiers when it comes to taxing lottery prizes:
        – Winnings of $600 ($1,200 for slots)-$5,000: most states do not withhold taxes (my state, Massachusetts, has withheld 5% immediately since 2004)
        – Winnings over $5,000: state, city and local withholding tax (if any), 24% federal withholding tax

        If you live in a state with no income tax, you’ll probably get 76%-100% of your winnings; in a high income tax state, 62-67% sounds more likely.

        1. 653-CXK*


          – Winnings of $600-$5,000: most states do not withhold taxes, but some do (my state, Massachusetts, has withheld 5% immediately since 2004)
          – Winnings over $5,000: state, city and local withholding tax (if any), 24% federal withholding tax.

          If you live in a state with no income tax, you’ll probably get 76%-100% of your winnings; in a high income tax state, 62-67% sounds plausible.

          And The Man, Becky Lynch, is correct – depending on your income level and tax bracket, you may get most or all of that the amount withheld back in the form of a refund.

        2. Cj*

          Withholding of your income taxes is just that. Withholding. It has nothing to do with your income tax liability. Just like what is withheld from your paycheck isn’t the same as your tax liability. It’s simply a credit against that liability.

          That 24% Federal withholding in no way reflects what you owe on those lottery winnings.

  8. Nea*

    I’ve got nothing re: Willow and Xander (great name choices!) but I will tell you OP – regardless of what’s happening, paying down a debt WAS the smart choice. Even now.

    1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      Yeah, but if I lose my job I can pause the payments, but I can’t guarantee I’ll get a job before my savings run out. It’s very stressful. Hindsight is 20- 20 though.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I hope that doesn’t happen. It’s generally a good idea to pay down debt first.
        But if your company is laying off, you might want to begin your search now if you feel like they might continue the cuts. I see that at my organization. First cuts were in August. I was spared due to my department, but I can’t say anything is safe right now.

        1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

          Oh trust me, I’m searching. It just seems like no one in my field is hiring. But yeah, I guess I did the best I could have at the time and I had no way of predicting the future.

      2. lazy intellectual*

        But you can’t tell the future. Prioritizing paying off debt was the right decision at the time. That is what you should do.

      3. Ali G*

        But you also reduced your future debt because now there is less principal to pay interest on (note – interest still accrues when payments are paused) and you can repay it sooner, if you don’t end up having to pause. Either way, future you is in better shape because of your payments.

      4. Mayflower*

        If you lose your job and you have savings, the government will make you spend down before you get any assistance. If you don’t have savings, your assistance can start right away. So don’t beat yoursef up, you made the right decision.

        1. Phoebe*

          I’m curious where you are because I’ve never heard of this before. From what I could find online it looks like in some states under certain circumstances, some retirement benefits may be deducted from your unemployment insurance. I couldn’t find anything about regular savings affecting unemployment payments though. I live in Georgia and I know that’s not true here.

          1. WS*

            It’s the case in Australia under normal circumstances. Some things are excepted like the value of your home and your superannuation, but above a certain amount of savings and no unemployment benefits for you.

        2. Lavender Gooms*

          Are you not in the US? In the US, unemployment payments have nothing to do with amount of savings available–only on income lost.

          1. history geek*

            They probably meant SNAP/EBT and rent help and such. You can only have so much in your bank account. (See also if you get SSI you can only have 2,000 dollars in savings).

    2. Malika*

      I agree. Pandemics will pass, obliteration of student loans will stay forever. It might feel foolhardy now, but this freedom will you give OP a certain freedom of mind during these stressful times.

    3. Funk*

      this is NOT to question the OP, who made the best decision they could at the time and can’t undo the past! But whether or not to pay down a debt faster than needed depends on a lot of factors such as
      1) what is the interest on the debt? Some debts have absurdly low interest that’s almost the same inflation. No need to hurry that
      2) if you put that money somewhere else, what interest could you get on that? (for example, I could pay down my house faster, but the interest is only 3.7%; if I put 10K in my kids college 529 plan, that often gets over 5% interest and I get a tax break; so it makes more sense to do that then to pay off my mortgage faster. If I have an extra 10K :P )
      3) do you have enough of a cushion that you have a low risk of needing a high interest loan if you don’t keep it liquid cash

      1. A Genunine Scientician*

        Even though student debt is often a lower interest rate than other debt, it also often makes sense to pay it down faster than certain other types of debt. If the worst happens, you may have to declare bankruptcy.

        Your student loan will not be discharged by bankruptcy. Debts on your primary residence, credit cards, medical bills, etc. typically will be.

        There are reasons it kind of has to be this way — otherwise, a huge number of recent graduates could declare bankruptcy, get their student debts cleared, and have all the damage to their credit rating repaired by 30 or so, eventually leading to no one being willing to loan money for education — but it leads to a pretty messed up system.

