The chances of winning the lottery are one in 175 million, but Florida native Richard Lustig has bucked the odds to win the grand prize seven times. He shared his story--and divulged some of his lotto-winning secrets--on HuffPost Live.
Lustig's first win came in 1992, a $10,000 payout that came at a very opportune time. "At that time, we were like everybody else, we were living paycheck to paycheck," he told host Nancy Redd. "I won that two weeks after my son was born and the insurance doesn't cover all the medical bills, so we didn't know how we were going to pay the rest of the bills. And we were also living in an old house, we had a leaky roof. And it's just like a scene in a movie -- every time it rained, we would put the buckets out to catch the water."
"So when I won that first grand prize, the first thing I did was I paid off the hospital and got our roof repaired."
Despite winning repeatedly over the next few years, Lustig didn't see that there was a pattern until his fourth win. "I didn't even realize that I had a method until my fourth win. Even though everybody else was saying 'oh, you're just a lucky guy, there's no such thing as a method.' I'm saying, 'I won four times. How can you say that's just luck?'"
"But when I won my fifth grand prize, now people started to say, 'ok, wait a minute here. Nobody can be that lucky. What's your secret?' That was the big question I got.
That fifth win in 2002 was his biggest prize, $842,000. Overall, he claims he won more than $1 million. While many lotto winners have ended up in financial ruin after spending all of their winnings, Lustig has managed to avoid that.
"If you are fortunate enough to win a grand prize, the very first thing you should do is seek financial help," he advised. "Get a financial planner, an accountant, a lawyer -- make sure whoever you get is a reputable person with a good reputation, and then have them help you decide what to do with that money. The first thing you should do is pay off all your bills, set up a future plan of investments and stuff to protect yourself for the rest of your life, and then you go out and buy the talking cars."
With his prize money, Lustig has bought a Jaguar and Harley-Davidson motorcycle for himself, as well as a BMW for his son. But his most treasured splurge has been the family's multiple vacations.
"One of the times we took all of our family on a 10-day cruise, seven days on sea and then four days on land up in Alaska. That was--we had an absolutely great time with that."
Given his repeated success, Lustig authored Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery in 2010. He shared some of his tips with Redd: