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Big lottery winners offer advice, cautionary tales as $500M Powerball drawing approaches

After the Big WinAfter the Big Win: Big lottery winners offer advice, cautionary tales as $500M Powerball drawing approaches
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COLUMBIA, Mo. — So you just won the $500 million Powerball jackpot, the second highest in lottery history. Now what?

Perhaps it's time for a tropical vacation or a new car. There are bills to pay, loans to settle, debts to square.

Past winners of mega-lottery drawings and financial planners have some more sound advice: Stick to a budget, invest wisely, learn to say no and be prepared to lose friends while riding an emotional roller-coaster of joy, anxiety, guilt and distrust.

"I had to adapt to this new life, "said Sandra Hayes, 52, a former child services social worker who split a $224 million Powerball jackpot with a dozen co-workers in 2006, collecting a lump sum she said was in excess of $6 million after taxes. "I had to endure the greed and the need that people have, trying to get you to release your money to them. That caused a lot of emotional pain. These are people who you've loved deep down, and they're turning into vampires trying to suck the life out of me."

The single mother kept her job with the state of Missouri for another month and immediately used her winnings to pay off an estimated $100,000 in student loans and a $70,000 mortgage. She spent a week in Hawaii and bought a new Lexus, but six years later still shops at discount stores and lives on a fixed income — albeit, at a higher monthly allowance than when she brought home paychecks of less than $500 a week.

"I know a lot of people who won the lottery and are broke today," she said. "If you're not disciplined, you will go broke. I don't care how much money you have."

Lottery agencies are keen to show off beaming prize-winners hugging oversize checks at celebratory news conferences, but the tales of big lottery winners who wind up in financial ruin, despair or both are increasingly common.

There's the two-time New Jersey lottery winner who squandered her $5.4 million fortune. A West Virginia man who won $315 million a decade ago on Christmas later said the windfall was to blame for his granddaughter's fatal drug overdose, his divorce, hundreds of lawsuits and an absence of true friends.

The National Endowment for Financial Education cautions those who receive a financial windfall — whether from lottery winnings, divorce settlements, cashed-out stock options or family inheritances — to plan for their psychological needs as well as their financial strategies. The Denver-based nonprofit estimates that as many as 70 percent of people who land sudden windfalls lose that money within several years.

"Being able to manage your emotions before you do anything sudden is one of the biggest things," said endowment spokesman Paul Golden. "If you've never had the comfort of financial security before, if you were really eking out a living from paycheck to paycheck, if you've never managed money before, it can be really confusing. There's this false belief that no matter what you do, you're never going to worry about money again."

David Gehle, who spent 20 years at a Nebraska meatpacking plant before he and seven ConAgra Foods co-workers won a $365 million Powerball jackpot in 2006, used some of his winnings to visit Australia, New Guinea and Vietnam. He left ConAgra three weeks after he won, and now spends his time woodworking and playing racquetball, tennis and golf.

But most of his winnings are invested, and the 59-year-old still lives in his native Lincoln. He waited for several years before buying a $450,000 home in a tidy neighborhood on the southern edge of town.

"My roots are in Nebraska, and I'm not all that much different now than I was before," Gehle said. "I'm pretty normal. I never was the kind of guy who went for big, expensive cars or anything like that. I just want something that runs."

In the first year after he won, Michael Terpstra would awaken many nights in a panic. Had he slept in? Was he late to work the night shift?

"At times I'd wake up and this would all seem like a dream," the 54-year-old said. "I'd have to walk around the house and tell myself, I did win. I'm not working anymore, and I do live here. I didn't get drunk, break into someone's house and go to sleep. This is where I'm supposed to be."

His new home is a roomy, two-story house in south Lincoln with a big-screen television and paintings of Jesus on the walls. He no longer uses alarm clocks and spends his days taking his 92-pound black lab, Rocco, on walks.

He was terrified when he first won, convinced that he would lose all of the money and have to return to work. So he lives carefully off the interest from conservative investments, with help from accountants and lawyers. He bought the new house and a truck, but struggles to name any extravagant purchases.

"I can't buy a super yacht. I can't buy a Gulfstream," he said. "Then again, I don't think I'd use either one, so why would I buy one?"

That said, some mega-winners still can't resist the lure of big jackpots, at least not the two-buck chances. On Tuesday, former ConAgra worker Dung Tran, a Vietnamese immigrant, walked into the same Lincoln U-Stop where he purchased the winning ticket six years ago and bought 22 more from the very employee who sold him the first prize-winner, said cashier Janice Mitzner.

"We joked about it," she said. "I told him, 'Wouldn't it be something if you won again?'"

Hayes is also hoping to strike rich again — she bought 10 tickets at a Dirt Cheap liquor store on her way home Tuesday while speaking with an Associated Press reporter. Unlike many big winners, she has kept a visible public profile instead of going underground, appearing on a 2007 reality TV show ("Million Dollar Christmas"), writing an online Life After the Lottery blog and self-publishing a short book, "How Winning the Lottery Changed My Life."

"We have this drawing tomorrow, and if somebody wins, God bless them," she said. "They're going to need those blessings."