        1. pancakes*

          It doesn’t have to be that way at all. There are numerous countries where higher education is free.

  9. AnonInTheCity*

    I was on Jeopardy and it feels like a really, really big deal at the time but you’d be surprised how soon people forget. I didn’t get asked about it much after maybe the first week or two. I suspect this type of gossip will die down pretty quickly. You’re obviously not obligated to reveal financial details but when I mentioned I had used the money to pay off my student loans, I got a lot of, “Yeah, that makes sense” and no follow up questions.

    1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      Yeah, you’ve got a great point about everyone moving on to the next thing. I just have to keep my head down and wait for people to move onto other workplace gossip. Congrats on your Jeopardy win!

  10. Jennifer*

    And it may not be a popular opinion or logical but I can understand someone being a little salty about getting laid off if they knew an employee that kept their job was a rich kid with a trust fund. I get that companies make these kinds of decisions based on business needs, and that the OP is not a rich trust fund baby.

    Just pointing out that when you see a friend getting laid off during a pandemic into a horrible job market, emotion may win out over logic, at least at first.

  11. Judy Seagram*

    I agree with Alison and the prior commenters, to let it go if you don’t hear the gripes repeated. Layoffs make everyone feel insecure, and that comes out in some strange ways.

    But also, I was on a relatively famous game show many years ago, and am in a social media group with others who were on the show. Reading about their experiences, I’ll say that being on television also makes people react really strangely. The combination of brief fame, money that seems to have come easily (though the skills that won you that money took a lifetime to develop), and all sorts of other factors, can make people respond in ways that don’t necessarily make sense.

    Be proud of your win. Haters gonna hate.

    1. CurrentlyBill*

      That sounds like a fascinating group to be part of. I never though of Game Show Alumni as a group, but of course you are.

  12. MissDisplaced*

    Wow your coworkers are being some real jerks here and showing their ignorance. I’m sorry.

    My friend was on The Price is Right and won a new SUV plus some other household items. That sounds great until you realize that new “free” car will actually cost you $5k in sales taxes and other fees. LOL! My friend got lucky and sold the SUV to someone who wanted it for the cash (I think about $20k at the time), with which she bought a nice pre-owned sedan and paid some bills. So, yeah, after taxes, the money, while nice, isn’t as much of a windfall as they show on camera.

    1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      Yeah, I was shocked at how much the taxes were! Basically 1/4 of my winnings gone. But hey free money is free money, I can’t complain.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Exactly! It was a nice little windfall, but eh! you’re hardly gonna quit your job over it and move to Bermuda for the rest of your life! I hope all the taxes were already taken out and it doesn’t screw up your income taxes.

        I once got a tidy little sum of money because they used my house as a movie location for a week. Of course I spent it to pay bills, but I had to claim it as winnings, which meant I owed income tax because they didn’t deduct it from my payment.

        1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

          Yeah, a family friend is a tax lawyer, so they had me set aside the amount for taxes in a separate account, and then use the rest for my loans. That’s really cool that they filmed a show in your house!

      2. Phony Genius*

        And if your show is taped in California, they can’t give you any of the prizes until after you prove you’ve paid the taxes. (Except cash, since they can withhold the required amount.) Of course, you can decline a prize and avoid the tax.

        Plus, don’t forget the travel cost, spending of vacation time, etc.

      3. Cj*

        Since you won the money in 2020, you won’t really know how much it cost you in taxes until you file your income tax return next year.

        They may have withheld 25%, but once you and you’re other income, subtract your standard decoction or itemized deductions, and take into account your tax bracket, which are pretty low right now, you may actually have a pretty big refund coming.

    2. JohannaCabal*

      Reminds me of the time that Oprah gave her entire audience “free” cars that actually cost them money…

    3. Ama*

      My dad won a new car many years ago and he’s an accountant so he understood exactly what the tax implications would be. He always ends with the fact that he could have made quite a bit of money if he’d sold the car to the local dealership even after paying the taxes (at the time that particular model was backordered so they made him a very nice offer) but he’d literally never owned a new car in his entire life and certainly the taxes were cheaper than actually buying the car. But it always shocks people the first time they hear the story that “winning a new car” actually COST him about $6K.

    4. BuildMeUp*

      Yeah, I think most people don’t realize the pitfalls of winning prizes! If you win cash, you just need to know to set aside some of it for taxes. But any other prize – including vacation trips – counts as Miscellaneous Income and is taxable if it’s over $600.

      I remember around the time the final Harry Potter movie came out, there was a sweepstakes to win a trip to visit a bunch of locations across Europe where they filmed. The total value of the trip, with travel, hotel, etc., was something like thirty grand! The taxes you’d have to pay on that would practically pay for a trip to Europe.

