Even with an extra million or two, it seems that some lottery winners are still trying to finding ways to save money -- on the government's dime.
Amanda Clayton of Lincoln Park, Michigan won a lottery jackpot worth $1 million, but a local TV news station recently discovered that despite her winnings, she was still using a state-sponsored welfare card to buy $200 of food every month, The Daily Mail reports. As a local reporter points out, those tax dollars could go a long way for residents in a state particularly hard-hit by the recession, but Clayton doesn't seem to see it that way, even though she recently purchased both a new house and a new car with her prize money.
"I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay," she told local news WDIV. "I have two houses. I'm still struggling."
UPDATE: Michigan state officials said Thursday that Clayton was cut from food assistance, after her story was widely reported.
Turns out Clayton isn't the only one with a big lottery win dipping into the government's coffers. In May 2011, Leroy Fick, also of Michigan, faced criticism for continuing to buy food on the taxpayers' dime after he won a $2 million jackpot, NBC25 reports. Fick said it's not his fault he can still use government benefits, despite his huge win, instead, the "state has got a problem with its laws."
But that problem may soon be solved. Lawmakers in the state's House of Representatives voted to approve legislation that would include lottery earnings when determining residents' income, and their eligiblity for food benefits, CBS Detroit reports. The state is adopting stricter guidelines in general for determining who is eligible for benefits, cutting food stamps for 30,000 college students last year, and limiting the amount of time residents can receive cash from the state.
Instead of taking state money, some jackpot winners are giving away part of their prize. Last December, three money managers in Greenwich, Connecticut, who won $254 million Powerball, established a charitable trust that has already donated $1 million to five separate charities that support veterans and military members. The group says they plan on making more donations in the future.
This post has been updated to include Michigan state officials' announcement that Clayton was cut from food assistance.