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Mega Millionaire 'Bunky' Bartlett offers advice to winners

After the Big WinAfter the Big Win: Mega Millionaire 'Bunky' Bartlett offers advice to winners
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Bunky reflects on mistakes (and successes) since winning $32.6 million

A Tarot card might have foretold that Ellwood "Bunky" Bartlett would win $32.6 million in the 2007 lottery.

Unfortunately, the spirit world provided no omens that might have helped the 45-year-old practicing Wiccan better manage his good fortune.

This week, as much of the East Coast is waiting for the winners of the record $656 million jackpot to step forward, Bartlett of Westminster agreed to talk about the things that have gone wrong — and right — in his life during the past three years.

To help Maryland's newest mega-millionaires avoid repeating his mistakes, Bartlett offered the following tips:

Remain anonymous. Take the winnings in the form of an annuity parceled out over 26 years, instead of in a lump sum. Curb impulse spending by stashing the winnings in a trust fund that requires several signatures to authorize major purchases.

"Otherwise, everybody and their brother will find you and try to get money from you," Bartlett said.

Bartlett was by all accounts a soft touch who gave away millions to friends and strangers. He hired his buddies, bought them first-class plane tickets, officiated at their weddings and helped them buy homes — only to watch helplessly as long-standing relationships disintegrated.

The former accountant readily admits to making bad business decisions. Plans that were widely publicized at the time, such as expanding the New Age bookshop near White Marsh that he considered his "spiritual home," failed spectacularly. (Wicca is a nature-based religion based on ancient traditions of witchcraft and white magic.)

A record label that Bartlett started at the request of his wife, Denise, released just two albums before it folded, including one featuring former reality show contestant Dilana Robichaux.

"People always said that I was too kind-hearted and wore my heart on my sleeve," he said. "One of the mistakes I made was giving money to help other people realize their dreams instead of my own. Then, when the businesses crashed, I looked like the bad guy."

When Robichaux first met Bartlett, he impressed her as a man adrift, a man in search of a focus.

"To me, Bunky was kind of a lost soul," said the singer, who was runner-up during the second season of the CBS reality show "Rock Star: Supernova."

"You could kind of tell he was a bit fearful of what he was going to do with all this money."

But not everything was a bust for Bunky.

The lottery winner estimates that, after paying 2010 taxes, he says he still has $15 million to $16 million left in the bank.

His children, Ryan, 26, and Ashley, 24, are doing well. He purchased his late mother her dream house on the water in Sparrows Point, and says she got a lot of pleasure during her final days from feeding the ducks each morning.

A pizza franchise that Bartlett bought with the sole purpose of ensuring that he could get delivery to his rural home has beaten the odds and is about to celebrate its second anniversary.

Here's how he tells the story of how he came to own Westminster's Mustang Pizza & Subs:

"Basically, we're out in the boonies and no one would deliver to us, so I said, 'Honey, do you mind if I open a Mustang's in Westminster?' Now, we have a 10-mile delivery radius, which is unheard of in the business."

The Bartletts also own investment property consisting of four houses and four commercial spaces.

And he is finally using his lottery winnings to finance a dream of his own — creating the ultimate video game. True, Bartlett is being criticized for asking the public for contributions instead of bankrolling the project entirely himself. But that hasn't deterred him.

"I'm never bothered by criticism that I shouldn't do something because I don't have the experience," he said. "I'm an idea man, and I can hire the people who can make my ideas reality."

Even before he entered the public eye in a big way, Bartlett, who at the time lived in Dundalk, was perhaps the world's most colorful accountant.

Within days of winning one-fourth of the $330 million prize, in September 2007, he told news outlets in the U.S., Britain, Finland and Russia that his win had been preceded by a Tarot card reading that told him to slow down and focus on his spirituality.

So Bartlett told the "powers that be" that if he won the lottery, he would focus on teaching completely.

