13 Lottery Success Stories and Winners Who Are Still Rich

By Martin Green | Updated on 10 Feb 2022

What happens to people who win the lottery? Is it a positive life-changing experience that makes them really happy?

Hitting the big jackpot can be the culmination of your wildest dreams. They say money doesn’t buy happiness, but it can make lots of people happy if used in the right way. Lottery winners who share their winnings with others really exist.

Some people manage to win hundreds of millions through the purchase of a single lottery ticket. For most, winning just a couple of million is enough to change their life.

We have found multiple stories about lottery winners who have maintained or improved their wealth.

Has anyone won the lottery and stayed rich?

It has been reported that 70% of lottery winners end up broke. However, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) this statistic is not backed by conclusive research, nor can it be confirmed by the organization.

It would be really hard to provide such a study. Even though we do not know the exact number, it is understandable that some people stay rich and others go broke.

Have any lottery winners notably increased their wealth?

Yes. Some winners have invested in real estate, oil, gas, low-risk bonds or even in themselves. These people never have to work again. Not for money.

Many winners are still working and continue to play the lottery. Some of them have won more than once. What a stroke of luck!

Cynthia P. Stafford, $112 million, California

Back in January 2007, Cynthia’s financial situation was critical. After her brother was killed by a drunk driver, she decided to take in his five children. She raised them as a single mother and also helped out her father with living costs.

Struggling to get by, she often dreamed about winning the lottery. She regularly thought about an exact winning amount of $112 million in Mega Millions. She slept with this number under her pillow and constantly focused and meditated on it. It became an obsession.

Three years later she won the incredible amount of $112 million! Cynthia credits her win to the law of attraction and to constant prayer. Since her big win she has used the money to sort out her financial problems and to start a film company to follow her dream career.

Cynthia is not giving up hope of winning big again in the future either. She still buys lottery tickets every week in the hope of becoming a multiple jackpot winner!

Fun fact. Robert Lusting won the lottery seven times from 1993 to 2010.

Pearlie Mae Smith, $429 million, New Jersey

Pearlie Smith and her family won the $429 million Powerball jackpot in 2016.

Instead of buying frivolous items like sports cars and luxurious yachts, they chose to spend their winnings wisely. After paying off their debts, they made positive change by establishing the Smith Family Foundation.

Through its Christian beliefs, the foundation focuses on improving the quality of life in the family’s home town of Trenton, New Jersey. Priorities include education, neighborhood development, education and support for poor families.

Rather than simply handing out cash and supplies, the group focuses on empowering the community into finding its own employment and getting proper education.

Through good family, high morals and strong beliefs, anything is possible. Thank the Lord!

Paul and Sue Rosenau, $181.2 million, Minnesota

Paul and Sue Rosenau won the $181.2 million Powerball jackpot in 2008. Fortunately, they knew exactly what they wanted to do with the winning prize money!

Five years earlier, their granddaughter Makayla died of a rare and incurable disease. Krabbe disease is a degenerative illness that affects 1 in 100,000 newborns. It attacks the lining of the nerves and most babies die within two years.

The generous grandparents established The Legacy of Angels Foundation. This organization focuses on increasing disease awareness and helps families pay for treatment and medical expenses. It also funds further research and development initiatives. Since 2009, the foundation has awarded Krabbe disease researchers over $10 million in financial grants.

The couple also donated more than $10 million to their rural community of Waseca, to the local church, families in need and to the local fire station. The Rosenau’s are a great example of how to make a winning jackpot work for all.

Tom Crist, $40 million, Canada

When Tom won $40 million on a Canadian Lotto Max in 2013, he had other ideas. Instead of lavishing the cash on dream holidays and materialistic items. Tom donated every single cent to fight the illness that killed his wife! Cancer.

Jan Crist died two years earlier from the disease. She was only 44! Tom was retired by then, financially stable and with grown up children. He therefore decided to give the entire winning amount to a cancer charity in Calgary.

In the words of Tom’s son, Dallas, “'I’m pretty proud of him, I wish I was half the man he is. It’s incredible what he’s doing. It just kind of blows my mind”.

Allen and Violet Large, $11.2 million, Canada

The loving Large couple won the $11.2 million Lotto 6/49 jackpot in July 2010.

With both already comfortably retired and in their 70s, they decided to give it all away!

“You don’t miss what you’ve never had”, said Violet. “Because we have each other, the money means nothing”, explained Allen.

With Violet battling cancer, the couple donated the bulk of their winnings to hospitals in Truro and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Money also went to the local fire department, churches and cemeteries and to other good causes.

“It made us feel so good”, said Violet.

What about those who regret their winnnings. Read about 12 lottery nightmares and winners who have blown it all.

Mofijul Rahima Sheikh, INR 10 million, India

Mofijul won INR 10 million ($150,000) at just 22 years of age through the Kerala state lottery in India. Although this isn’t much money in relative terms, in India this is equivalent to 625 years worth of wages.

