Sometimes, it seems like lottery winners always end up losing it all. But while some do, there are success stories of people who have successfully managed windfalls and broken the so-called “lottery curse.” While you may never be lucky enough to buy the winning ticket, you can learn a lot from the stories of these smart winners and use that knowledge to manage your finances more efficiently.
Lottery winners who are still rich include Brad Duke, Peter Lavery, Mark Brudenell, Les Robins, Cynthia Stafford, Donald Lawson, Phillip Pina, Deana Sampson, Neal Wanless, Dean Allen, Dean Hardman, and Gareth Bull.
In the rest of this article, we’ll explore the success stories of these people to help you learn a few things about managing large sums of money. Let’s dive right in.
Brad Duke from Idaho, US, was fairly well off before winning the lottery; he was a manager at a fitness center named Gold Gym in Treasure Valley and had already bought a house.
After winning the Powerball jackpot in 2005, he decided to keep his job before eventually quitting to focus on charity and his investments in low-risk bonds, real estate, gas, and oil.
He hasn’t earned his billion yet, but he’s doubled his capital. A word of advice from him on leaving a legacy as a lottery winner: ”I’m a goal-oriented person. One of the goals that I had put out there for myself after this was to try and make the most of this opportunity and not squander the gift that’s been given to me and try to grow it something I can leave behind, leave a legacy behind.”
Peter Lavery from Belfast was a humble bus driver earning less than $250 a week before winning £10 million in the National Lottery in 1996.
He has since tripled his wealth by venturing in several businesses, including a partnership with Cooley Whiskey Distillery to produce Danny Boy, a well distilled blended Irish whiskey brand that’s known for its exquisite scotch taste.
While his business acumen has seen him accumulate more than 30 properties across Northern Ireland and multiple housing developments over the years, he’s most proud of his whiskey distillery in one of the wings of the notorious Crumlin Road Jail in Belfast. In his words, the whiskey investment “is like winning the lottery all over again.”
Brudenell was working as a chemical tanker driver when an incredible lottery win turned his life around in 1997. He won £917,000 through National Lottery’s Lotto, after which he decided not to fall into the usual lottery-champ-gone-broke cliche.
With the help of his spouse Cheryl (who worked as a local bakery manager before the win), Brudenell set up a double glazing business. The couple has been running the business for over a decade, employing more than ten people in the process.
And while most of their winnings went into their business, they spared some for a superb home and two vehicles: Range Rover Sport and an Audi A5. Life’s a breeze for the delightful couple and they appreciate each other deeply to date.
Les Robins didn’t just break the lottery curse; he also set the bar high for being an unselfish lottery winner.
When he bagged a whopping $111 million in the 1993 Powerball jackpot, the former middle school teacher decided to use his winnings to set up Camp Winnegator, a day camp for kids to enjoy quality time away from cellphones and TV.
The camp has operated successfully for over two decades, giving kids a fun way to disconnect from technology through painting, swimming, horse riding, sports, and nature walks. It opens for five weeks each summer, and Robins remains an idol for using his winnings to do some good for the community. And while he did use a significant chunk of his winnings to set up the camp, he’s still doing well financially.
Former programming account official Cynthia Stafford believes that the law of attraction had something to do with her winning $112 million in 2007. For three years, she had been keeping a note that read “$112 million” under her pillow before winning that exact amount in the Powerball jackpot.
After winning, she invested in a film creation company known as Queen Nefertari Productions and purchased a 4000 sq.ft. pool house in the Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles. While she did end up filing for bankruptcy in 2016 after struggling in the film industry, she still owns an asset in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country and has been very philanthropic over the years.
Mechanic Philip Pina always lost more than a couple hundred dollars on lottery tickets until 2007, when he won $29.5 million via the Powerball Lottery. He nearly passed up his reward, too, having earlier discarded the winning ticket earlier. Luckily, he managed to track it down and later collected his winnings.
With the money, Pina exchanged his twofold wide trailer for a 3,000-square-foot home and redesigned his automotive shop. He has since duplicated his riches doing what he loves most (fixing cars) and leads an exciting life that involves lots of travel.
