Would You Accept Government Food Assistance If You Won The Lottery?

Lots of Cash MoneyLucky Amanda Clayton, 24, recently won $1 million dollars from the Michigan State lottery. The interesting point about Amanda is that even after winning the lottery, she is still using her “Bridge Card” for food.  The Bridge Card is essentially a $200 a month state funded food program (food stamps) for people who have lost their jobs or fall under a certain income threshold.

When asked by a local reporter why she is still accepting food money from the government, she responded, “I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn't, I thought maybe it was OK because I'm not working.”

And when asked by the reporter whether she felt it was morally right to accept food money designated for low income people, she replied, “I feel that it's OK because I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay. I have two houses.

My initial reaction to the story was that of excitement for Amanda.  She was basically down and out, with no job and just won a million bucks!  Someone had to win the money, so it might as well have been someone most in need, rather than someone who is already rich right?  After all, a couple million people probably spent $2 in after-tax money to buy this particular lottery, thereby already helping fund the state once again!


The headlines say Amanda won $1 million dollars, but that is FAR from the case.  Amanda might have won $1 million gross if she accepted a graduated payment over a number of years.  Instead, she accepted a lump sum payment that reduced the total gross purse to $700,000.  If you slap on a 30% effective tax rate, Amanda is left with just $490,000 of her original “$1 million” lottery win!

$490,000 is still a lot of money no doubt.  However, $490,000 is still $510,000 less than $1 million!  In San Francisco, you can only buy a 800 square foot studio for $500,000!  Good thing Amanda lives in Michigan and bought her new house and car with cash!  So where the hell did the $510,000 go?  Back to the State Government of course!  When was the last time you paid a $510,000 tax bill?


There is a massive uproar over how Amanda has spent her winnings, and how she doesn't feel morally wrong with continuing to legally accept $200 a month in food assistance from the government.  I understand the uproar, but how she spends her money is her own business.  It's not like she put $500,000 down on a $2.5 million dollar house and now carries a $2 million mortgage.  Her two largest assets are 100% paid for!  How many people can say that?  Why are people so envious?

As Amanda said, she has no job, therefore she doesn't have a steady stream of income.  Let's say she spent $200,000 of her $490,000 already.  Her $290,000 sitting in the bank at a 0.5% interest generates her only $1,500 a year or only $125 a month.  Let's say she invested all $300,000 in a 7-year CD at 2.25%, she's still only receiving $6,750 a year in interest income.  $562/month is still not easy to live on, hence her decision to have a $200/month food supplement.


Yes, we should probably redirect the $200/month to families who need the food the most.  However, Amanda collecting $200/month even after receiving $500,000 is perfectly legal, and it's not like she's been collecting for years after she won the lottery.  She just won the lottery this year for goodness sakes!

I bet most people would keep on using their free $200/month food card if the money kept on coming in.  Amanda was just foolish enough to open her mouth on TV!

If you have paid tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxes in your life, would finally getting back some money from the government in the form of a $200 / month food card be really that bad?  One could even argue that with no job, it would be financially irresponsible for her not to accept $200/month in supplemental income.

I fear that Amanda will spend all her money very quickly and be left with hardly any savings by the time she's 30.  If this is the case, at least she owns her car and house free and clear.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

Readers, would you accept government food assistance if you won the lottery?  I have a feeling all of you are going to say “no”. One of the main questions is, why not sell the old house and raise some more money?



Related Post:Millionaires Need Love Too You Know” is a case for letting millionaires collect unemployment.  I plan to make you a believer that we should not discriminate against rich or poor, given both rich and poor have paid into the system and deserve equal treatment!

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110 thoughts on “Would You Accept Government Food Assistance If You Won The Lottery?”

  1. Paula Kenney

    First of all I am happy for Amanda winning the lottery. She was poor, and bought her houses and car. She must have felt wonderful to be free of debt, but after she spent on those items, she began to feel she would be poor again. She must have been accustomed to the life she was living before, and found it hard to give up her benefits after she won, but she was wrong not to report it, and is greedy. She bought two houses. She could have bought one house and one car, and have been grateful by reporting her winnings to the welfare department.

