David Edwards, an ex-con from Kentucky who through a stroke of luck moved uptown to a gated community in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, stole the show Sunday in Lottery Homes.
The program, which aired at 9 p.m. on The Learning Channel, looked at seven lottery winners around the country -- before and after they struck it rich.
"They were all wonderful and all down-to-earth," says Alice McGee, one of the show's producers. "They don't have the attitude of the manner born."
Still, she notes, "Mr. Edwards stood out because of his story. He's lived a life of extremes. I think he's also living in a different extreme these days."
Indeed, from unemployment and a blank future in Westwood, Ky., to a fleet of cars, his own private jet, luxurious homes and a household staff, all because of six random numbers in a game called Powerball.
In August 2001, Edwards had only two more unemployment checks to count on when he plopped down $7 on an 80-million-to-1 shot.
Sometimes miracles happen, and one occurred that night. In a Sun-Sentinel story that ran Oct. 28, 2002, Edwards described falling to his knees in a parking lot and "praising the Lord for five minutes at least" upon learning of his exquisitely good fortune.
Opting for a lump-sum payout, he walked away with nearly $29 million after taxes.
He and his then girlfriend and now wife have been living it up ever since. The first year alone, he ran through more than $12 million, an estimated $5.2 million of that going to charity.
A colorful character, with a gift for gab, Edwards could have been a show all by himself, says McGee.
"He has such a natural storytelling ability he's a producer's dream. His stories have a beginning, middle and end, and there's always a payoff."
McGee was equally impressed that Edwards seemed sincerely determined not to allow his riches to define him.
During the interviews, he told her "I moved to Palm Beach [Gardens] because my money wouldn't stand out here."
He wanted that anonymity, she says, wanted to be treated like regular folks.
"Nobody is prepared for winning the lottery," says McGee, "but Edwards handled it well."
Among the other winners profiled on the show are twins, a former McDonald's worker who has since died, and a California woman who was living in an Econo Lodge when $90 million catapulted her into the economic stratosphere.