Michigan’s Donald Lawson had always joked about winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Michigan Powerball lottery (he even pranked his mother about the same on several occasions), but he never expected to bag hundreds of millions.
So when he finally won the largest lottery in the history of Michigan in 2012, his family was a bit hesitant to quit their jobs as he requested after getting the life-changing news. But to their surprise, this wasn’t one of the pranks they had come to expect from Donald over the years: he had actually won $337 million through the Powerball jackpot.
He has since stayed true to his promise of leading a simple life, putting his children through college, and seeing his whole family resign from their day jobs, all without going bankrupt.
Deana Sampson was a versatile beautician when she won $8.5 million in the 1996 Lotto jackpot. She put resources into an online undergarments business, opened a bar, and got snared into the eatery business. She also has a wellbeing investment property portfolio, lives in an extravagant house, and drives a Porsche.
But while life might be a breeze for Deana today, she’s afraid to imagine what it would’ve been like if she hadn’t purchased the lucky ticket. Speaking at the post office that sold it to her (where she’s left her “lucky handprint” for other lottery players to rub), she admitted that her lucky break was much needed because life before had been “a struggle.”
She had lost her first husband in a road accident, as well as a baby at two months. Weeks before buying the lucky ticket, she also lost Glyn, her disabled brother, who had been struggling with epilepsy. According to her, Glyn came back in a dream to inform Deana that she was close to striking it rich. And sure enough, she bought the winning ticket days later when she passed by the post office to pick up her child benefit.
Recently, she came up with an innovative way of training disability support dogs while also getting her daily exercise during the COVID-19-induced lockdown. She does that through a charity organization known as Support dogs, which she says resonated with her due to her late brother’s condition. The charity is dedicated to supporting individuals with a range of conditions that include epilepsy.
Things were looking bleak for Neal Wanless in 2009. Property taxes were piling up, he was unable to make basic repairs in his ranch, and the 23-year-old cowboy was struggling to sell scrap metal to boost his income. Long story short, he was among the poorest people in Todd County, South Dakota.
That was until he decided to stake $5 of his hard-earned money on a Powerball ticket while on a feed run. He selected all the numbers he used for the five plays from the birth dates of family members, a risk that soon paid off handsomely when he won $88 million (after-tax) in the Powerball jackpot.
Neal used part of his winnings to help the needy in his community and used the rest to buy ranch property near Vale. Soon after, he moved and is keeping a low profile to date.
26-year old Dean Allen from Tilbury, Essex, was working as a printer when he scooped up £13.8 million courtesy of the Lotto in 2000. He quickly revealed his enthusiasm for vehicles by trading his Ford Fiesta for a Porsche and married Louise, who he had been dating for a while before the win. Today, the couple lives in a five-room house in Essex with their two kids.
Since the windfall, Dean has driven a range of exquisite cars, including a a Porsche GT3, Bentley GT Speed, Ferrari 550, Range Rover Evoque and an Audi RS4. But in the midst of all the extravagance, the couple has spared some money for charity.
For instance, their donations helped Harlow-based Princess Alexandra hospital purchase a machine that helps doctors gauge the flow of intravenous drugs. Incredibly, that same machine helped treat one of their daughters when she had breathing difficulties.
The couple also bankrolled the purchase of a heart and lung machine for London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green and bolstered the Little Haven Hospice in Southend.
Former a foreman at neighborhood carpentry in Rochdale, Dean, won £6.75million in 2006 and jump-started his life as a lottery victor by purchasing a new home, a few exquisite vehicles that include an Audi R8 sports car, and season tickets for his favorite soccer team, Bury Football Club.
He also tied the knot with Stella, and together, they still manage their pub in Heywood, The Crown Inn. The couple is adamant that they’ve thought about moving, but decided against it because their pub helps them stay in touch with lifelong friends.
In addition to The Crown Inn, the couple also invested in their passion for horse racing by first buying “Stanley Rigby” (a racehorse named after Dean’s grandfather) and, most recently, “Grandad’s World” which they hope will be winning its first race at Pontefract Races.
