I thought I was lucky when I found a crumpled and forgotten $1 bill in my jeans pocket this week. But not quite as lucky as Gordon Carnese, who discovered a lotto ticket worth $2.6 million in his car's glove box.
Instead of a lump-sum, Carnese opted to take 25 yearly payments of about $70,000 after taxes -- not a bad decision. Also not a bad decision: Checking your lottery tickets more frequently, Carnese.
That reminds me, I have to claim my $3 from a scratch-off ticket I picked up on a whim the other evening. Because that's a smart way to be spending money.
At least Carnese is having his payments sent to him like a salary for the next quarter century -- that way, there is less of a chance he'll blow it all in one fell swoop on bad investments and handouts to family and friends. This MSN Money story shows eight lottery winners who went belly-up, some of them doing jail time and relying on food stamps and Social Security after winning millions.
One of the most bizarre lotto stories I've ever heard was one I covered over several years for The Miami Herald. A South Florida woman who happened to be a former beauty queen thought her husband was acting strange -- unplugging the TV, keeping her off the telephone, buying property in other states. She did a little Googling and found a Florida Lottery press release proclaiming her husband and his work buddies winners in a $19 million jackpot.
Donna Campbell sued her husband, Arnim Ramdass, for half of his cut of the money (each of the 17 winners received about $600,000 after taxes), but a judge dismissed the case last year.
What was always strange to me was that Campbell and Ramdass remained married -- and living under the same roof -- for the whole time this litigation was going on. Even the judge told them that divorce court would be a better venue for their problems.