      For cars, the best option is to see if it can be delivered to a dealership that will buy it from you. I think as soon as it leaves the lot it’s considered used and loses value.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yep! It’s tangible prizes that will kick your ass, more so than cash. I too have won a modest sum on TV and I heard all these horror stories about the taxes, but it wasn’t that bad. Because, yeah, you can set some aside and have it there when tax time comes. Can’t do that with a car or a lifetime supply of gum.

      2. Eliza*

        It’s interesting to me that the US taxes lottery and game show winnings; here in Australia, they’re not taxed *unless* you appear on game shows regularly and they consistently form a significant enough part of your income that “game show contestant” is effectively a job you have.

        1. Eliza*

          Not that it really matters to the OP, I guess; the co-workers’ reactions are equally unreasonable whether she ended up with $20k or $30k in her pocket.

      3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Quite often game shows give away a side order of cash when you win prizes – ostensibly to cover all taxes.
        A few years ago – one of the sports teams in town had a charity raffle for a championship ring.

        The ring’s value was $20,000. They finally realized that if they gave a cash prize with it – they’d get a lot more people playing the game because they wouldn’t have to worry about spending around $7,000 in taxes (it varies by your income). I think they gave away $10,000 with the ring, which was 33% of the total prize, which would cover the state and federal taxes for most middle-class Americans.

      4. history geek*

        That’s why you see a lot of these things come with cash prices now — to pay the taxes. HGTV learned this real quick on their house giveaways.

    5. Workerbee*

      I used to love watching Wheel of Fortune back when they had the revolving prize showcases and the winner would take forever to choose among the selections, and Pat would intone how much money they had left to spend—anyway, for that and the Price is Right, my dad would always comment, “And there’s a tax guy standing in the back of the studio.” :)

    6. NYWeasel*

      Back when “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” was first taping, I was trying super hard to get on bc the questions were relatively easy bc they wanted to give away the big prize. I made it to the second round of the screening, but messed up a question so I didn’t get on the show. (And on that episode I happened to know EVERY answer, sigh).

      Anyway, my coworkers were like “If you win, you’ll quit, right?!” And I kept having to answer “You realize that even if I win the million dollars, I’d barely afford a decent NYC apartment after taxes!” They never stopped to think about how a million dollars would net out to maybe $600K, which—even 21 years ago—was only a few years of decent salary in NYC. I mean, HELL YEAH it would have made a huge difference in my life if I’d won the $$, but it wasn’t enough for a 20-something to comfortably live their life out on!

  13. Richard Hershberger*

    Willow?!? Not Willow! She would never be so petty. She might, in her Dark Willow phase, decide to destroy the world. But she was never petty.

    1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      I mean after what happened to Tara, I can’t blame Dark Willow. But I just needed really obvious fake names, and I’m rewatching so I have Buffy on the mind.

    2. Seacalliope*

      I mean, in the pilot she told Cordelia that the “del” button was deliver… she was always super petty.

  14. Firecat*

    This is a know your office situation.

    In my former office, unfortunately this sort of gossip could absolutely hurt you. Raises, low worloads/scheduling, etc Gossip drove a lot of management decisions. That’s a terrible office environment, but if you aren’t sure where your office falls there is no harm catching up with your manager casually.

    Hey. I’ve heard some talk about how I would have been fine financially if I had been laid off. I wanted to let know that’s not true. The game show is old, the after tax penalty was much smler and frankly I’ve already spent it on paying down student loans.

  15. lazy intellectual*

    Wow. Like others have pointed out, those comments are both rude and illogical. I get that they like Buffy and feel bad for her, but they can grieve her loss while not throwing you under the bus. Even if they dislike you, it’s impolite to complain where you can overhear them.

    Personally, I would let it go and avoid Willow and Xander as much as possible unless their comments get too disruptive.

    1. lazy intellectual*

      Side note: I suspect that some of this is fueled by jealousy that you won a bunch of money. Now they’re pitting you against people who have been laid off as the “worse” one.

      1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

        Yeah, I think it’s just that everyone is really stressed right now. The layoffs didn’t seem to have much rhyme or reason, and it feels like anyone could be next. No one in the field seems to be hiring. I totally get being stressed and picking an easy target to get mad at, but it still hurts a bit.

  16. Black Horse Dancing*

    If it makes you feel better, OP, Buffy having a kid gives her much more accessibility to assistance than you, a child-free/less single person (if you are single) does, Many programs don’t assist unless you have children or put those families to the top of the list. Cash assistance, many housing programs, etc.

    1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      Yeah, that does make me feel a bit better. And I know she has a strong relationship with family in the area. But still, it’s not like she was a bad worker or anything, I’d say that we were basically identical productivity, education, and length worked. It really feels like they thought one of them has to go, and I’m just the one who wasn’t picked out of the hat.

      1. Amaranth*

        They may also see something in you that gave you a bit of an edge, so while I understand not wanting to hold yourself up as a ‘better’ choice, I think you could privately take it as a gesture of confidence in your abilities.

