What would you do if you became a multi-millionaire overnight? We would all use the money in different ways — some might spend it all in a day, while others would wisely invest it — but there would be one common theme. That kind of money changes lives forever.
That’s what the Hill family found out in 2012, when these ordinary, down-to-earth folks suddenly became the richest people in town. With endless possibilities before them, the Hills immediately started making huge purchases that shocked their friends and neighbors…
We all dream of winning the lottery, though very few of us ever see these fantasies come true. Mark and Cindy Hill knew the odds were against them; they never planned on becoming overnight millionaires. But you can’t always plan for the future.
NY Daily News
In 2012, their three adult children moved out of the house, but Mark and Cindy had a younger adopted daughter from China. Mark worked at a meat processing plant, but Cindy recently lost her own job. It was a rough turn of events.
YouTube / Associated Press
The Hill family lived in the small town of Camden Point, Missouri. With only about 500 residents, it was the type of place where everybody knew each other. The Hills had a reputation as decent, modest people.
YouTube / ABC News
Even with their low-key lifestyle, Mark and Cindy couldn’t help but notice advertisements for the upcoming Powerball drawing. The jackpot number kept climbing higher and higher, beguiling anyone who happened to see it.
Flickr / Tony Webster
Once the lottery reached a record $587.5 million, the Hills couldn’t resist. Cindy drove out to the gas station to pick up five tickets. Not believing in any kind of lucky numbers, she let the computer pick hers for her. It was out of her hands.
YouTube / Missouri Lottery
From there, all Cindy and Mark could do was watch the live drawing. Their chances were unbelievably low, but at least it would be a little exciting to have a stake in this live event. The balls started shuffling on their televisions screen. Amusingly, their first couple numbers matched up.
But then a couple more followed — and the final number as well. Mark and Cindy stared at the television screen until they put it all together. They won the lottery! More than that, they won an amount of money that would inevitably change their lives forever.
YouTube / Missouri Lottery
The Hills came away with half of the Powerball jackpot, just under $300 million, and suddenly this ordinary family was the talk of the town. Just about everyone they knew asked the same question. What are you going to do with all that money?
Regrettably, many big-time lottery winners change for the worse. Leaving their old lives behind, they spend their new fortunes on mansions and flashy clothing. In the worst cases, they burn through all their winnings in the blink of an eye and go under.
Thrilled as they were, the Hill family was aware of the pitfalls that came with their winnings. They didn’t need to become high-rollers, so maybe the money could go to help other people? Mark and Cindy thought it over while enjoying some of the jackpot themselves.
Now that they weren’t tied down by work, Cindy wanted the family to travel the world. “We want to go back to China, Ireland of course – we’re Irish – and wherever the wind takes us,” she revealed.
YouTube / Missouri Lottery
Meanwhile, Mark bought himself a new pick-up truck, as his old vehicle was in pretty sorry condition. From there on, however, Mark and Cindy decided to contribute their good fortune to a nobler cause. They thought of Mark’s father.
In recent years, local emergency services and firefighters twice saved the life of his dad. Mark felt that he could never truly repay them for their work, but perhaps the Hills could ensure that these heroes could do their jobs even better.
YouTube / KMBC 9 News
Mark and Cindy met with Walt Stubbs, the Camden Point fire chief and an old high school friend. They offered to share a portion of their winnings, which blew Walt away. He started picturing some new equipment, or maybe a truck. But he didn’t get that.
The Hills announced that they would build an entirely new fire station! Whereas their old facility was far from the main roads — certainly a liability in emergency situations — their new one would be right by the highway.
St. Joseph News-Press
The upgraded building would also feature more garage space for emergency vehicles, plus living quarters for any employees pulling long shifts. Everybody recognized that Cindy and Mark went above and beyond typical generosity. However, they didn’t stop there.
The Hills provided funding for a new baseball field, further away from busy traffic. Thinking practically, they also donated enough to build a new sewage treatment plant. Hopefully, these places won’t be too close to each other.
Little League Baseball
In addition, Cindy and Mark thought back to their alma mater, North Platte High School. So many kids there deserved a good future, but they couldn’t all make that happen by winning the lottery. Instead, the Hills set up a scholarship fund for talented students.
All of Camden Point celebrated the Hills’ donations, which made overnight improvements that would’ve otherwise taken 25 years to fund. Mayor Kevin Boydston said, “I’ve said all along that these lottery winnings could not have gone to a better couple.”
If there were ever any doubts about the Hills staying grounded, those fears are long gone. Thanks to Mark and Cindy, everybody had something to celebrate. The entire town felt like they won the lottery!
Maybe you grind away at work, bored, making just enough to get you and your family by. Maybe, in the middle of a menial task, your mind wanders, and visions of winning the Mega Millions lottery dance through your daydreams…
That jackpot? One billion dollars. Unbelievably, you think, that money could be yours. For just two dollars — which you could likely scrape together with recycled cans — your net worth could jump to a number with three commas.
Were you to buy a lotto ticket, you know you’d have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than actually winning; you’re not surprised the average American fruitlessly spends $207 a year on lottery tickets. Nevertheless, you resolve to buy one.
