If you win the lottery...

If you win the lottery...

A friend recently told me about this story in which in a Michigan man, Leroy Fick, has continued to accept food aid from the state even though he won $2 million in a state lottery game. He even told officials about it and was told he was still eligible. Apparently he is still eligible for food stamps because he took the winnings in one lump sum (instead of taking payments) so it is not considered income. (He did he have to pay over half his winnings in capital gains taxes.)

As you can imagine, this has spurred plenty of debate on whether the man is right or wrong to continue to use the food stamps after winning the lottery. It certainly leads one to question how broken the system is to allow it. Probably the more interesting question is... What would you do if it happened to you?

I'll leave you with a couple of pieces of advice in case you ever happen to  to receive such a windfall...

The first thing to do is don't tell anyone you have it - because they will be quick to "help" you invest it or spend it.

Second, do not invest it until you have some financial education. Learn where best to invest your money.

If not? You will end up as most lottery winners - broke, and probably in debt, in 2-3 years. My guess is that Leroy Fick will legitimately need his government assistance again in a few years, so maybe it's a good thing they're letting him keep his benefits.

Original publish date: May 19, 2011

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