Mega Millions Winner James "Jimmy" Groves

It goes without saying that winning the lottery can change just about everything for a winner. That being said, change often proves difficult and comes with its own set of challenges, which most of us don’t think about when playing the lottery. For Mega Millions winner James Groves, he had no idea the swift changes he would experience in his life. Though excited for the win itself, it was hard for him to not be concerned about the potential problems he would soon be facing.

Mega Millions Winner James GrovesA Timely Win

In 2009, Madison Square Garden labourer James Groves was down on his luck in a big way. His financial struggles were overwhelming, to the point that he had defaulted on debts and was in the process of being sued. During that time, he didn’t have a dime to his name. He felt as if he had nothing to lose, so he did what many struggling people do: purchased a quick pick Mega Millions ticket from the Fordham Convenience Store in the Bronx, which he would pay for in instalment payments. Due to his circumstances, he certainly wasn’t feeling lucky. Regardless, he was hopeful—he had no choice but to be. What he didn’t know was that making this purchase would actually work out in his favour.

On August 28, 2009, the results were in: James was the winner of half of the $336 million jackpot. He was suddenly $168 million richer ($105 million after taxes) and couldn’t believe it. Since he had chosen the quick pick option, his numbers were randomly assigned, and he didn’t think there was anything lucky about his ticket. Fortunately, he turned out to have the luckiest numbers of all. Like other winners who chose annuity payouts, James will receive millions of dollars each year ($4 million to be exact) for over 26 years. This is certainly much more than he was used to making and likely ever would make, so obviously, he was ecstatic.

How Did James Groves Spend His Winnings?

When James was asked about how he’d spend his winnings, he humorously responded: “I’m gonna go buy me a hamburger.” In all reality, he was already making big plans for himself. He indicated that he was eager to revisit Germany, as he’d been stationed there while in the Armed Services and didn’t have enough time to do all of the sightseeing he would have liked to do. Now, he’d have the chance to fulfil that dream—but that wasn’t the only vacation spot he was dreaming about. The Bahamas was next on his list. He finally had the money he needed to see the world, and it certainly wouldn’t go to waste.

Groves’s plans, however, weren’t limited to travel. He was ready to buy a new home and a new car, as well as take care of his family, including his mother—the first person he called when he found out he’d won. Now that he was a millionaire, he was in a good place to support his loved ones the way he’d always wanted to.

The Downsides of Winning the Lottery

As many winners would say, winning the jackpot isn’t all fun and games. James Groves found that out when the endless phone calls started coming in from family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers. He was anxious that his family was in danger after he’d first received the news, specifically because they didn’t live in the best neighbourhood. Groves admitted that his dream was soon “turned into a nightmare,” mostly because the stress of being a lottery winner can be much worse than one could ever expect. While Groves was happy about no longer having to live paycheque to paycheque, he was more focused on protecting those closest to him and avoiding the obvious troubles that come with winning millions. Although New York isn’t among the states that allow winners to stay anonymous, he could’ve avoided many of these hassles if he had set up a lottery trust to claim the money on his behalf.

Where Is He Now?

Given Groves’s worries about being a lottery winner, it should come as no surprise that he has managed to keep mostly out of the public eye. However, in 2016, his name appeared on court documents when he and former NFL player Asante Samuel jointly sued Morgan Stanley for $7.8 million in damages. The case centred on poor investment advisement received by a broker who is now barred from working in the investment business. In 2018, Groves was awarded $3.3 million after the court found Morgan Stanley liable for damages due to “negligence and negligent supervision, among other charges.”


Undoubtedly, James Groves’s massive lottery win was life changing—in both good and bad ways. Still, he didn’t let the complications he faced—and that many other lottery winners face—ruin the plans he had for his winnings. Though he’s maintained a quiet public presence, we can only assume that this winner has taken the path to living his life to the fullest. His story should definitely give hope to those struggling financially, as one can never know when their life is about to change for the better. We all dream of winning the lottery, and sometimes, those dreams really do come true.

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