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N.C. Powerball lottery winners worry what their preacher will think

PowerballPowerball: N.C. Powerball lottery winners worry what their preacher will think

Can winning nearly a million dollars in the lottery be a bad thing? Strangely, for Donald and Danette Sigmon the answer is apparently, "yes."

On July 26, Donald won $800,000 in the Powerball Lottery after accurately choosing five winning numbers. The Sigmons went to Raleigh to claim their prize. Ever since, they have worried over the fact that playing the lottery might have shamed them.

They say they have been shunned and ridiculed — and aren't entirely proud of having played. They're so uncomfortable that Donald has written an open letter to the community about the morality of winning the North Carolina Educational Lottery.

The Sigmons, members of a local Baptist church, were apprehensive at first. She's the child of a Baptist minister, and he is a Baptist after a childhood as a Catholic.

Donald says he had bought the Powerball ticket on a whim. He'd been dealing with the death of his mother earlier this year and said he had some numbers in mind, numbers he chose for personal reasons. He bought the PowerPlay option, which would multiply his winnings by four.

Then he and Danette went to the Outer Banks for a vacation. Only after they returned did they discover that Donald held a ticket worth $200,000. With the multiplier, he had $800,000.

"I didn't think he'd won because he didn't match the last number" or the Powerball number, Danette said.

Although he hadn't hit the jackpot, he had won.

And in the ensuing five weeks, they say, they've been strained by the way some people treat them differently.

"I have learned many things about the beliefs people have towards playing and winning the lottery," Donald wrote. "Is it right or wrong to play the lottery if you are a Christian or attend church? If you feel in your heart that the right thing to do, when winning the lottery, is to tithe the 10 percent of the winnings to a charity or church ... will the church accept it?" he asks.

They gave money to charity and to their church, but the church returned it.

"We understand why the money was returned; we just do not understand the criticism and shunning of our fellow Christian brothers and sisters," Donald wrote.

I "did not intend to win," he said. "But I did. Since that time, my family and I have been congratulated and ridiculed at the same time. The people in our community who know (us) were happy for us because they know how much it will help us financially, now and in the future. On the other hand, the people who should know my family best have ridiculed and shunned us due to this."

Danette, a part-time school bus driver, said the ride to Raleigh to claim their winnings "was the longest ride I've ever taken." After they made it through the maze of paperwork, they were given a check and looked for the first branch they could find of their bank.

That branch was too busy, they were told, as they wanted to deal directly with a banker. So they asked directions to the next branch. There, they were ushered in but greeted with wariness.

"She said they get lots of fake lottery checks," Danette said. "She said she'd never had a winning check come in."

After collecting, they came home and avoided publicity. But still, the state had announced their winnings, so it was in the paper.

Danette says she was unsettled from the get-go.

"I worried, 'What will my preacher think?' she recalls. "Will I be shunned?"

She said she's never played the lottery herself, and she has words of advice for those who do. When buying a ticket, think hard about it: "You don't think, 'What if I win?'" she said.

Donald, who works for Gilbert Engineering installing utilities, said "some people were for us; some were against us," when word got out about the money.

And what did they do with the winnings? They say they paid the taxes, which were substantial; paid off the mortgage on their West Iredell home; shared some with family; invested some for the children's college; and gave some away.

"We've done good things with this money," Danette said, but winning has been "good and bad."

"It changes your life," she said. "I'm so glad he didn't win the big one" worth tens of millions of dollars, she added.

Because they'd been on the financial brink, they appreciate having money in the bank. But still, they feel they are subject to stares in places they should be treated as friends.

Much of the reaction "has broken my heart," Danette said. "But what are we going to do, sit on this pile of money" and do nothing?

They both intend to continue working, because the amount they won isn't enough to get silly about.

So are they happy?

"I could be," Danette said with a laugh. But she would appreciate being able to let the worry go so she could sleep.

What? A lottery winner losing sleep worrying?

"This has not made us happy," they both said, because winning means "you're struggling with right and wrong."

"I'm happy we are able to pay things off, help our family and help charity," she said.

"But we want it to end," he interjected.

But will their acquaintances forgive them for gambling? Danette thinks many will but said: "I'm not going to beg them."

"You would have to be a strong person to not want that money," she said, sitting at her kitchen table with Donald, but "I don't know if it's a curse or a blessing."

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119 comments. Last comment 11 years ago by mr twentyone.
Page 1 of 8
Coastal Georgia
United States
Member #2653
October 30, 2003
1866 Posts
Posted: September 5, 2006, 12:30 pm - IP Logged

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Sigmon,

You have nothing to be ashamed of.

Tell those people that "shun" you to kiss your __.

It is a combination of ignorance and jealousy that makes the idiots treat you the way that they do. Go on with your lives and fuggetabout it.








    stephi's avatar - winifrid
    rural lowcountry, south carolina
    United States
    Member #31677
    February 2, 2006
    196 Posts
    Posted: September 5, 2006, 12:30 pm - IP Logged

    It's too bad they worry so much about what other people think about them. I believe in Lord Jesus Christ and his word also and I don't find one iota in the bible where it says that putting money on games is evil. The lottery is a tax game; it has always been used as a tax. Of course you will always have people that want to make you feel very very guilty. I think many of them are simply jealous. And the stares he gets? I'm sure if he gave those folks a big chunk of his money they wouldn't be staring at him so. Just my two cents.

      Urbandale, IA
      United States
      Member #8624
      November 11, 2004
      115 Posts
      Posted: September 5, 2006, 1:00 pm - IP Logged

      "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s . . . "  Romans 13


      "The lot is cast into the lap"  Proverb 16:23

        Clairvoyance's avatar - eye storm.jpg

        United States
        Member #26882
        November 23, 2005
        1404 Posts
        Posted: September 5, 2006, 1:21 pm - IP Logged

        But its OK to go to a church sponsored picnic that has bingo? Same thing, you pick a board with numbers on and wait for them to be drawn and when you have all the numbers on your board then BINGO and you WIN MONEY! How many people do you know that will sit and play bingo for hours for the heck of it? None, they are all there to win money prizes! Christians are not supposed to be drunkards either but how many church picnics do you see selling beer at beer booths for profits? Many of them do!!!!!!! But I guess that is OK?

        The people that are shunning you are called Hypocrites! And that is exactly what they are so next time you see them at a church picnic playing bingo and drinking beer shun them sinners too!!!!! LOL! You can’t get a speck out of your brothers eye when you have one in your own!

        Enjoy your blessing because that is what it was!

          RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
          United States
          Member #9
          March 24, 2001
          20067 Posts
          Posted: September 5, 2006, 1:22 pm - IP Logged

          People who don't want to win some money don't buy a PowerBall lottery ticket and those who buy a ticket that don't expect to win anyting don't pay extra for the PowerPlay.  People who do things that they are ashamed of avoid talking about them in public.

           * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                       Evil Looking       

            liberal47's avatar - Rowlf
            Holt MI
            United States
            Member #2244
            September 4, 2003
            69 Posts
            Posted: September 5, 2006, 1:45 pm - IP Logged

            I think it says alot about North Carolina, and why it took so long to establish a lottery in that state. It's hard to control the sheep in a flock if they start doing things that are going to make them pull the wool out of their eyes. I think the congregation is doing just that for these lucky people.

              North Brunswick NJ
              United States
              Member #39013
              May 8, 2006
              12741 Posts
              Posted: September 5, 2006, 1:53 pm - IP Logged

              Sometime i think the wrong people hit the powerball games. Because, if it was me who hit that powerball game, i wouldn't give a *@!&^# what they say.

                New Member
                United States
                Member #13328
                April 3, 2005
                13 Posts
                Posted: September 5, 2006, 1:55 pm - IP Logged

                I wonder if they went through this when they bought Insurance?  Did the "Flock" have problems with them gambling with that?  Or what kind of Insurance they bought?  I wonder if the "Flock" has problems with them having a 401k that is growing from the Stock Market. I wonder if the "Flock" has 401k's growing in the Stock Market.  OMG!  Could the "Flock" be "Gambling"?  SOMEBODY TELL GOD!!!!!!  The World is going to HELL!  Oh wait a minute, it's already there. Big Grin

                  Bradly_60's avatar - disney37
                  Atlantic Mine, Michigan
                  United States
                  Member #416
                  June 23, 2002
                  1614 Posts
                  Posted: September 5, 2006, 1:55 pm - IP Logged

                  That does show how narrow minded North Carolinans are.  This always has eerked me.  You can definetly tell that NC is a red state.  Glad I don't live there.


                    konane's avatar - wallace
                    Atlanta, GA
                    United States
                    Member #1265
                    March 13, 2003
                    3599 Posts
                    Posted: September 5, 2006, 3:11 pm - IP Logged
                    "Money changes everything" .....  reveals true essence of people who would be jealous if that family won $1,000. 
                    Jealousy is all about control.
                    Congratulations to the winners!!  Big Grin Angel

                    Good luck to everyone!

                      Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                      Chief Bottle Washer
                      New Jersey
                      United States
                      Member #1
                      May 31, 2000
                      23720 Posts
                      Posted: September 5, 2006, 4:02 pm - IP Logged

                      That does show how narrow minded North Carolinans are.  This always has eerked me.  You can definetly tell that NC is a red state.  Glad I don't live there.


                      I obviously completely disagree with the anti-gambling croud, but I would not be so judgmental to deem all North Carolinians as "close-minded," as you do.

                      I think a large segment of the population in N.C. despises gambling, which is their right.  I don't think some of the comments about BINGO mentioned above apply to such people, because I don't think BINGO is used as a fundraiser in Born Again ministries.  Someone can certainly correct me on this if I'm wrong.

                      I guess it's not in my personality to give a hoot about what someone else thinks, so it's hard to sympathize with the "shameful winners" described in the story.  I do feel bad for them, in that they do not have the ability to enjoy their new-found wealth, and are dragged down by feelings of guilt.

                      By the way, regarding the "red state" comment mentioned by Brad, I would rather live in a red state any day of the week.  And this comes from someone living in a blue state (me).  If I'm lucky, someday I'll move to a red state, and it may even be one of the eight without a lottery. Big Grin


                      Check the State Lottery Report Card
                      What grade did your lottery earn?


                      Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                      Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                        Tenaj's avatar - michellea
                        Charlotte NC
                        United States
                        Member #17406
                        June 18, 2005
                        4055 Posts
                        Posted: September 5, 2006, 4:06 pm - IP Logged

                        That does show how narrow minded North Carolinans are.  This always has eerked me.  You can definetly tell that NC is a red state.  Glad I don't live there.


                        MadThat does show how narrow minded North Carolinans are.  WHAT A BLANKET STATEMENT! - Does that statement cover me too?  I am a native North Carolinian and I'm not narrow minded and I don't know what you mean about being a "red" state.  We are communists too?

                        Yes, this is the Bible Belt and many people have been brow beaten with religion....all in the presence of bigotry.  But that doesn't make all of us stupid.  Intelligence is an individual thing.   

                        I'm glad you don't live here either, Bradley_60.    God know we don't need another stupid person.  Oh, did I say God.

                        Everyone who lives is Michigan are super intelligent and great people, except Bradly_60.  He is stupid.  You can paint him "red."

                        There are too many wonderful Michigan people on LP for me to be ignorant enough to insult the entire state.


                          Baton Rouge, LA
                          United States
                          Member #4602
                          May 7, 2004
                          701 Posts
                          Posted: September 5, 2006, 4:55 pm - IP Logged

                          A very valid point about gambling and BINGO.  I think the reason many churches here were opposed to a lottery was for that very reason, it was competition against BINGO.  My parents used to help out with BINGO for the Catholic school my brother attended and they raked in alot of money from it.  Since lottery, video poker, and casinos came to Louisiana, BINGO revenues have been in decline and that will probably start happening in NC.  The church doesn't like the competition.

                          I remember a story from several years ago about a Louisiana priest who actually refused to have BINGO for his church becuase he saw alot of people cashing Social Security and even Public Assistance(aka Welfare) checks to play BINGO.  He caught alot of flack from the upper ranks of the area Catholic Church for it.  The Catholic church wanted gambling but didn't want anyone else to have it since it cut in on their revenue.

                          I also agree with the shunning, those people are hypocrites pure and simple.  For all anyone knows, some of them are probably closet lottery players themselves and may have even gone to Vegas or some other place with casinos and gambled.  I tend to think people who engage in this sort of shunning or persecution of "sinners" probably have or are doing all the things they are telling the rest of us not to do and a few other things we haven't heard of or knew were physically possible<grin>.

                          My message to these people is enjoy your winnings and live a good life.  

                          Prisoner Six

                          "I am not a number, I am a free man!"

                            Bradly_60's avatar - disney37
                            Atlantic Mine, Michigan
                            United States
                            Member #416
                            June 23, 2002
                            1614 Posts
                            Posted: September 5, 2006, 5:32 pm - IP Logged

                            Sorry about my post earlier I guess I did come across as blunt.  But it does seem like everyone is on the same page as to how we feel about this subject.