AP

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25 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by fastball 9.
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United States
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May 25, 2011
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Posted: November 28, 2012, 9:14 am - IP Logged

Knowing how to say NO, that is perhaps the the most important skill a new jackpot winner must acquire.

Practice makes perfect. For the first year just automatically say NO to everything.   LOL

    hearsetrax's avatar - 78638c467ef281febf24383e126f74b6

    United States
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    May 21, 2007
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    Posted: November 28, 2012, 9:19 am - IP Logged

    Knowing how to say NO, that is perhaps the the most important skill a new jackpot winner must acquire.

    Practice makes perfect. For the first year just automatically say NO to everything.   LOL

     Skepticalthat and learning how to shoot,a few class 3 belt fed guns, learn to build DIY land mines etc etc etc  ......

    and learn to trust no one and suspect every one  Skeptical

      zinniagirl's avatar - flower avatar_0026.jpg
      nc
      United States
      Member #99522
      October 26, 2010
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      Posted: November 28, 2012, 9:30 am - IP Logged

      After years of Customer service work, it would be nice to say "NO" once in a while

        Avatar
        Ga
        United States
        Member #120459
        December 20, 2011
        115 Posts
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        Posted: November 28, 2012, 9:41 am - IP Logged

         Skepticalthat and learning how to shoot,a few class 3 belt fed guns, learn to build DIY land mines etc etc etc  ......

        and learn to trust no one and suspect every one  Skeptical

        There's a lot of paperwork and red tape for that that can he traced very easily. It would he smarter just to get a ccw permit take classes for it. Or better yet, be anaonamous if possible. It is better than a whole security company and a lot cheaper.

          golfer1960's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcRrT_aqD1AR0JipFSPNrYwpV7HY4uVoKxOgcUYLzZ3SEdif
          Eatontown, NJ
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          November 29, 2011
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          Posted: November 28, 2012, 9:50 am - IP Logged

          Hey, where is Ridge?

          Ridge

            ashabug725's avatar - Yavill
            Indiana
            United States
            Member #122873
            February 9, 2012
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            Posted: November 28, 2012, 10:08 am - IP Logged

            Hey, where is Ridge?

            Ridge

            Haven't seen any posts from him n a while! Was wondering the same thing

            I wish I may, I wish I might...
                       Win the Powerball jackpot THIS big night!!!

              sully16's avatar - sharan
              Listens to the wind
              Michigan
              United States
              Member #81740
              October 28, 2009
              20060 Posts
              Online
              Posted: November 28, 2012, 10:14 am - IP Logged

              no, one of my favorite words.

              There's only one US Flag

                Cletu$2's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
                S.E.Iowa
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                Member #120509
                December 21, 2011
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                Posted: November 28, 2012, 10:20 am - IP Logged

                I got a lot of practice saying NO to my kids over the years.I'll just pretend that the public are my kids.It'll be easy to say NO!

                When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it. ~Clarence Darrow

                There ought to be one day - just one - when there is open season on senators. ~Will Rogers

                  dpoly1's avatar - driver
                  PA
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                  October 16, 2008
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                  Posted: November 28, 2012, 10:22 am - IP Logged

                  I already know how to say NO. I have a rough plan of what to do with a windfall jackpot win. My AR15 is locked and loaded Patriot.

                  I do not lead an expensive lifestyle now. I would keep driving my Hyundai Sonata. I would invest and make some prudent luxury purchases though.

                  There is no reason to live the same lifestyle if I win. Why play if you do not want to make some very nice changes!

                  Big Grin Santa

                  dpoly1 - Playing the lottery to save the jobs of those that build, transport, sell & maintain luxury items! -

                   

                  Eschew Poverty ........... Vote Conservative!

                    kyokushin187's avatar - evildead2
                    cornwall,ct
                    United States
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                    December 23, 2010
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                    Posted: November 28, 2012, 11:08 am - IP Logged

                    Hey, where is Ridge?

                    Ridge

                    I was also wondering the same thing. Hope all is well. I miss his humorous  posts.

                    Kyokushin karate a.k.a.

                    " The strongest Karate"

                      hearsetrax's avatar - 78638c467ef281febf24383e126f74b6

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                      Posted: November 28, 2012, 11:25 am - IP Logged

                      Skeptical reckon them revenuers finally caught up with him and or something Stooges

                        Win$500Quick's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
                        Florida
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                        August 1, 2009
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                        Posted: November 28, 2012, 11:47 am - IP Logged

                        I have no problem saying NO! I am also fortunate that I have a good job and financially savvy. So bring on the win.

                        Numbers Don't Lie!


                          United States
                          Member #111446
                          May 25, 2011
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                          Posted: November 28, 2012, 11:48 am - IP Logged

                          Hey, where is Ridge?

                          Ridge

                          You carry his portrait with you?

                          Now that's loyalty!  Love

                            dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
                            Oklahoma
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                            November 12, 2009
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                            Posted: November 28, 2012, 11:53 am - IP Logged

                            NO!!!!!! is my middle name according to my two sons.....Green laugh

                            I Love Pink & Green 1908