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Lottery winner claims simplicity is key to happy life

After the Big WinAfter the Big Win: Lottery winner claims simplicity is key to happy life

Jim Hall from Troy, New York says he's the same man he was before he hit the New York Lottery for $65 million five years ago.

"I'm still the same miserable (SOB) I always was," he said as we kicked back on his porch on a wet Friday night.

Jim is a big man with a deep voice and lifetime memberships in the National Rifle Association and Safari International. He's got the firepower to prove it.

But there's a softness the laid-back 67-year-old can't hide. You can see it in the house Jim and Vivian, his wife of 37 years, remodeled on a pretty 84-acre hillside they bought outside Troy after they hit the lottery.

"She wanted someplace where she could look out the window and see her horses," Jim said. Vivian and her five horses enjoy state-of-the art stalls attached to an 80-foot by 120-foot indoor riding arena Jim had built above the house.

You can also judge a man by his dogs. Jim has two Australian shepherds, Hemi and Teddy, and they adore him.

Dogs don't like miserable people, much less SOBs.

Born on a farm near Canton, Jim earned a living in a foundry and as a mechanic, welder, truck driver and heavy equipment operator before he retired to his home in "downtown Springfield."

Springfield is about eight miles over the hill from his new house. Jim also gave Uncle Sam's Army three years, serving almost two-thirds of his hitch in Germany.

Fate was on his side when the New York Lottery ran its second Millennium Millions in October 2000. Jim bought some gas and a single lottery ticket at the Dandy Mini Mart in Wellsburg.

He found out he was a winner the next Sunday when he and Vivian drove to the Wellsburg Diner for breakfast. En route, they chatted about what they'd do if they hit the lottery, Vivian said.

She waited in the Jeep while Jim went into the Mini Mart to have the lottery machine check his ticket.

Ironically, the numbers were so faint, he couldn't read them.

"They said it was a winner. I said, 'OK.' "

OK?

"I don't get excited about a hell of a lot," Jim said. "Something like that takes a long while to settle in."

Others were not as calm.

"Some woman shook my hand and said she'd never met a winner and out the door she went," Jim said.

At first, he was told he'd won $15 million but he'd have to wait until Monday to call the lottery for confirmation. Vivian put the ticket in a zippered part of her purse.

She went to work at Citizens & Northern Bank in Athens that Monday morning.

Jim showed up at the bank about 10 a.m.

"You'd better sit down," he said, before he told her the pot was not $15 million but $130 million.

Jim and a Brooklyn schoolteacher each got half.

Lottery personnel got real excited, Jim said.

"They wanted to get us in a motel, so people didn't bother us. Didn't bother us anyway. Didn't know where we were."

Then it was on to Syracuse to certify the ticket. The Halls balked when asked to journey to New York City for publicity's sake.

"Ain't never lost anything in that place anyway," Jim said. He wanted to do the publicity bash in Wellsburg.

The lottery offered a limo for the trip to New York, but the Halls didn't want to ride. An airplane was out because they don't like to fly.

The Halls agreed to the trip after Jim ran out of excuses not to go, Vivian said, and the lottery produced a 28-foot motor home.

Jim opted to take his winnings in annual installments and hired an accountant, lawyer and financial adviser to handle his affairs.

As you might expect, the Halls got lots of calls looking for money. Telemarketers found out that the verbal abuse wasn't worth it if they called a second time, Jim said.

"You get a lot of wing-dings, people who try to buy you out (annuities) for 60 cents on the dollar."

One of the first things the Halls bought was the hillside property they now call Millennium Acres. It is the perfect base for their favorite things - horses for Vivian, hunting and golf for Jim.

The four-bedroom house is beautifully remodeled but not air- conditioned. Vivian does her own cleaning and cooking.

The grounds complement the house with rich lawns, flower beds and a putting green. Jim does the mowing and plowing.

The Halls really enjoy being at home where jeans and T-shirts are uniform of the day.

"I got just about everything I want," Jim said.

"I got my horses at home and can enjoy life without any worries," Vivian said. "Everyday is Saturday."

She uses her horses and arena to help four children with disabilities through therapeutic riding. Today, one of her kids can ride independently and another can handle a horse-drawn cart.

The Halls have indulged themselves in a few things that could be called luxuries. A cruise to Alaska was one of the first.

"It was semi-exciting," Jim said. "Didn't see any game."

A couple of hunting trips did produce game. One building at Millennium Acres houses a trophy room with two mounted bears - a black bear Jim bagged in British Colombia and a brown bear his 33-year-old son, Adam, shot in Alaska.