      2. Analyst Editor*

        It might be she was somehow paid more and therefore more expensive?
        I wasn’t laid off when my entire team was, and I would have been glad to, since I was planning to leave anyway…. I suspect it’s because they all had many years of experience and therefore higher salaries.

      3. Sparkles McFadden*

        Don’t sell yourself short. It’s likely they thought you could handle an increased workload better or that you’re more efficient. I don’t think you have to worry about management thinking you’re expendable because of office gossip. That’s not how these decisions get made (unless management is dysfunctional). Still, it’s hard to have your coworkers talking about you in this way and I’m sorry about that. It’s also hard to be spared and see others let go. Just keep on doing a good job!

  17. Ellen N.*

    I worked in finance for decades. Whenever I see a big deal made about the amount of money a contestant won on a game, I think “it’s going about half as much after taxes”.

    I look forward to seeing a contestant make that point.

    1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      It was like 1/4 went to taxes (although I am sure that has to do with the total sum of money won). But I can affirm, it felt like a lot.

  18. Amethystmoon*

    This is yet another good reason to reveal as little as possible about your personal life at work. I inherited something when my mother died when I was a teenager. Did it make me independently wealthy? No. Do I still need a paycheck? Yes. Do I still struggle some weeks to pay the bills because I am single? Yes. Sometimes, having a little bit of good luck does not necessarily mean we can quit our day jobs. I would absolutely pay off loans if I won that amount of money.

    1. Ellen N.*

      It’s not possible to keep it a secret that you won money on a game show that is broadcast on television.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I also think this is a very different thing. Many of us who do share about our private lives at work– most of us, I would argue– wouldn’t discuss things like inheritances. I don’t even talk about those things with my friends except in pretty abstract terms. I have no idea how much money most of my co-workers have but I do know the names of their children, where they’re from, their siblings’ names in some cases, etc.

      2. Paging Larry Bud Melman*

        Yep. A friend & I went to see David Letterman and my friend was given a pack of lightbulbs… even THAT triggered comments whenever the episode aired. I can’t imagine how much more talk it would generate to win something of taxable value…kind of put me off game shows to be honest.

    2. Anonymity*

      I’m such an advocate on revealing as little personal information at work. I’m friendly and polite but not open. I wouldn’t even have mentioned I was on a game show lol. Unless they watched they wouldn’t know.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Unless it was filmed where you already live, though, would you make up a whole fake cover story for why you needed off? Plus the local press tends to get involved. When I was on a show, (a) I told my department why I was going to be gone for a couple of days (the taping was only one day, but it involved plane flights that ate up most of the previous and next day, if I wanted to be rested at all) and (b) they mentioned it on the local news and in the paper, even if no one had watched the actual show.

        1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

          Yeah, the paper ran a story. But also I didn’t see much point in hiding it, it was a fun experience that I wanted to tell people about.

    3. Anon for this one*

      I inherited something when my mother died when I was a teenager. Did it make me independently wealthy? No. Do I still need a paycheck? Yes.

      Similar situation here, going anon for obvious reasons, I recently (few months ago) inherited a sum of several hundreds of thousands of dollars (or local equivalent) from the death of a relative, which I tried to keep quiet at work for just this reason: them thinking I don’t need the job any more.

      I had to request a day of PTO (it’s subject to approval) to attend the funeral; it was during a busy time where PTO typically wouldn’t have been approved, so in that sense I was forced to disclose what it was for, and the nature of the family relationship (parent).

      My co-workers know my background as being an “only child” etc so would have put 2 and 2 together and made 4 that I would inherit something which is why I didn’t want them to know.

      In retrospect I probably should have said nothing and then just had a “sick” day on the day of the funeral, “stomach bug can’t come in” or whatever, but I am too honest!

      I have put the money away and continue to live as I would have anyway. I still have debts and a mortgage that I could clear but I don’t because what would I do if I hadn’t inherited the money? It isn’t something that’s part of a life plan.

      Similarly if I’d won something on a game show I’d probably feel inclined to either sock it away or donate it…

      I’ve got to wonder what’s the motivation in going on a game show if OP has a good job and earns enough anyway — I can see that that could come off strangely to the employer.

      1. Jennifer*

        I wouldn’t necessarily assume that if someone’s parent died they were going to inherit a ton of money. Plenty of people die with nothing or leave debt behind. Based on the number of people that have to resort to raising money to pay for funerals and other end of life costs for relatives, I honestly think that’s more of the norm. As a coworker, my main concern would be expressing condolences for their loss.

        I’m sorry for your loss.

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        I’ve had to take bereavement leave — there was no need to discuss finances in it, just “my father died” or “my mother in law passed” or “my father in law is gone.”