  2. you are right about she has the right to do whatever she wants with her money. But she should of also been more responsible financially, maybe it would of been good for her to do some reading, read some financial blogs, books, get educated about money. Its great that she paid of her two biggest assets. But now she may barely have any money left. If i was her, I would of got caught up on all the loans payments, paid off any high interest loans and credit cards. Set aside the rest of the money for future home loan payments, and start looking for a job.

    Like some one else said before above. Now she has to worry about if she has enough money to pay property insurance, future utility bills, living expenses. This 500k could of been used better as great buffer instead while she looked for other ways to make money.

  3. Edit: There is proposed new legislation to require a cross-check between lottery winners and various assistance programs.

  4. What she did was illegal and she may be forced to pay it back.

    According to an article on Fox News:
    “The Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) said Wednesday that the woman was no longer receiving benefits and warned that people who continued to receive handouts in such circumstances may face criminal investigation and be required to pay back those benefits.”

    Read more: https://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/03/08/michigan-woman-who-won-1m-lottery-but-kept-using-food-stamps-loses-benefits-141935620/#ixzz1pElcH1g6

    Under DHS policy, “a recipient of food assistance benefits must notify the state within 10 days of any asset or income change.”

    In addition, there was Michigan legislation requiring the lottery to disclose to DHS a list of winners to cross-check against people receiving assistance.

  5. I find it completely shocking that both the sponsor of this site that calls itself “Honorable Personal Finance” and so many readers of “Honorable Personal Finance seem to think that welfare fraud is okay. The attitude seems to be “hey it’s free money, why not take it?” Sam even said that the only thing she did wrong was talk to the reporter. I ask you, where is the “honor” in welfare fraud? It’s a felony.

    Oh, by the way, I earn my living as a welfare fraud investigator for the State of Michigan.

  6. Umm, if we’re paying for her to eat, why is she spending money on the lottery, and where is she getting that money to play the lottery?

    Amazing… As I shake my head and go eat a microwaved grilled cheese sandwich…

  7. I think as long as she is eligible, she is entitled to it. The problem is that she is still eligible not that she is taking the money….

  8. Kim @MoneyandRisk

    Just throwing this out there for consideration:

    Are you ok with taxpayer’s money supporting someone else who happens to have $300,000 sitting in the bank and 2 houses free and clear to get welfare and food stamps?

    What about if they had $2 Million in the bank and 2 houses?

    They would be in Amanda’s situation as well if they show no income. If it’s ok for her then it should be ok for them. They paid lots of taxes on income over the years too to accumulate those assets.

    Just an interesting tidbit. Another news source mentioned that she stayed on welfare as well but I don’t know how reliable that is.

    1. Kim, I would not have a problem with it, so long as they don’t go on TV and boast about it. I do not know how much in taxes these examples have paid into the system, but probably A LOT, and way more than others.

      People have got to stop judging who gets to drink from the well or not. Nobody should begrudge someone who is poor whose paid 1/100th the amount of taxes to still collect benefits.

  9. Is that Unemployment Benefits + Food Stamps + 2 houses? Wait she has one body does she really need 2 houses…people homeless out there.. How much does she rake in with unemployment and food stamps? Quite enough I’m sure, sounds like a spoiled situation and I don’t think she needs it. I don’t think I’ll see $450K in cash in my life!

  10. You know what I’m fearful of means testing Social Security benefits – if you don’t need it you should not get it!

    Well the reason I might not “need it” is because I saved a good portion of my salary. So if you means test Social Security – I get penalized for saving/investing and the person who spent all his/her income gets to keep their social security!!!

    1. Yes, this is the case AGAINST discrimination based on wealth/income.

      Why should we punish people who saved and invested diligently, and paid taxes into the system? That’s just nuts!

      1. This is way I shake my head about those that get angry that millionaires receive social security benefits. Chances are, those very people contributed the max each and every year to social security. Why in the world shouldn’t they get their own money back?