"And a month later, here I am," he said in a 2007 article in The Sun. "I thank the gods for this gift. I don't know which one granted me this wish, but whichever one did, thanks!"

Maryland Lottery spokeswoman Carole Everett described Bartlett as the rare lottery winner who went public immediately with his good luck. "He was out in front of the media, even before he contacted us," she said. We usually hear from a lawyer first."

Bartlett announced plans to expand Mystickal Voyage, the store owned by Lori and Mick Perdue where the new lottery winner kept the books and taught classes on moon magic and psychic healing. The store, which had opened the previous year, had already been enlarged once to include a coffee shop.

Bartlett financed a $750,000 renovation that spread out to 6,500 square feet, including a yoga center. For the grand reopening, Bartlett booked radio personality Steve Rouse and other special guests, including Azrael Arynn K, one of his favorite pagan authors.

It's not clear why the once-healthy business foundered, though it didn't help that the reopening occurred just a few months before the U.S. financial markets collapsed in December 2008.

He said he made a key mistake by investing heavily in the bookstore and then stepping away.

"Basically, I did one of the things any good business person tells you not to do," Bartlett said.

While he and his wife were enjoying a second honeymoon in Paris, he said, they learned from Facebook that Mystickal Voyage had announced that it was closing as of Oct. 31, 2010.

Now the store sits vacant, its walls and shelves stripped bare.

The owner of the shopping center, Dunfield Commercial LLC, filed suit in January, 2011 against the Perdues and Bartlett's PanGaia investment company.

Reached by email, Lori Perdue said she couldn't comment because she had signed a non-disclosure agreement with Bartlett. But according to court records, the monthly lease of $9,700 had ballooned to $13,000. In addition, the Perdues were grappling with an undisclosed illness.

"We truly are financially devastated by the closing of the business," Lori Perdue wrote in a March, 2011 letter included as part of the court documents, "and have no assets or means to pay the amount in question, or even offer any settlement."

Even while the bookstore was still open, Bartlett had made a foray into the music business. As he tells it, he and his wife were huge fans of Robichaux. They decided to found their own label, called KaBunk Records, so they could produce her album, "InsideOut," which was released in 2009.

They parted ways after disagreeing about who would make creative decisions. Bartlett said that Robichaux was insisting on rights that are rarely granted to up-and-coming singers. She said that Bartlett sought total control not just of her songs, but also of her brand.

"Bunky was inexperienced with the music business and demanded stuff from me that I will never give up," she said. "His money couldn't buy me."

Despite the falling-out, Robichaux said Bartlett "has a great heart" and added: "He really cares about his friends."

Because he is so generous, Bartlett can't help being bewildered by what he terms as the "haters" who have excoriated him for creating a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter. He's seeking $1.1 million to create a test-ready version of the project he's tentatively calling "Your World."

With 29 days to go, 63 backers have pledged just $20,774. Detractors, meanwhile, are wondering loudly why a multimillionaire is asking them for money.

"My budget for this game is at minimum $5 million, so I'm going to be investing a lot of my own money," Bartlett said.

"I have no problem if 1.1 million people each give $1. In fact, I'd prefer it, because I'm trying to find out if there's a market for the type of game I want to create."

If "Your World" doesn't reach its May 3 goal, he said, he will continue to seek private investors for the project. He's been playing video games for 35 years, so he has a good sense of what will set his venture apart. He's been assured by experts in the field that his goal, while difficult to reach, will be obtainable.

He'd like to release the game in 2014, but he'll wait as long as he needs to get the details right. And luckily, he has that option.

"Winning the lottery buys you time," he said.

"Before I won the lottery, I had to go to work, I had to do this, I had to do that, I had to, had to, had to. Now, if friends call up and ask if we want to go on a cruise, we don't have to plan years in advance. We can just go."

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

Thanks to four4me for the tip.