        On all occasions, I was called into the office and reminded by my manager that my parent / parent-in-law policy allowed for three days’ leave. I took three at my father’s passing ( 1/2, 1/2 and two days) and two or three at my in-laws’.

        Nearly any company will not refuse PTO requests. It’s not that you ASK permission to go to a parent’s funeral, you TELL them you’re taking it.

      3. Media Monkey*

        do people really think that though? it honestly wouldn’t cross my mind if someone’s parent died to think about their financial gains as a result. i’d be more concerned with making sure they were OK (and have been dealing with this with a direct report these past couple of months).

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        When my mother died, I had some callous people remark on inheritance. “I’d rather have my mother back” shut down that conversations.
        I’m sorry for your loss.

    1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      Lucky! Y’all get free healthcare and tax-free winnings! Plus less Covid cases. I already drink tea and watch BBC, so I’m basically half-way there. If only I could convince someone to let me in lol. I like to think I’d be great at the Weakest Link.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        I lived near a now-defunct thoroughbred race track. And I worked with police officers that used to go there in uniform, and offer to accompany big winners home. For a fee, of course.

        The IRS also had an office there. If someone had a “big win” – the mutuel clerk (yes it’s MUTUEL) would press a button and when the winner stepped away from the window he’d be greeted “HI, we’re from the IRS”… he could pay the tax on it now, or pay it later, but they would record it.

        It’s now changed – they take the money right off the top of a big win and give you a W-4 or something similar. Same at a casino. And if you’re a Canadian at a U.S. casino you STILL pay tax but you can get it back/refunded.

        There also were guys at the track who were perennial losers who would turn in the ticket for you for a percentage of the take – they had enough provable losses to offset a big win. Whole different story.

      2. Media Monkey*

        free healthcare based on us paying national insurance on top of 20 odd percent tax on a lower salary and 40% on salary over about £55k. i wouldn’t change it but it’s not FREE free.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Well, less in terms of the total, but in terms of percentage of population it’s not really any better than the US/other countries.

        If you like tea, and this drafted crisis goes away, feel free to pop over and we can rave about Buffy and deplete my Assam/Darjeeling/Lapsang etc stocks.

        (Am a huge Giles fan. Met the actor several times as I live not far from his place)

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      You pay taxes on prizes too (such as cars). I’m not sure how true it is, but I’ve heard that many people actually end up owing money on game show prizes because they didn’t have the cash to pay for the taxes.

      1. Alldogsarepuppies*

        They usually give you the option to take the prize/trip or cash value. Always take the cash value so you can pay the taxes!

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Curiosity struck and I googled.

        Looks like The Price is Right doesn’t offer a cash-value option like Alldogsarepuppies mentions. So you get slammed with a tax bill.

        And since a lot of them are based in California, you get slammed with California tax on top of it even if you don’t live there.

    3. Kara S*

      You don’t pay it here in Canada, either. I always assumed that was why the prize for winning a show like Big Brother was so much more in the US .

    4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Yes, Canadians don’t pay taxes on winnings, either IIRC. When I get a phone scam that I’ve “won the Canadian Provincial Lottery” or something like that but only have to send some dough via Western Union to them – I say “I don’t have to pay taxes. Hey – I have a savings account in Dejardins (a bank) and give me your number, I’ll call you back, you just wire the money into that account and the U.S. IRS doesn’t have to know anything…”

      They start swearing, suggesting I should perform despicable acts on animals and they hang up.

  19. Bopper*

    “I know it sounds like a lot, but after taxes it barely made a dent in my student loans. I will just have to keep working! :-) but if anyone is interested in a lottery pool I am all in for that.”

  20. ObserverCN*

    Hi OP! Just wanted to say congrats on your game-show victory. I won two games on “Jeopardy!” eight years ago, and I too used the money to pay off some student loans. Don’t worry about your co-workers — they’re probably just jealous.

    1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      Thank you! Congrats on your wins! I like to think I’d be great at Jeopardy, but my gameshow was mostly luck-based. So really you did a much more impressive thing!

  21. ReproLawyer*

    I also won money on a cooking show and when people found out, it led to some snide comments about how I had to treat everyone to drinks now and I didn’t have to worry about loans because I won that money (I won $5,000 and I have $60,000 in loans so, I don’t know what math they’re doing).

    I realized pretty quickly that the people making those comments were people who were already rude and dismissive to me. And realizing that I was never going to impress them or make them see my side was very freeing, and other posters are right that people forget about it really quickly.

  22. AndersonDarling*

    By that logic, the CEO should be laid off because they have been raking in a huge salary for so long and they obviously don’t need any more money.
    But really, layoffs bring out the worst in the best of us. It’s likely that this was just a moment of bonding between two scared people. It’s unfortunate that you heard what was said, but if you were in the room then the conversation would have probably focused on another scapegoat. It’s likely just venting, and venting in tragedy isn’t logical.
    If you give them the chance to redeem themselves, I’m sure they will return to their normal selves.