        1. Indeed! Unemployment benefits is capped at $1,800 a month in San Francisco, if you make at least $44,000 a year or so. But, if you’ve been making $500,000 a year, you don’t get 10X the unemployment benefits, yet you are paying way more than 10X the taxes.

          Hence, why are people so up in arms? The rich aren’t going to get $18,000/month in UI!

        2. Doh, I used the same “shake my head” visualization down in my comment too. Honest I didn’t steal yours Kris!!!

          I totally agree with you Kris, social security benefits aren’t some welfare taxes to support everbody else that isn’t rich, that not what the program is for.

  11. So, if you have the means to be able to provide for yourself and family, why then is it ok to ask for a government handout but not ok to go to a charity or church and ask for one? We don’t blame the charity when someone scams them, why are we blaming the government? What happened to individual responsibility? Just because it’s not illegal doesn’t mean it’s not wrong.

    1. At first I was very hostile toward Amanda. Yes, the truth is that we do not really know her situation. Why does she not have a job? Is she pursuing a degree? Is she uneducated and cannot find work greater than minimum wage? Is she in a career change, etc?

      I believe the state of Michigan makes the assumption that if you win the lottery, you can plan accordingly. You should be able to utilize the money to pay for food, clothing and shelter. Thus, with this assumption, and Amanda purchasing lottery tickets, she understood that she that she would be responsible for providing for herself and not using state benefits.

  12. How is this possible??!! In lovely New Jersey I have a family member who was recieving SSI for her Autistic son. As soon as SSA found out they had $1.00 over the 3000.00 they were allowed to have by SSA guidelines they cut them off. Forget the fact that one spouse lost half their income to a cut in hours, that literal $1.00 made them ineligible. Of course now they spent that 1.00 and have to reapply for SSI. The rep. said it was a welfare based program so having savings means you don’t need help.

      1. Awww to make matters worse….she just texted me they want her to pay back the money they gave her before that 1.00 mess because they found she had an account she didn’t report with a whopping 2.13 from an old passbook account she thought was empty and closed in 1999. Now she owes SSA 4100.00. OH and that 1.00 that started this mess….it went with it’s 3000 brothers to local thift shops to replace the clothes, toys, furniture lost when their house flooded during Hurricane Irene (for 5 people) days after her SSI case closed.
        Yet I have another family member on Section 8, living in a mcmansion because she married in to a rich although corrupt family so the house is in FILs name & he just takes whatever S* gives him as rent. He paid her 10k+ bill to do IVF after welfare/medicaid paid for her tubes to be tied after she had 5 kids with 5 different men. Guess who paid all the medical bills for the pregnancy..Yup welfare. She has never reported her husbands wages (probably cause he works when he wants for daddy and is paid under the table). Yet because she has no income that can be traced she gets away with it!!!

  13. Tim Grinder

    @Dave Hilton
    Dave, using your logic would you still find it acceptable if Amanda had won 300 million in the lottery and still chose to collect food stamps?

    1. Sure, why not. If someone won a $300 million lottery, they will have paid close to $130,000,000 in taxes!

      However, if that was the case, of course that person isn’t going to be using that $200 Bridge Card anymore!

  14. Well the truth of the matter is When she won the money she should not have excepted the food stamps.However how can you blame her when our own government let her get by with it the whole system is screwed up anyway they are not fair to the elderly people who mostly get $10. amonth then you have people who have found out the more kids you have the more food stamps and assistance you get. and everybody knows it. the programs that were intended to help the poor people are so widely abused and no one cares.

  15. Ironically, I wrote about this today and I hadn’t even come across this post yet. (I haven’t been on the computer in a week, I have a lot of catching up to do.)

    I agree, Amanda will be back public assistance in record time. Legislation will eventually pass that wills top this type of scam anyway.

    What got me angriest was her attitude of ‘yeah, I deserve it, I have bills to pay’ instead of actually having some pride and wanting off the government’s payroll. She was caught using the bridge card, plain and simple, and it is long gone now because of the story.

    1. She was caught off guard, and already demonized by the media before she had a chance. I bet she would speak totally differently in a normal setting.

      At least the money went to jobless Amanda, instead of somebody who has a big bucks job and doesn’t need it!