Baltimore Sun

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53 comments. Last comment 5 years ago by Stack47.
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Win$500Quick's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
Florida
United States
Member #77815
August 1, 2009
3459 Posts
Offline
Posted: April 4, 2012, 9:50 am - IP Logged

I saw him on the lottery changed my life and he was trying to sign a female artist from a short lived reality show. He was investing in so many things like a seafood restaurant.

Guess Who's Back?


    Bahamas
    Member #114685
    August 5, 2011
    422 Posts
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    Posted: April 4, 2012, 10:00 am - IP Logged

    I saw him on the lottery changed my life and he was trying to sign a female artist from a short lived reality show. He was investing in so many things like a seafood restaurant.

    Spread his resources too thin too fast but thankfully he hasn't exhausted all of his resources and a  few investments are starting to pan out as well as the fact that he has real estate holdings. With 15m in the bank, if he cointues to sober up and tread cautiously, he should do fine!

    "Freedom of Speech? Keep reading and you will discover that freedom comes at a price!"

      savagegoose's avatar - ProfilePho
      adelaide sa
      Australia
      Member #37136
      April 11, 2006
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      Posted: April 4, 2012, 10:06 am - IP Logged

      isnt there LLC for crazy idea companies? well he still has 15 mill, nothing to be too sad with, he blew half, its time to smaerten up.

      2014 = -1016; 2015= -1409; 2016 JAN = -106; FEB= -81; MAR= -131; APR= - 87: MAY= -91; JUN= -39; JUL=-134; AUG= -124; SEP = -123; OCT= -84  NOV=- 73 TOT= -3498

      keno historic = -2291 ; 2015= -603; 2016= JAN=-32, FEB= +12 , MAR= -86, APR = -77. MAY= -48, JUN= -29, JUL=-71; AUG = -52; SEPT= -43; OCT = +56 NOV = -33 TOT= -3297

        dpoly1's avatar - driver
        PA
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        Member #66141
        October 16, 2008
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        Posted: April 4, 2012, 10:06 am - IP Logged

        Just because the guy is a moron, is no reason to take the annuity ............ you can overspend on a yearly basis and have liens placed onto you annuity!

        It is all in what you make of the good fortune that comes your way .......

        "Bunky" is the last person on earth that I would listen to for financial advice!  Crazy

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

         

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


          United States
          Member #111442
          May 25, 2011
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          Posted: April 4, 2012, 10:11 am - IP Logged

          Just because the guy is a moron, is no reason to take the annuity ............ you can overspend on a yearly basis and have liens placed onto you annuity!

          It is all in what you make of the good fortune that comes your way .......

          "Bunky" is the last person on earth that I would listen to for financial advice!  Crazy

          Excellent point DP, those future annuities are not guaranteed to you with outstanding liens or lawsuits.   I Agree!

            Avatar
            NEW YORK
            United States
            Member #90535
            April 29, 2010
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            Posted: April 4, 2012, 10:13 am - IP Logged

            A FOOL AND HIS MONEY.This man should be more THRIFTY with his money, but it is his choice to do as he pleases.

            US Flag

            PLAY THE LOTTERY SOMEDAY-IT IS OKAY TO DREAM!

              maximumfun's avatar - Lottery-030.jpg
              Lavender Rocket

              United States
              Member #124616
              March 16, 2012
              2642 Posts
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              Posted: April 4, 2012, 10:14 am - IP Logged

              Just because the guy is a moron, is no reason to take the annuity ............ you can overspend on a yearly basis and have liens placed onto you annuity!

              It is all in what you make of the good fortune that comes your way .......

              "Bunky" is the last person on earth that I would listen to for financial advice!  Crazy

              Excellent point.  and if he had 32+M$ to start with, that is before his additional fed tax burden, so he went through 7 mill or so in 3 years (is my math close to right?)

                CDanaT's avatar - tiger avatar_04_hd_pictures_169016.jpg
                TX
                United States
                Member #121193
                January 4, 2012
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                Posted: April 4, 2012, 10:15 am - IP Logged

                Just because the guy is a moron, is no reason to take the annuity ............ you can overspend on a yearly basis and have liens placed onto you annuity!

                It is all in what you make of the good fortune that comes your way .......

                "Bunky" is the last person on earth that I would listen to for financial advice!  Crazy

                Probably a great friend and neighbor. I won't criticize him for chasing his dream, however, he could/might consult with experts in the endeavors, he chooses, ahead of time......Common sense is not part of the lottery jackpot that you win No No

                     Stay Focused My Friends 

                Stay Positive, Believe and good things will come your way

                  dk1421's avatar - Lottery-024.jpg
                  North Carolina
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                  Posted: April 4, 2012, 10:22 am - IP Logged

                  Probably a great friend and neighbor. I won't criticize him for chasing his dream, however, he could/might consult with experts in the endeavors, he chooses, ahead of time......Common sense is not part of the lottery jackpot that you win No No

                       Stay Focused My Friends 

                  I agree - probably a great friend and neighbor, but a horrible financial "advisor". Instead of "playing" with his money, he should have talked to the professionals and gotten their advice.

                  I actually read a fiction book once where the woman won the lottery. She did get a financial advisor, accountant, and a lawyer to form her "board". It was great because when her family started asking for money to start businesses, she had to say "My board has to look over the business plan. You do have a business plan, right?"  This way her family knew she meant business and would not just look for business payouts. And yes, this is fiction and not real, but I did get some good information/advice from this book. The author obviously did their homework (and I secretly wondered is she was a member here).  And no, I don't remember what it's called.  Sorry!

                  "Don't be a schmuck, always take the cash." -Coin Toss


                    United States
                    Member #111442
                    May 25, 2011
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                    Posted: April 4, 2012, 10:26 am - IP Logged

                    Probably a great friend and neighbor. I won't criticize him for chasing his dream, however, he could/might consult with experts in the endeavors, he chooses, ahead of time......Common sense is not part of the lottery jackpot that you win No No

                         Stay Focused My Friends 

                    Agreed, he'd probably be a real hoot posting with us here on LP forums!  LOL    Of course even with all the good advice being thrown around on this

                    site, we truly will never know precisely how we would react, until that one fine day when our ship finally comes in.   Roll Eyes

                      Avatar
                      New Member
                      East Coast
                      United States
                      Member #126012
                      April 2, 2012
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                      Posted: April 4, 2012, 10:43 am - IP Logged

                      "Remain anonymous"

                      Many states don't allow this do they?


                        Bahamas
                        Member #114685
                        August 5, 2011
                        422 Posts
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                        Posted: April 4, 2012, 10:45 am - IP Logged

                        "Remain anonymous"

                        Many states don't allow this do they?

                        In Florida, if the media requests your information, lottery officials are required to provide it and we all know the media WILL request it.

                        "Freedom of Speech? Keep reading and you will discover that freedom comes at a price!"

                          Avatar
                          ny, ny
                          United States
                          Member #98736
                          October 12, 2010
                          10025 Posts
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                          Posted: April 4, 2012, 11:06 am - IP Logged

                          People should be looking at the positives here, he bought his mother her dream home before she passed away.  He opened a "successful" business, he still has 16 million left and he is happy - which is priceless!!

                          Lottery winners should read stories of these past winners who threw it all away and learn what not to do. 

                          The name Bunky is funny to say and hard to take advice from BUT at least he is doing okay with his riches.  I thought this was going to be another one of those tragic stories. 

                          GOOD FOR YOU BUNKY!

                          Pets 125, 669

                            zinniagirl's avatar - flower avatar_0026.jpg
                            nc
                            United States
                            Member #99520
                            October 26, 2010
                            375 Posts
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                            Posted: April 4, 2012, 11:10 am - IP Logged

                            There are very few states that do not require that your name be release.   MD, Kansas, and that new england state that takes their photo with a smiley face over their face do not.  Always loved the smiley face over the face of the winner!