    1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      Yeah, I’ve come to realize that they are just as scared of being next as I am. I am sure that they don’t personally hate me or anything. It’s just not a great feeling, being the scapegoat.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      if you were in the room then the conversation would have probably focused on another scapegoat

      … OP only said “I overheard”. I think it’s equally likely that for whatever reason, this conversation was held in known earshot of OP because of some motivation, and it wasn’t just accidental.

      Even if not — it’s useful information to know that team-mates are s**t talking OP like this.

      I understand venting of course, but I tend to think a lot of it has some basis in fact (or at least perceived fact) ultimately.

      1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

        They were in the break room, I was walking by, and I paused to fix my shoe. It’s hardly a conspiracy.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          You’ve got a good attitude, Slayer. That in itself is a good reason for a company to not lay you off.

    3. Anon for this*

      I get being scared of layoffs and of being next. (This is the situation we are having at my current job now. We’ve had two rounds of layoffs, in which, as we were told, the lowest performers were let go. But now we don’t have anymore lowest performers left, and it is everybody’s feeling that there will be more layoffs coming – so next time, it could be any of us. We all just save money like crazy, hone our work skills, and prepare for the worst.) But it would absolutely change the way I look at a coworker if they suggest, even to a friend, even once, that somebody else (name) should have been laid off or should be laid off next. All I’ll hear will be “I will not hesitate to throw you or anyone else under the bus whenever I get a chance”. This is the exact kind of person I’ve made a point of avoiding through my entire career (so far), because it is not safe to be around them. If it’s not layoffs, then it will be several people competing for a raise or a promotion (either in reality, or in their head) and there’s no telling what they’ll do to eliminate the “competition”. OP, I agree that they do not personally hate you, but I would not trust them either. If it helps, I bet they’ll turn on each other just as easily if they ever feel they’ll benefit from doing it.

  23. learnedthehardway*

    I think you’ve gotten good advice from Allison.

    One thing I’d add – you’d be wise to add in to whatever you do say – if you feel you have to – that you also feel badly for Buffy and hope that she’ll be okay. NOT that you are obligated to do so, or that you should be apologizing for not being laid off, but it might help how people perceive things to show empathy towards Buffy’s situation.

  24. whistle*

    OP, if you’re anything like me, as soon as you got that money you probably had an unexpected expense come up! I feel like every time I get some unexpected money, I end up needing to spend it on something I didn’t anticipate.

    Your coworkers are being ridiculous and I guarantee they wouldn’t volunteer for layoffs if they were in your shoes.

    1. Anonymity*

      Yes. Maybe they can volunteer for a lay off if they are so worried about it. That would shut them up.

  25. This One Here*

    I won on “Jeopardy!”, only one game. After California’s taxes off the top, then my state and federal later, it really didn’t amount to much, though it changed our tax bracket for the year I received it. We got a mattress, a TV, and a new vanity for our bathroom. Then I set aside a lot for taxes, which was smart.

    I didn’t work among people who talked about it, so that was good.

    It’ll soon be the 12th anniversary of me playing “Jeopardy!”, which was on Election Day 2008. My games aired on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

    1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      Congrats on your win!! My show was luck-based, so you did a much better job than I did! Did they let you vote on election day? It seems like a weird time to film a game show.

      1. This One Here*

        That One There (my husband) and I voted early; when I got the call saying I’d be on, they said they were calling the people who’d be in that group a little early, so we could handle our voting arrangement’s. “Jeopardy!” shoots on Tuesday and Wednesday, two weeks a month, shooting five shows on each shooting day. I was done on the first day, so on the Wednesday, That One and I went to Santa Monica pier, saw Muscle Beach and Palisades Park and other fun things.

    2. Call Me Dr. Dork*

      I won one game of Jeopardy!, just about a year after you. It was definitely weird being asked about holidays that were 3 months in the future….

      It was not a really large amount of money, but it did allow me to take a lower-paying job that next year when the episodes aired.

  26. Anonymous for this one*

    First off, congrats on the win. Alison’s answer is perfect.

    I won money on Jeopardy, and my coworkers were amazing about it. Of course, we weren’t dealing with layoffs, but I can’t imagine my colleagues reacting like that if we were. One thing has nothing to do with the other.

    We don’t know what each other’s financial situations are, and it’s none of their business. If it continues, I’d tell them to knock it off. It’s really not cool.

  27. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    OP, do you get the sense that your co-workers are hinting that you ought to “donate” some of the money to Buffy given the layoff situation? That’s the feeling I got from this letter.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I got the sense they want her to decline and allow Buffy to be rehired. Both are repugnant.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        And where Autocorrect placed “decline,” of course I meant “resign.”

    2. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      No, I think they were venting because they know how impossible it is to get a job right now, and they are scared they could be next. They both have kids, so seeing Buffy being laid off despite her kid is probably scary for them, because no one feels safe.

  28. Kristine*

    I’m in favor of saying nothing. But if they keep it up you could always offer to help them get on a game show. I’m being a bit facetious here, but winning in a game show took a lot of hard work plus uber knowledge and the ability to remain cool under pressure am I right?

  29. Anonymity*

    Your coworkers are petty. I’d not speak of the game show again. Hopefully it goes away. If it doesn’t I’d say to them “I won a couple of months salary after taxes. I paid bills with it. I certainly did not hit a jackpot so I’d appreciate it if the subject was dropped”.

    No to be rude but does anyone else get distracted by character names in letters? I’m glad it’s mostly falling to the wayside.

    1. Jennifer*

      Not petty but terrified of losing their jobs, I’d imagine.

      The character names I thought were funny and cute. Refreshing that someone didn’t use Game of Thrones characters for the 10,000th time.

  30. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    Out of interest, would the advice be similar if the letter-writer had won a much larger, life-changing sum but wanted to keep her job because of (insert reasons here: — something to get out of bed for in the morning, having a sense of purpose; to contribute positively to an organisation; wants to stay in the workforce in case of ‘unexpected circumstances in the future’, etc)?

    1. Jennifer*

      Not for me, unless the person being laid off was super incompetent. If we weren’t in a pandemic, I would probably feel differently. But it just feels heartless to lay off someone that has no other means of support while another person is independently wealthy and working just for the heck of it gets to keep their job. If both employees are fairly equal in terms of tenure and work ethic, I don’t think considering who needs the job more is out of line.

      1. Eliza*

        I don’t think it’s the employer’s place to assess the personal situation of each employee and how much they “need” a job. The answer depends too much on information that they simply don’t have a right to know. If employers should take into account the individual economic situation of each employee to determine how important the job is to them financially, should they also take into account the individual mental health situation of each employee to determine how important the job is to them psychologically? Seems to me that it’s better to not go down that road in the first place.

    2. nm*

      My opinion is no. The fact is even if OP “retired” with their winnings it wouldn’t mean that Buffy would get to keep her job. The company might just say “great! We can cut both their jobs and make these other coworkers pick up the slack”. Or the savings from not having to pay OP would get used in some other way besides keeping Buffy on, etc. It would be nice if one employee could “rescue” their pal, but OP doesn’t really have that power no matter how big the winnings are (unless they decide to buy the whole company, lol)

    3. Pretzelgirl*

      Maybe yes, maybe no. What is life changing? For some people like those that go to med school they have loans that get up into the $500,000+ plus range. What is life changing for some, isn’t life changing for others.

  31. Conspiracy-Industrial Complex*

    I inherited a decent amount of money a few years ago, but my wife and I told almost nobody about it specifically to avoid the kind of reaction that OP got. We’ve spent most of it on paying down our mortgage.

    1. Lifelong student*

      A co-worker of mine inherited a significant sum- actually a death benefit from a retirement plan. He had no idea how much it would be. I gave him a best estimate- and immediately told him to tell no one- and consult professionals about the best way to handle it.

    2. This One Here*

      My husband and I inherited from his mother. When I’m ready to retire, we’ll still be fine. My coworkers don’t know that.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, that brings up the other major limitation of trying to hire/fire/give raises to based on what you perceive to be people’s financial circumstances. All you know, as an employer, is what you pay them. You don’t know if they have an inheritance or a trust fund. You don’t know how much student loan or credit card debt they have. Apart from all the other pitfalls Alison laid out, you just don’t know.

  32. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Yeah, there can be factors of resentment, and they can be petty. And they can come from all levels. Even management might resent a professional or personal success of one of his/her subordinates.

    There might be a resentment over a lifestyle – or, even a subordinate’s financial security. For example = a senior level tech being financially successful due to investments and no bad life choices, one wife, no divorces or child support payments or alimony, debt free, etc. may have it all over his boss’ situation. He can take his family to Disney World for several days while his boss takes day-trips/staycations.

    Been there, been on the receiving end of that several times , and I didn’t win money on a game show or in a lottery.

    And keeping a job should have NOTHING to do with one’s personal financial situation. It *should* be on the basis of your ability to do the job. It doesn’t always work that way but it should.

  33. Six Feet Under Par: A Chip Driver Mystery*

    I get mad when people use the “they don’t need the money” as a reason for voting people off on Survivor. Ok, but the point of the game isn’t “who deserves $1 million the most” so that’s irrelevant. This is infuriating logic in the workplace

  34. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    I could chew tin foil over this one. During the great recession I went thru a spate of short-term jobs/layoffs. A (now former) friend would always respond to my news by saying someone else she knew also lost their job, “and THEY have KIDS,” as if that’s the only thing that made a job loss tough. Once she even said I was lucky to have lots of free time now (you know, “funemployed”). The heartlessness blew me away. I pointed out that I wasn’t on vacation and was spending that free time job hunting. Plus, since mine was a one-paycheck household, I now had big Cobra payments if I wanted to keep my health care. I couldn’t believe how startled she was to hear that.

