Lottery Winners Who Took Annuity
While we envy lottery jackpot winners (there is no point in lying about that), there is a specific aspect of their win that we can’t help but sympathize with them over—the choice between a cash lump sum and annuity payments. This decision has plagued countless people over the years and led to many arguments about which option is better.
The truth, however, is that most (in fact, almost all) lottery jackpot winners opt to receive the cash lump sum rather than annuity payments. We cannot say that we blame them because we would also be eager to get our hands on the money and start spending. Regardless, there are still plenty of people who have chosen to receive their winnings in the form of annuity payments. In this article, we will look at these lottery winners who took annuity and see what sort of dilemmas they were up against—and how their decisions panned out for them.
Powerball Winners Who Took Annuity
The Lucky Nail Technician, Vinh Nguyen
Our first winner won his millions from the September 24 US Powerball drawback in 2014. Working as a nail technician, Vinh used to purchase a varying number of lottery tickets each week—depending on the number of tips he received at the salon. That particular week had clearly been a good one because Vinh purchased 15 tickets for the massive draw and managed to guess the winning numbers off the top of his head. He won the $228.47 million jackpot and opted to receive his winnings in the form of 30 annual payments. This means that he will receive his full $228.47 million jackpot over the years (equating to around $138 million after taxes).
The Working Couple, Eugene and Stanislawa Markiewicz
Eugene and his wife Stanislawa—Polish immigrants who had only been living in the US for five years—were both hard-working citizens back in 2007. Eugene worked as an electrician and Stanislawa as a cook. Neither thought that anything special would come of it when they purchased a ticket for the Powerball draw held on October 10, but that didn’t stop them from buying a ticket with the same numbers that they had played consistently for five years. Their persistence paid off, and the couple became the sole winners of the $20 million jackpot. The two decided to receive their winnings in the form of an annuity and soon welcomed their first payment of $356,602. The following 29 annuity payments all increase by 4% and will end with a final amount of $1.11 million.
100 Miracles—Or More
On August 5, 2006, the Powerball jackpot stood at an impressive $208.6 million. At the time, there was an established group of employees working at a company in Wisconsin that always purchased lottery tickets together whenever the jackpot went over $100 million. For this draw, however, more than 100 employees working at the cheese processing factory choose to chip in and purchase tickets. Amazingly, the group—aptly named 100 Miracles—won the $208.6 million jackpot. While most of the group chose to receive their share of the winnings in lump sum payments, an undisclosed number of the winners chose to instead opt for the 30-year annuity payment option instead. This effectively grants them $1.4 million in winnings that will be paid out over the term of the annuity.
13 Winners Is A Lucky 13
When a group of 13 workers at the Department of Social Services in Missouri agreed to start purchasing lottery tickets together as a syndicate, we are sure they didn’t think that the agreement would last ten years. However, that is precisely how long the group dubbed Lucky 13 played the lottery for before their big break. The group of co-workers won the April 12, 2006, Powerball jackpot of $224.2 million off of a quick pick ticket purchased by Robin Carlton—one of the group members. The group decided to split the winnings into 12 equal parts (with two members sharing one portion) and to receive their winnings as annuity payments over the span of 30 years.
The Silent Couple, Barbara and Craig Lennen
On March 5, 2005, the Powerball was offering a very respectable jackpot of $19.81 million—no small amount, especially back in those days. The jackpot was won by a single lucky couple named Barbara and Craig Lennen. The couple chose to receive their winnings in the form of annuity payments and were entitled to the full jackpot amount of $19,813,007, which would be paid out over a period of 30 years. Amazingly, however, the couple has managed to remain entirely out of the spotlight, and there is little to no other information about them available anywhere online.
The Winning Manager, Eric Kyle
Being only 22 years of age at the time, Eric was working as a restaurant manager when he purchased a $1 Powerball ticket as a spur-of-the-moment decision. His decision was clearly well worth it because he was soon the sole winner of the February 23, 2005, jackpot. With a jackpot of $18.7 million, Eric had the option to receive the full amount over 30 years or to take a cash lump sum of $10.3 million. Eric decided to go for the annuity payment option so that he can claim the full $18.7 million (before taxes).
Record Breaker, Les Robins
In 1993, the Powerball jackpot was sitting at a never-before-seen $111 million—an amount no one could possibly actually imagine winning. Thankfully for Les Robins, he did hope of winning it and purchased himself a ticket while running errands at the store. Amazingly, his ticket was the only winning ticket of the jackpot draw held on July 7, 1993. Les chose to receive his the full $111 million in 30 annual annuity payments rather than in a lump sum, meaning that he will receive his last payment in 2023.
