Michigan Lottery Winner on Food Stamps

Posted by Mrs Money on May 23rd, 2011

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Have you heard about the man who won two million dollars in the Michigan lottery yet is still on food stamps?  If you haven’t, prepare yourself to be shocked.  Then again, knowing how things go sometimes, you may not be.  I first heard about it on the radio and was appalled.  I can’t even fathom winning the lottery, or winning the lottery and staying on food stamps.  This is absolutely ludicrous.  There are just so many things wrong with this situation: the fact that the government doesn’t kick him off food stamps, and the fact that he sees nothing wrong with continuing to stay on them.

Don’t get me wrong: I believe there are many people who deserve to be on food stamps; it just angers me when people abuse the system.  And it’s not like Michigan needs another person draining the Welfare system.  They are in enough trouble without people like this.

He claims that he told his case worker about him winning the lottery and she said he’d still be eligible for food stamps, or the “Bridge card”, because they don’t claim lottery winnings as income. Um, what?  He took the cash option and walked away with $850,000.  I don’t know about you, but I know that’s enough money that I’d probably be set for life.  We all know he could buy a pretty darn nice house in Michigan for under or around $100,000, so even if he wasn’t a homeowner and did buy a house, he’d still have $750,000 left.

I just can’t believe that even after getting that much money he would still stay on food stamps! He said that if anyone tried to make him feel bad about it, they wouldn’t succeed.  Okay.  I think he’s nuts.

What do you think- do you think he should still take advantage of food stamps?

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14 Responses to “Michigan Lottery Winner on Food Stamps”


  1. Jenny says:

    Hadn’t heard about this. I think it’s crazy that they don’t count lottery winnings (at least over a certain amount) as income! I realize it’s not steady income, but geez. It sounds almost like they’re using the honor system.

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    Mrs Money Reply:

    Jenny- I know! I think it’s nuts too. I didn’t want to sound all judgmental, but I don’t know if there’s any way you could consider this right!

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  2. Heard about this- they system is obviously broken.
    Anyone with a net worth of OVER half a million should not be entitled to Food Stamps. (considering he had some debt to pay off and he bought a house and gave some $ to family).
    I did hear someone try to argue that point that he just paid $1.15 million in taxes, so he should be able to get some of that back in food stamps. What? Anyone else would have paid the same amount in taxes, and probably NOT been on food stamps!

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    Mrs Money Reply:

    Sandy- I agree. I think the system is flawed too. It’s really sad because I know there are people struggling, and he’s just using up resources that could go to people who really need it! :(

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  3. Money Beagle says:

    Yeah, living here in Michigan this was pretty big news right off the bat. Apparently lottery income isn’t considered income so much as a gift (not exactly, but it’s the best I can think of this early in the morning) but the governor heard about this and vowed that this will be changed pronto. Shame on the guy, really. He took advantage of a loophole even though he had to know in his heart it wasn’t the right thing to do. His argument was that he paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes on his lottery winnings, so he felt no problem taking some of it back in the food stamps. Jerk!

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    Mrs Money Reply:

    Money Beagle- I love Michigan, and I hate that the economy is so bad there! Shame on the guy is right. I don’t know how he can do this and not feel bad about it!

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  4. i wrote about this on my blog, too. i think it’s appalling that he’s exploiting an already overtaxed system and shows absolutely no remorse about it. when i read that congress wants to cut food and nutrition programs like wic due to the severe budget crisis and this man, who clearly is now in a position to leave assistance, continues to take advantage of a loophole, i’m disgusted. it’s unethical and completely immoral. how he is not ashamed of himself is astounding. and as for his rationale about taxes–that’s absolute nonsense. that is justifying a behavior and a decision he knows is wrong.

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    Mrs Money Reply:

    Jana- I agree. It is appalling. I hate that he’s using resources that could be going to families and children that actually need it!

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  5. I’m with Money Beagle, shame on this guy. He’s old enough to know better. He’s taking money from families who need it, and he’s taking tax dollars from the working folks. I don’t know how it is in Michigan to stay on food stamps, but in Arizona, when I was on food stamps, you have to go to an appointment every 90 days and bring every bill you owe, and if you even get $25 as a birthday gift you have to claim it and then they lower your food stamps the following month. At least that’s how it was ten years ago. No fun and a big hassle in my opinion!

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    Mrs Money Reply:

    Mrs. A- Exactly. That’s my big problem- he’s taking the tax dollars from working folks and using the resources other families really NEED. What an idiot.

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  6. Jaimi B says:

    This is a prime example for one of the things that I am trying to teach my children: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” That man is shameful.

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    Mrs Money Reply:

    Jaimi- Good for you for teaching your children the right thing! Hopefully this guy will wise up soon.

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  7. Nicole says:

    I live in Windsor, Ontario, and if I look out my window right now, I can see the GM building in Detroit.
    I have a few friends from various parts of Michigan, and some of them use or used the Bridge Card. The way that works can be bizarre at times. Some stores allow you to purchase whatever you want with it (including liquor/luxury foods) because of the way they scanned them in at the till.
    A couple other people I have met through those friends were drug dealers, or pimps or whatever, and didn’t claim any of their income, for obvious reasons. They would roll up to the grocery store in their Dodge Charger, wearing new shoes, and pay with the bridge card.
    Basically, there are so many ways to cheat the system, and people are aware, and there aren’t enough people policing it. if they could afford to hire more people to look into the recipients situations, much of that would go away. in windsor, we seem to have plenty of people doing that, we should send a few over.
    (note i am not saying what the lottery winner did was right, just giving some context)

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  8. Here in California, there is an asset limit as well as an income limit for those without kids, so he couldn’t have that in the bank and still get SNAP (formerly food stamps). It’s meant to be a temporary hand up, and one he has the lottery winnings, he no longer needs that hand.

    My family was on SNAP for a little over a year, dropping it in February not because we didn’t qualify but because we felt that we could manage food into our budget again. Although our income was clearly under the limit, and I was using the time with SNAP to make responsible financial choices to keep us off of assistance in the future, I still got a lot of flak. I can’t imagine how this guy will go to the grocery store and not get a lot of negative feedback from fellow customers!

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