    People can get mean and thoughtless when the ax is hovering. And even in the best of times, it’s awful to hear negative things being said about you by people you have to spend 8 hours a day with. You made the best financial decision you could at the time.

  35. Minnielle*

    Interestingly, in Germany companies who lay people off indeed have to consider who needs the job the most. Sure, they can decide that they will lay off 3 people from department X but which 3 people have to go is decided based on a point system. You get points for your age, how long you have worked for the company, how many kids you have, whether you are married etc. (but a game show wouldn’t matter!) and the employees who have the least points are the first ones to go. So basically young people without kids go first because they don’t have anyone depending on them financially and because they have the best chances to find another job. It is pretty crazy, although I get that it is meant to protect those who would suffer the most from lay-offs. Before I got promoted to a manager position, I would have been the first one to go from my team – despite being one of the best employees – because all others were either much much older than me or had more kids.

    1. teapot product analyzer*

      this is appalling! I don’t deserve to be able to feed myself any less than other people just because I don’t have kids.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      An OldJob (US) did something like this “accidentally on purpose” when they laid people off to replace them with offshore contractors. (Eye roll.) The randomly chosen people that they laid off, somehow all ended up being in their sixties. The way I was told about it was “they just went and laid off everyone older than 60”. It was not a good look, don’t know what they were thinking. They do have a generous severance policy that factors in the age and the years worked, so maybe they thought along the lines of “this person will get six months of severance, and then another couple of years later will be eligible for Medicare/Social Security, so they will be fine”? No idea. I wasn’t working there anymore when it happened.

  36. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    The more I see of how people react to learning of someone else’s windfall, the more I think it’s wisest not to tell anyone at work that you’ve won or inherited money. No good ever seems to come of it; envy and resentment are almost guaranteed. Even if you don’t have a supervisor like the one who nudged an employee to donate her work-trip casino winnings to the company (yes, that really happened – it was an old AAM letter!), finding out that someone else has suddenly come into money seldom brings out the best in human nature.

    Your personal finances are none. of. your. colleagues’. business. Keep it that way – everyone will be happier all around!

  37. MCMonkeyBean*

    OP – I just want to add: congrats on paying down your student loans! I’m not clear on whether you paid them fully off or just significantly decreased them but either way that’s great. I totally get that with layoffs in the air you feel like you’d be better off with that money in savings, but I recommend you not borrow worry from tomorrow on that front. When I came into a small inheritance a few years ago we used it to pay off my husband’s student loans, and not having to make that payment every month was a significant boon to our monthly budget (in addition of course to all the interest we were saving). Maybe you can get a bit of both worlds by putting the amount you used to pay monthly toward loans into your savings account for a while? And hopefully the fact that you are now basically a team of one will provide you some security for at least a while.

    1. The gameshow slayer (OP)*

      I didn’t pay them completely off, but I did save myself like five years of debt, so that’s really exciting!!

  38. Trixie, the Great and Pedantic*

    I would keep it in the back of your mind, but not worry about it unless something else comes up that makes you think it would be relevant. If it does come up, or if they’re more direct about it (like Wishverse Willow direct) then you can be like, “If I’d known something like this was coming, I wouldn’t have spent it all on paying off student loans!” Someone else suggested expressing sympathy for Buffy, and since it sounds like you had a good working relationship with her, that could be good too.

    I would, however, avoid extraneous discussion of it. I don’t know if any of your co-workers have questions about the experience (mine did) but it might be something you have to not talk about even now when you can talk about it (which would be SO frustrating if your contract was similar to mine and there was only so much you could say before airdate).

    Paying off student loans with game show money is the best feeling. I remember breaking down in tears of joy at LAX realizing that my loans were done as soon as that check came in.

  39. Spicy Tuna*

    Years ago, I worked for a company that was going through a reorganization. Most people would have to relocate to a different part of the state if they wanted to keep their jobs. A few roles would stay local. My role was one of the “stay local” roles. I was also the only person in the office that was single and didn’t have kids. Everyone in the office was very vocal about the idea that I should offer to move so that others with kids and spouses that had jobs could stay local. Setting aside that my job was very different than the jobs that were required to relocate, it just doesn’t work that way! I had a bad relationship with nearly everyone in that office, so I pretty much ignored the chatter. It was helpful because I knew that management would never approve a “job swap” when the jobs were so different. But OP, rest assured, only in the most toxic of workplaces would a manager consider laying off people based on need or personal situation versus talent or skill.

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