Jim has booked a Northwest Territories polar bear hunt in 2008.

The trophy building also houses the virtual golf course he uses when the weather keeps him from Tomasso's Chemung Golf Course in Waverly, his favorite local course.

The virtual course runs on a Windows 98 program. Jim can electronically play 48 golf courses ranging from Banff Springs to Pebble Beach to St. Andrews.

Believe me, it is real. When Jim drives a ball into the wall-sized screen, the electronics pick it up and moves it down the fairway just like it was on the course Jim selected. One drive went 238 yards.

Same goes for chips and putts. He can play 18 holes in about an hour.

Winning the lottery has resulted in some toys for the Halls.

Vivian has her PT Cruiser convertible. Among Jim's toys are a big four-door Dodge Ram pickup, a bulldozer and a showroom condition 1962 Jeep pickup.

"Looked nice, so I said I think I'll have one of those," Jim said. My favorite is his 2002 Chrysler Prowler, the last year they were made.

"They were supposed to make 300 of these," he said. "They only made 250."

Jim's got about 500 miles on it.

As you can see, the Halls didn't make the same mistakes other lottery winners have. They didn't take the much reduced "lump sum." They didn't spend themselves into bankruptcy.

They pretty much live the same life they did before, except, of course, the security and independence well-managed money can bring.

Jim pondered a while when I asked him if he's any happier than he was before the win.

"I don't know," he said. "I ain't any sadder. Let's put it that way."

Elmira Star-Gazette

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18 comments. Last comment 9 years ago by LOTTOMIKE.
Page 1 of 2
jeffrey's avatar - moon
Hamilton, OH
United States
Member #4162
March 27, 2004
277 Posts
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Posted: June 14, 2005, 2:12 pm - IP Logged

The only thing money can't buy is poverty. Anybody who says anything different is a fool. I know I will have a lot of detractors but that is what I think. Glad they aren't spending it hand over fist but I think lump sum with good investment is better when it gets over 4 million.

    whodeani's avatar - lightening

    United States
    Member #2484
    October 9, 2003
    212 Posts
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    Posted: June 14, 2005, 3:16 pm - IP Logged

    "As you can see, the Halls didn't make the same mistakes other lottery winners have. They didn't take the much reduced "lump sum." "

    Maybe before this person wrote this story he/she should have taken the time to familiarize himself/herself with how lottery payouts work. When you take the the lump sum, you are getting the same exact amount the lottery commission starts out with if you chose the annuity and money is put in an account which draws interest and it will grow to $65 million. The only difference is when the cash option is taken the taxes are taken out immediately. With the annuity the taxes are taken out as each installment is paid to the winner. Your payout isn't reduced by taking the cash option. In my opinion, the payout is reduced if you select the annuity because in 26 years when you received all your money have you really gotten $65 million? The answer is no. Sure you received $65 million dollars in payments (minus the taxes) but not $65 million as it was 26 years ago. $65 million 26 years from now isn't worth $65 million today. The real "reduction" is in taking the annuity.


      United States
      Member #379
      June 5, 2002
      11296 Posts
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      Posted: June 14, 2005, 3:29 pm - IP Logged

      NY still requires the cash/annuity choice to be made when you PLAY.

        LOTTOMIKE's avatar - cash money.jpg
        Tennessee
        United States
        Member #7853
        October 15, 2004
        11334 Posts
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        Posted: June 14, 2005, 4:48 pm - IP Logged

        good for him.

          wizeguy's avatar - animaniacs04

          United States
          Member #15143
          May 10, 2005
          389 Posts
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          Posted: June 14, 2005, 7:35 pm - IP Logged

          A belated congrats to the winner!


            United States
            Member #379
            June 5, 2002
            11296 Posts
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            Posted: June 14, 2005, 7:38 pm - IP Logged

            The guy was already in his 60s when he hit.

              Avatar
              Redmond WA
              United States
              Member #5966
              July 29, 2004
              71 Posts
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              Posted: June 14, 2005, 8:43 pm - IP Logged

               

               I think it's safe to say that he is not related to Jack Whittaker.


                United States
                Member #379
                June 5, 2002
                11296 Posts
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                Posted: June 14, 2005, 8:44 pm - IP Logged

                Mr Whittaker knew to choose cash.

                  dvdiva's avatar - 8ball

                  United States
                  Member #2338
                  September 17, 2003
                  2063 Posts
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                  Posted: June 14, 2005, 10:26 pm - IP Logged

                  I would say winning a lot of money would be the key. I love when people with a lot of money claim that the key to happiness is simplicity. Easy to say when you don't have to struggle for your meager paycheck anymore.

                    Avatar
                    metro Atlanta area
                    United States
                    Member #4122
                    March 23, 2004
                    45 Posts
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                    Posted: June 15, 2005, 1:19 am - IP Logged

                    I'm glad they didn't take the lump sum.  People can argue all they want about taking the cash -- but these people are getting a nice stream of income  -$1.5 - 2.0 million a year AFTER TAXES.  If they don't spend all of it each year, they can invest the remainder to make even more money.  If they do spend it all, then they have more coming the next year.  Simple and keeps you from doing something stupid with all your money.  And they hired financial advisors, probably to get less of a tax bite.  When you hear about all the other lottery winners who blow all their money, you have to admit many people just can't handle having all that money burn a hole in their pockets.  So, it's smart to take the annuity like this. 

                    For all the bright people who think they can invest the money better than the lottery organization, fine.  But, by the time you get through blowing your first few million, you would have LESS to invest, so I'm not sure you could do better. 

                    Also, having an annuity income gives you an excuse for all the friends and relatives who want a share.  "Hey, I've only got $2 million to live on this year.  Sorry."

                      Avatar
                      Greenwich, CT
                      United States
                      Member #4793
                      May 24, 2004
                      1822 Posts
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                      Posted: June 15, 2005, 10:10 am - IP Logged

                      Taking the present cash value and investing will get you more money over time than the lottery's annuity.  Plain and simple.  Cash now = more money.  Why is this so tough?

                        Avatar
                        metro Atlanta area
                        United States
                        Member #4122
                        March 23, 2004
                        45 Posts
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                        Posted: June 15, 2005, 10:18 am - IP Logged
                        There's theory and there's reality.  the theory of taking the cash and investing is good, but the reality is you will spend some of that cash right now -- probably more than you should because you have so much.  Before you realize it, $10 million is gone in the first year.  Cars, trips, clothes, houses -- for yourself and some family.  Nothing wrong with that, but then you won't have "more" money at all than if the lottery invested it for you.  Because you have less to invest.
                        You have to admit there's a problem with people not being able to handle suddenly being rich.  I'd rather live on 26 installments, and be rich enough each year than take the chance I'd end up like those HUNDREDS of people you see in those "where are they now?" lottery news stories. 
                          emilyg's avatar - cat anm.gif
                          Miss Kitty

                          United States
                          Member #14
                          November 9, 2001
                          27986 Posts
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                          Posted: June 15, 2005, 12:44 pm - IP Logged
                          There's theory and there's reality.  the theory of taking the cash and investing is good, but the reality is you will spend some of that cash right now -- probably more than you should because you have so much.  Before you realize it, $10 million is gone in the first year.  Cars, trips, clothes, houses -- for yourself and some family.  Nothing wrong with that, but then you won't have "more" money at all than if the lottery invested it for you.  Because you have less to invest.
                          You have to admit there's a problem with people not being able to handle suddenly being rich.  I'd rather live on 26 installments, and be rich enough each year than take the chance I'd end up like those HUNDREDS of people you see in those "where are they now?" lottery news stories. 

                           

                                                          I Agree!

                          love to nibble those micey feet.

                           

                                                       

                            Avatar
                            metro Atlanta area
                            United States
                            Member #4122
                            March 23, 2004
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                            Posted: June 16, 2005, 3:57 am - IP Logged

                             

                            another person who took the cash instead of the annuity...

                             

                            Lottery winner turns thief after blowing cash


                            Tue Jun 14, 2005 11:23 AM ET

                            BERLIN (Reuters) - A German lottery winner who blew all his winnings decided he was better off supplementing his income as a thief than claiming welfare benefits, a court in the central town of Meiningen said on Tuesday.

                            The court said shortly after the man had frittered away the last of his prize worth around 760,000 euros ($921,000) by autumn 2003, he turned to robbery, looting cars and houses for sums as small as one euro.

                            "He's confessed to about 60 offences," said a spokesman for the court. "He would break in to see how much money they had -- I guess you could say it was a kind of lottery too."

                            The spokesman added the 49-year-old, who stopped working after his cash bonanza in 1997, had said he was too ashamed to go to the welfare office after the money ran out.

                            "He didn't want it known he'd spent it all."

                            The court said he faces a jail sentence of several years.