Aware that someone has to win (so why shouldn’t it be you?), you stop by the convenience store at lunch and buy a ticket. The numbers you chose reflect an important date in your life. Then, later, when you’re finally home, you watch the official drawing.
A man in a suit pulls ping-pong balls from what looks like a popcorn maker. As he turns the numbered balls towards the camera, you notice each matches a number you chose. When all six numbers are drawn, it hits — you freakin’ won!
Play Huge Lottos
Internally, your stomach does a loop-de-loop. Tears well in your eyes. Your knees give out. You’ve got the golden ticket! Well, lotto winner, take your moment, but then clear your head — there’s a lot you need to know about the money you just won.
See, your first instinct — with the winning ticket in your hand — might be to call all your friends and family. It might be to tell your boss he’s worthless. It might be to head to the car dealership. All these steps would be ill-advised.
Instead, lottery attorney (yeah, somehow that’s an actual branch of the law) Jason Kurland, below, suggested signing the back of the winning ticket. That secures the ticket as yours and protects you from money-grubbin’ filchers.
NY Daily News
And before taking the ticket to the lotto commission, Jason recommended you assemble an A-Team of sorts. Call a lawyer, a financial planner, and an accountant (ugh, could anything be less exciting?). They can help you make the tough decisions coming up.
In the meantime, “Keep quiet, and don’t tell anybody,” Jason said. “You can tell your immediate family, but as soon as word gets out [you won] your life is gonna change, and you don’t want your life to change unless you’re ready for the change.”
KRON 4 News
Similarly, delete all your social media accounts. When you do eventually claim your reward, your name will come out, and the last thing you want are hoards of people with access to pictures of you and your family.
So now you’ve got your team. You’ve got your social media scrubbed from existence. Now’s the time to claim your prize. Easy, right? Well, not quite. You have a few major decisions left before you can go all Scrooge McDuck.
You can have that billion dollar prize doled out to you over a few decades, or you can take it all in one lump sum. But of course, either way, you won’t be getting a billion dollars — you didn’t think you were actually going to get the entire jackpot, right?
NY Daily News
See, Uncle Sam always gets his, and in the case of lottery winnings, his is 24 percent. That one billion just became $760,000,000 — that’s only two commas! Just ask lottery winner Andrew Jackson Whittaker…
In 2002, ol’ Andrew from West Virginia won $315 million. Yet, after paying the IRS, the state, and other fees, he walked away with “just” $114 million. Alright, but you’ll gladly take a few hundred million, right? Who cares. Well…
You get those few hundred million if you’re the only winner. That’s not always the case. If someone else defies the odds and hits the jackpot, you split it with them. But you’re the generous type — you can share the wealth. But consider this.
Breaking Bad / AMC
In September 2018, forty New Zealanders won the country’s NZ$1,000,000 (about US$655,000) jackpot. Each winner took home just NZ$25,000 ($16,500). Still good — but not quit-your-job good.
Worst of all, the explosion of wealth so many envision to be their savior actually brings a wealth of problems — some more drastic than others. Financial advisor Robert Pagliarini described one of these problems as “the honeymoon phase of sudden wealth.”
People get all this money, they don’t know what to do, so, in their excitement, they start buying and spending and making poor financial decisions. Instead, Robert suggested, they should envision their future, then build a plan that helps them create it.
The 2x Family / YouTube
Even this plan is not without shortcomings. Lottery attorney Jason recalled plenty of people who won a few million dollars and were then pressured into making bad investments, or hemorrhaged their money in a bad business adventure.
Steve Zumwalt / FEMA
And the more you look at the stories surrounding other lotto winners, the more you see heartbreak and tragedy, even for those careful with their money. Just look at Missouri’s Sandra Hayes, below.
The Lotto Life
Sandra won a few million after splitting a $224 million Powerball with 11 other winners. Once she secured her newfound wealth, she found her friends were suddenly short on cash when it came to weekend meals and entertainment.
“These are people who you’ve loved deep down,” Sandra said, “and they’re turning into vampires trying to suck the life out of me.” Other lotto winners will tell stories of friends and neighbors quickly asking for pieces of the prize.
Time and time again, lottery winners and losers have learned the hard way that money can bring out the worst in people. Winner Denise Rossi, for instance, claimed a $1.3 million prize, then, to keep it all for herself, divorced her husband.
The Chicago Tribune
Denise’s plan backfired, and the courts ultimately made her share her winnings with her now ex-husband. Meanwhile, in 1988, lotto winner William Post, below, battled a hit man sent by his brother who wanted a cut of his winnings.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via Newsday
And remember Andrew Whittaker, the winner of “just” $114 million? Well, that lottery “winner” spent millions fighting off over 400 lawsuits filed against him by people wanting a cut of his money. That’s a pain in the butt.
While countless lottery winners have gone on to live pleasant lives among the wealthiest people in the world, countless others have squandered their money on bad investments, poor decisions, and extravagant luxuries — need another example?
In 1997, Billy Bob Harrell Jr. of Texas won $31 million. He bought houses, cars, vacations, and even fulfilled a few family member’s requests for money. Within a decade, he had nothing left. Zilch. Zero. Nada.
So congratulations, you beat the odds with your $2 winning ticket. Extreme wealth is at the tip of your fingers. But now the adventure begins — will you make the right decisions?