Mega Millions Winners Who Took Annuity
The Labourer, James Groves
For James "Jimmy" Groves, who was a graveyard-shift labourer at Madison Square Garden in August 2009, winning a $168-million Mega Millions jackpot off a quick pick ticket couldn’t have come at a better time. Having defaulted on his credit card debt just a few weeks prior, the winner was beyond ecstatic when he got the call from the folks at the New York Lottery. Given the choice to take his winnings as a heavily reduced lump sum or the full amount spread over 26 years in $6.5-million instalments, Jimmy decided to take the latter. Despite counting his blessings and planning to use the money to set his family up financially for life, he was quoted as saying, “It’s a dream turned into a nightmare. Winning is the beginning. Living with it is pure hell” because of the non-stop harassment he started receiving once word got out that he was the winner. True as that may be for some winners, most would say it’s still a price certainly worth paying.
The Two Brothers, Tucker "T.J." Adcock and Bernard Adcock
It’s always nice to see a family win—and amicably share—a big jackpot. Such is the story of brothers Tucker “T.J.” Adcock and Bernard Adcock, who together claimed one-quarter of the $330 Mega Millions jackpot back in August 31, 2017. While most people would probably jump up and down upon discovering they were instant millionaires, the older brother, T.J., simply said to Bernard, “I think we have a problem.” While that may be true, it’s a pretty safe bet that the brothers had enough money to solve most of their problems, opting to take their $82.5 million share in full over 26 years—$3.17 million annually.
The Man With His Head on Right, D.J. Gels (Ohio Super Lotto)
In the spring of 1999, D.J. Gels won $24 million from the Ohio Super Lotto but took his time claiming his prize. Although he had only been hoping to win enough money to buy a new pickup truck so that he could launch his own business, the revelation of how much he won made him take an almost completely opposite move: retire at 43. Maintaining admirable self-control, he turned down the $11 million upfront lump sum so that, after taxes, he’d collect $17 million in 26 annual payments. This, he said, would ensure he didn’t blow all his money at once and would also allow him to retire comfortably knowing that every June his bank account gets a big injection of cash. Although there aren’t that many lottery winners with excellent advice, D.J. is clearly one of them.
The Rich 18-Year-Old, Charlie Lagarde (Gagnant à Vie)
When Quebec resident Charlie Lagarde turned 18, the legal age that people can buy lottery tickets in Canada, one of the first things she did that day was go out and buy herself a lottery ticket—simply because she could. While neither she nor anyone else could’ve ever predicted that she’d actually win, that’s exactly what happened when she scratched off the Gagnant à vie (“Winner for Life”) scratch ticket she had bought for $4 that entitled her to $1,000 per week for the rest of her life. Since Canada doesn’t tax lottery winnings, she will get that full amount for as long as she lives—which could end up being over $3.6 million if she lives to her late 90s. Had she taken the lump sum, however, she only would’ve received $1 million. Charlie is quite an anomaly on this list, as she is not only the youngest person on this list, but also one of very few people who won big with their first lottery ticket purchase ever.
The Retired Vietnam Vet, John Stresing (NY Cash4Life)
It would be hard, if not impossible, to say that John Stresing didn’t live an interesting life. Having served in the Vietnam War, worked as a steel worker for years, and raised a happy family before retiring, the West Seneca, New York, resident hit the Cash4Life jackpot in February 2015 and had the choice to take his winnings as a $7 million lump sum that would instantly get heavily taxed or as $1,000 daily payments ($365,000 annually, pre-tax) for the rest of his life. Being the generous family man that he is, John decided to split his winnings equally with his son, meaning they’d each collect $182,500 per year. That’s quite a gift!
The Anonymous 35-Year-Old Ottawa County Woman (Super Raffle)
The Michigan Lottery offers up a pretty solid lottery game selection for the state’s many lotto enthusiasts, and one of those games is the Super Raffle. One day in October 2018, a 35-year-old woman scanned her ticket and got the type of message on the LCD screen that all of us dream of getting: she won the $2 million jackpot! She had the option to receive her winnings as a one-time lump sum of $1.3 million (pre-tax) or the full amount spread over 30 annual payments of $66,666. She opted for the latter so that she could spend the money wisely and invest in her children’s education.
While most winners may choose to receive their winnings as a cash lump sum, the examples above show that there are still plenty of other winners who prefer to receive their winnings over a drawn-out period. While all winners should carefully consider the dilemma between annuity payments vs. cash lump sums and choose the option that’s ultimately best for them, those who choose annuities are generally at peace with their decision, and we cannot blame them. After all, not only did they manage to get the full amount of their incredible jackpots rather than the scaled-down lump sum amount, they also are able to avoid the temptation to quickly blow all their winnings. And when you know that you have millions at your disposal, you might need all the help you can get to ensure you don’t lose control.