Appeared on 'The Lottery Changed My Life' Thursday
Richard Lustig faced a stack of medical bills after his son was born in 1992. At the same time, his house in South Florida had a leaky roof.
Then he plunked down a buck for a Millionaire Magic scratch-off ticket. Seconds later, he was $10,000 richer.
But he and his family didn't even go out for a celebratory dinner. By the time the bills were paid and the roof was repaired, there was nothing left over, he said.
That was just the beginning of a winning streak that would earn Lustig — now an Orange County resident — an appearance on The Learning Channel show "The Lottery Changed My Life," which aired Thursday evening.
Since that day 18 years ago, the 59-year-old Hunter's Creek man and his wife Cosetta have won more than $1 million from the Florida Lottery, including seven jackpot-level prizes.
The money allowed the family to move into a much bigger and nicer home. And when he is not driving his Jaguar, he is riding his Harley-Davidson.
He and his wife take more cruises than they did before he started winning and he even treated his entire family to an Alaskan cruise.
When he hits the casinos, blackjack is his favorite game. He even spent some time as a blackjack dealer.
But for the last 22 years he has been a student of the Florida Lottery.
"This is a job," he says of the Florida Lottery. "I play it seriously."
Winner has system
Lustig, who owns a talent agency, won't say how much he spends on lottery games, which varies from day to day, although he admits that sometimes it is hundreds of dollars in a single day.
Two factors in how much he spends on a particular day are the size of the jackpots in the games he is playing and how much he won the previous night.
But he says he can afford it.
"I'm playing with Lottery money," Lustig said. "I play more than most people."
And he plays every day of the week.
Lustig plays Fantasy 5, Mega Money, Lotto and Powerball, as well as scratch-off games.
He sticks to one scratch-off game at a time and is currently playing Billion Dollar Blockbuster, a $20 game that has eight, $10 million prizes and 90, $1 million prizes still available.
He won more than $13,000 in Fantasy 5 in 1997, won a couple of trips in scratch-off game "second-chance drawings" and then hit a big one: an $842,152.91 Mega Money jackpot on Jan 22, 2002.
Refining his method
He had been taking notes and refining his methods of playing, such as playing just one scratch-off game at a time instead of playing several different several games.
By the time he won his fourth big prize: "I knew I had something." And everyone wanted to know how he did it.
He decided it was time to stop sharing his secrets for free and printed out a 7-page report that he sold for $30, getting his customers through word of mouth.
After he hit a $73,658.06 Fantasy 5 jackpot in November 2008, "people were really hounding me for my method."
His son suggested he write a book, and while working on it his report grew to 25 pages and he started charging $40 a copy.
Two months ago he hit another Fantasy 5 jackpot, this time for almost $99,000, and allowed the Florida Lottery to take his photo. He had no idea they were going to send it out with a news release about his winning streak.
Within days, his fame began to mushroom.
Now he's an author
First he was on a local television station, then stations around the state ran his story. He made it to a national news channel and then Canadian television.
And orders for his $40 report began arriving by the dozens from around the world.
The information in the report is about to be published in book form, titled "Learning How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery." The 40-page self-published book will also sell for $40. (You can obtain a discounted copy of the book at the Lottery Post Book Store.)
Lustig doesn't claim that he can tell people how to win, only how to increase their chances, as the title says.
He doesn't give away too many tips for free these days, but one he shared is to reinvest lottery winnings.
Small prizes should be used to try to win more money, Lustig said.
For instance, if a person can only afford to spend $1 a day, then that is all they should spend. But if that $1 ticket wins $10, they should put it with the money they were going to spend the next day and buy $11 worth of tickets, he said.
"Reinvesting your money is important," he said.
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