Mofijul spent his entire first day’s wages of INR 50 ($0.75) on a Karunya lottery ticket. Known in India as the “compassion lottery”, the ticket was bought from a disabled vendor to help him out.

The jackpot was so much money that Mofijul spent two days hiding at the local police station before he dared to go to the bank following the Hindu holiday of Shivaratri.

Mofijul can now afford to buy a house and support his family. He no longer needs underpaid construction work.

Bob Erb (Herb), $25 million, Canada

At 60, Bob isn’t interested in luxury yachts or villas. His main focus is the legalization of marijuana and the local charities in his hometown. Bob won $25 million in 2012 after buying a lottery ticket in Calgary when traveling to his father’s funeral.

Bob had been trying to win the lottery for 43 years. He finally won it big time! Initially, he kept on working while donating his daily salary to the food bank.

Later, he contributed $1 million of his winnings to 420 Day (weed day), an annual event to support marijuana legalization. Winning the lottery couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Interesting fact. 85% of winners choose to remain anonymous. However, this is not so easy in the United States. Most states are compelled to reveal the winner’s identity. Many winners therefore choose to create anonymous companies before making a claim.

Neal Wanless, $232.1 million, South Dakota

In 2009, South Dakota cowboy Neal Wanless was dead broke! He struggled to pay his property taxes and his ranch was falling apart. In South Dakota, 48% of the population live below the poverty line.

His family home was repossessed by the bank and he, his parents and his brother moved into a camper. They even sold scrap metal to make ends meet for a while. Spending $5 on a ticket at a local gas station, Neal won $232.1 million on the Powerball lottery!

Naturally, he decided to buy his own ranch. Now, the 50,000 acre property spanning hills and grazing pastures has been evaluated at $41 million! You’ve got to admit. Neal made a great investment.

Robert Salo, $1,000 per week for life, New York

It’s not just huge lottery wins that provide us with life-affirming stories. Sometimessmall amounts can change lives too. At just 18 years of age, Robert won $1,000 a week for life in 2012.

This was from a $2.00 scratch-off ticket. This equates to $48,000 per year before taxes. Most teenagers would spend this money on partying, traveling the world and on luxury items.

Not Robert. Instead, he chose to spend the money wisely and invest in his future. Longing to be an electrical engineer, much of his money has been invested in out-of-state college education.

Brad Duke, $220 million, Idaho

Brad won $220 million on the Idaho state lottery in 2005. He walked away with $74 million after taxes. After his windfall, Brad set about turning his winnings into $1 billion.

He hasn’t made a billion yet, but he now has nine figures to his name. He made careful investments in oil, gas, real estate and low-risk bonds.

Brad was also astute enough to start a $1.3 million family foundation.

Peter Lavery, GBP 10.2 million, UK

When Peter Lavery won GBP 10.2 million on the UK National Lottery in 1996 he was earning a basic salary as a bus driver.

Deciding to invest wisely, Peter ventured into whiskey investment in partnership with Cooley Whiskey Distillery. They make the Danny Boy brand. It has worked out very well for Peter.

He now has 30 properties spread across his home country of Northern Ireland. He has also earned more than triple his lottery winnings.

Jason Fry, $47 million, Florida

In 2007, Jason Fry won $47 million on the Florida jackpot, taking home a cool $14 million in cash. At first, he bought a new car and enjoyed his fortune with his family and friends.

But Jason decided to invest the rest! He bought a golf driving range, which currently generates $300,000 per year. He also bought a BatteriesPlus store in Fort Myers, plus three other stores later on.

His business is now a household name in Florida and Jason and his family are doing very well indeed.

Richard Lustig, MULTIPLE lottery wins, Florida

Some people win the lottery multiple times! Richard Lustig won the lottery seven times between 1993 and 2010!

Richard’s total lottery winnings total more than $1 million (not that much in comparison to really big winners, but hey!).

He has kept the momentum going ever since! He wrote the book: Learn How To Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery. It has sold many copies and Richard’s net worth is more than double his total lottery gains.

It just goes to show. There are no limits on your luck and how much you can win. Some people win more than others, while others win more often.

Fun fact. A customer left a bartender a Keno ticket as a tip in Springfield, Oregon. The ticket won $17,000 dollars! She kept all the winnings when the generous patron refused to accept anything back.


Winning a major lottery is a positive experience that massively changes the lucky ticket holder’s life.

It is now possible to win more than a billion dollars from a single ticket. This actually happens on a periodic basis in the U.S. Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries. Huge jackpots are also frequent occurrences on EuroMillions. Through careful investment and intelligent money management, winnings can help families, communities and generations for decades to come. It’s a good idea to take a step back and think about your next move before splurging millions in cash.

Most winners are delighted with their new fortunes, but not every big jackpot winner feels the same. Some people wish they had never won at all - 12 Lottery Nightmares and Winners who have blown it all.

For additional perspectives and more in-depth information, the biggest lottery winners of all time are listed in our article Who Are The Biggest Lottery Winners Ever?