Mansfield’s Gareth and his significant other, Catherine, had an incredible beginning to 2012 when they scooped the big-stake EuroMillions jackpot of £40,627,241. Gareth, an independent construction contractor at the time, purchased his ticket spontaneously when he was unable to begin structural work on account of bad weather.
The couple, who lived in their dream family home with two kids before encountering marital problems, spent most of their winnings taking care of their family and rewarding themselves. They bought a Range Rover Autobiography, an extravagant Villa in Tenerife, and a Mercedes 350. They also toured various parts of the world, including Mexico and Egypt.
They invested the rest of their prize in various businesses and charities. Gareth also took up the position of chairman in Sherwood Colliery, a local soccer team that plays in the 10th tier of professional English football. Through his hands-on approach to leadership, he hopes to help steer the team to more success in domestic and European competitions.
How to Break the “Lottery Curse”
Picture this: The night’s winning numbers are rolling on the TV screen, and each number matches the digits on your ticket. Your enthusiasm is building, your heart is pounding, and adrenaline is siphoning. After a couple of moments of uncertainty and skepticism, you come to terms with the fact that you’ve cashed in big, and your life might never be the same again.What should you do to ensure you don’t squander the opportunity to change your life?
Mind Your Taxes
The first thing you should do after winning the lottery is to think about Uncle Sam’s share of your prize. Typically, the government takes almost half of the lottery prize right off the top. While there’s little you can do about that, you can save a lot on the tax expenses of many of your major purchases by investing in a financial planner and a lawyer.
Protect Your Winnings
More often than not, lottery winners have to deal with people trying to get a piece of their hard-won cash. They get hit with an influx of investment opportunities, charity organizations, and con artists looking to reap where they didn’t sow, not to mention security threats such as theft.
To protect your winnings against all these risks, you might want to collect your prize anonymously. While you do need a name and face to collect some lottery prizes, some states allow winners to hide their identities for security purposes. If this isn’t an option in your state (or you can’t miss the chance to rub your success in your childhood bully’s face), you’ll need to learn to use the most important word in the vocabulary of a lottery winner: No.
Choose a Single Payout
While it might mean getting less cash, a one-time payout is often recommended because it means you won’t have to hang tight for several decades to get your money.
Even if you have no problem with the wait, collecting your lottery winnings in installments comes with one major risk. In the unfortunate event that you pass away before you’re done collecting the installments, your next kin could be left with a strong expense bill because Uncle Sam will expect estate tax on the estimated value of the remaining installments.
Create a Stable Income Stream
The key to staying rich after a windfall is ensuring your winnings keep on winning for you. In other words, you need to structure your money into annuities that’ll ensure a stable stream of income. With the help of a financial advisor, diversify your investments, liquidity, insurance, and income.
With your income streams mapped out, figure out how much you’ll give to friends, family, and charity. Don’t forget to create a personal spending plan based on your projected income. Decide what amount can be spent a month to month costs, the amount to spare, and what amount can be assigned to optional assets.
Consider Hiring a Publicist
If you choose to go public after a windfall, you’ll need a good PR team to handle the public attention that comes with such a move. They’ll help you with things like scheduling interviews, maintaining the right public image in person and online, managing press calls, and handling door knocks.
As a lottery winner, saying no can be just as stressful as saying yes, and a professional PR team will take off the pressure of both.
While winning the lottery is all luck, keeping your fortune long term is all smarts. You need sound financial planning, moderate philanthropy, and sensible expenses to avoid falling into the usual lottery-champ-gone-broke cliche.
Lucky for you, you can learn from the success stories of lottery winners like Brad Duke, Peter Lavery, Mark Brudenell, Les Robins, Cynthia Stafford, Phillip Pina, Donald Lawson, Dean Sampson, Dean Allen, Dean Hardman, Gareth Bull, and Neal Wanless. Even if you don’t end up winning the lottery, you can apply their financial planning and management skills to manage large sums of money from other sources.