“If I had a million dollars… If I had a million dollars… If I had a million dollars… I’d be rich!” Do you remember this New York Lottery commercial jingle by Greg Kohs?
Well, if $1 million would make you rich, imagine what $640 million would feel like? Some found out last night as the winning numbers were released for a record-breaking sum that had millions of people across the world vying for it.
With all the hoopla surrounding winning the jackpot, let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of past black lottery winners. — Sasha King
Cynthia Stafford won $112 million in the California Lottery in May 2007. Since then, she has become an entrepreneur and philanthropist in the Los Angeles area. She is CEO of her own production company,Queen Nefertari Productions and is actively involved with Geffen Playhouse. After taxes, she got a lump sum payout of $67 million.
Bryon Woods won $49 million from the Texas Lottery in July 2003. He decided on an annuity, which gave him an initial check of $2.9 million and a payout of $1.95 million over the next 24 years. Since his win, he’s become owner of a historical motel in Texas called the Tee Pee Motel. He bought the property for $60,000 and made $1.6 million in renovations.
Yancy Hicks won $1 million in the Illinois State Lottery in March 2008. At the time he worked at a McDonald’s as a manager. Upon winning, Hicks remained in the food service industry, buying a Subway franchise in the South Side of Chicago.
Willis Willis—yes, that’s his real name—was a winner of a $1 million prize in the Texas Lottery in 2009. According to reports, when checking the ticket with the clerk at the convenience store, he was only given $2. The clerk then allegedly pocketed the ticket and cashed it in at the lottery headquarters. He fled to his native country of Nepal. Willis is now suing the Texas lottery commission as well as the clerk who stole his ticket, in hopes of recovering all of his winnings.
Curtis Sharp won $5 million in the New Jersey Lottery in 1982. According to reports, he lived a life of luxury and quickly ran through all the money. Through some foresight, he worked several years after winning and was able to live off of his pension and social security.
Jeffrey Dampier and his then-wife won the Illinois State Lottery in 1996, taking home $20 million. According to reports, he was a generous man and shared his wealth with his extended family by buying them houses and involving them in his new business. His generosity was not enough for some it seemed. In 2005, he was kidnapped and killed by his sister-in-law Victoria Jackson and her boyfriend Nathaniel Jackson (no relation).
Doris Murray won $5 million in the Georgia in 2008. She was not around long enough to spend it, however. Nearly a year after the win, she was killed in her home by her ex-boyfriend Derrick Stanley.
Abraham Shakespeare won $31 million in the Florida lottery in 2006. He opted for a lump sum payment and was given $17 million after taxes. Shortly after, he was accused by a co-worker of stealing the winning ticket and was taken to court. The court judged in his favor and he was allowed to retain his winnings. His tumultuous life seemed to get worse when he was reported missing. His body was found several months later.