by Erica Ly

As university students, it goes without saying that most of us are aware of how much we are spending on tuition, textbooks, living expenses – the list goes on. So what if you bought a lottery ticket one day on the spur of the moment, or signed up for a competitive, outlandish scholarship that you had no idea if you had enough of a competitive edge for – and somehow you won!

What would be the first thing that crosses your mind to accomplish when it suddenly starts “raining money”? To ignite your imagination – or realize what you would never want to do – here are some of the decisions made by others who have been suddenly presented with huge amounts of money.


1. $319 Million: $200,000 – Building a water park

A New York couple donated $200,000 of their winnings to construct “Spray Park” in Green Island, New York, in honour of their parents.


2. $5.4 Million – Two wins and straight to the casino

Evelyn Adams won a combined value of $5.4 million over two consecutive years and immediately went to the Atlantic City casino where she gambled it all away in a day. Currently, Adams is penniless and living in a trailer park.


3. $10 Million – Investing in a corporation, stocks, and the tax cut

Waitress Lynn Dickerson was working at the Waffle House when she and her two friends and fellow employees received a lottery ticket each, as a gift from a customer. They made an agreement that if any of them won, they would share the earnings. Dickerson did win; however, she refused to share. Not long after, many believe that it was karma that she had to pay over $1 million in taxes as a result of thoughtlessly placing her winnings in a corporation and granting her family 51% of the stock.


4. $16.2 Million – An airplane, a mansion, and $16.2M worth of mistrust

William “Bud” Post had less than $3 in his chequing account when he decided to pawn a ring for $40 to purchase a lottery ticket. When he won the $16.2 million his ex-girlfriend immediately demanded a third of the money. With the remaining millions, Post purchased an airplane which he had no idea how to fly, a mansion, two homes, several motorcycles, three cars for himself, a truck, a sailboat, and ended up marrying seven times.

After purchasing luxury cars and businesses for his siblings, Post’s own brother hired a hit-man to kill the lottery winner in hopes of inheriting the money. The attempt was unsuccessful, but the accumulated $1 million in debt a year caused Post to sell most of his assets, and he was charged with assault for firing a gun at a bill collector. For the rest of his life until dying at 66, eight years after winning, he was living only on a $450 disability payment, food stamps, and didn’t have a penny left.

He commented shortly after the downfall: “I was much happier when I was broke”.


5. $31 Million – Giving handouts: When there seems to be a cost for being kind

A preacher, Billie Bob Harrell Jr. was working in Home Depot when he won the $31 million jackpot. He purchased a ranch, new homes, and cars for his family; he also, however, remembered the importance of helping those in the community around him. He donated to churches and gave hand-outs to those who seemed to need it, until the greed of others overwhelmed him. Eventually, he divorced his wife and committed suicide.


6. $111 Million – Founding a day camp for children

Les Robins had previously worked as a middle school teacher, so he found that it was an easy decision to invest his 1993 Powerball winnings in the creation of “Camp Winnegator”, a day camp for children which is still successful to this day.


7. $336.4 Million: $210 Million – Establishing a trust after ice cream

In 2012, when Louise White was 81 years old, she stopped in at the local store and bought her son rainbow sherbet ice cream and herself three lottery tickets. Overjoyed at winning, White established “The Rainbow Sherbet Trust”, a trust fund to acknowledge the lucky dessert and benefit her family’s future.


8. $390 Million – Fishing. Lots of it.

North Georgia truck driver Eddie Nabors won half of a $390 million jackpot, netting him some $80 million after tax. Despite winning part of the richest lottery prize in U.S. history at that time, he was determined not to let money change him. Nabors had just one plan for what to do with the money, saying, “I’m going to do a lot of fishing”.


It is true that for most people possession of such large amounts of money leads to the demise of the best, but some people do manage to stay afloat. What do you think affects whether a person sinks or swims when it comes to winning a multimillion-dollar prize?

And, of course, the inevitable question which is one that I would love to hear my fellow students answer: how would you deal with one million dollars of sudden cash?