      1. If you aren’t doing anything wrong, then being caught ‘off-guard’ shouldn’t be a problem. I think the interview happened before the demonizing even happened. Obviously someone close to her had a problem with it because the tip had to come froms somewhere.

        She is 24 years old, not 16. I know that 24 is not old per se, but it should be old enough to know better. Believe me, I could have grown up to become an ‘Amanda’, but I chose a different path instead.

        And, I hope that anyone that has ‘big bucks’ and is receiving my tax dollars is caught as well.

        1. So let me ask you this:

          Situation 1: You paid $200,000 in income taxes in 2011 and lose your job through no fault of your own today. You are eligible for $1,800 a month in unemployment benefits that you and your employer paid into. Is it not acceptable?

          Situation 2: You have a family of 2 kids and make $80,000 a year in Michigan. You have a fully paid off house and can save 10% of your after tax income. Is it OK to collect $2,000 a year in tax credit from the government, while your neigbhor, who makes $100,000 a year cannot?

        2. Not sure what you mean in the first question. Are you implying that I have a bunch of money saved up because I made a good salary and therefore should not need the unemployment? Assuming that is what you mean, then yes, I should still be eligible for unemployment because I do not have INCOME. However, lottery winnings are income. (Yes, I know, there is a flaw in that Human Svcs does not list lottery winnings as reportable income, although I am guessing because it is such a rare occurrence. I am guessing that too will change at some point.)

          Situation 2: I can’t even answer about the specifics for taxes because I think the tax code is so screwed up. However, I am assuming your point is that she is doing what the government allows her to do, just like the tax code does. HOWEVER, getting 500k is a lot different than making 80k and being able to save 8k a year. Let’s say Amanda has the 300k after paying off her house. It takes that one family almost 40 years to have the same level of savings as Amanda.

        3. First question is to help illustrate that just like a big income earner who pays a lot of taxes, Amanda also had a good windfall year and paid roughly $510,000 in taxes to the government. That money is used to fund public services.

          Second situation illustrates why we find it OK for one group to collect $2,000/year b/c they have kids, and not allow another group to collect just b/c they make $20,000 more? We should discriminate equally, or simply treat everyone equally imo.

        4. To me, Amanda’s payout of 1 mil is no different than if someone got a huge bonus one year. It is income. Just because someone pays taxes once doesn’t mean they are now entitled to milk the system for all they can. (I predict she will be a future milker anyway, as are many lottery winners that end up bankrupt and such.)

          I can’t even discuss tax laws because there are a million different variables, and many people are treated unfairly one way or another. Bring me some flat tax I say!

          Bottom line is this: Our system is flawed period. Had the system just stopped payments in the first place like logic says should happen, then none of this would have happened. In cases like that, I would hope that ‘doing the right thing’ would prevail. In my opinion, that did not happen. However, you and others may disagree, that is fine. I really believe if I had a windfall of that magnitude, I would have been calling the state or whoever and tried to figure out how to stop the bridge card payments, or I just wouldn’t use the card. I have seen so much abuse of the system that I guess it is something I feel very strongly about.

  16. You shouldn’t take any more money if you already have some. $490,000 still is a lot of money and you should not accept any more food stamps because there are a lot of other people that need that. This are hard times and austerity should be in every ones agenda, including and more importantly the state.

  17. I am glad Amanda came forward with her story. I think it is important to get these kind of stories out there as the subject of entitlement reform gets discussed.

    It is similar to people I know who are retired multi-millionaires and are still drawing their full social security benefits. They don’t need the money and they are not turning it away since the government is regularly funding them.

    Need more stories like this in the media before our cowardly politicians decide to tackle this issue.


    1. She didn’t come forward with the story. The news station was tipped off about her scamming and they were interviewing her paying for some snack items at a local store.

      There is a huge difference between millionaires accepting social security that they paid into (it is legitimately their money), and people using tax payer’s money for food when they have plenty of money sitting in the bank themselves.

      Legislation is in place so that this type of thing does not happen in the future. Her payments were also cut off once the story broke.

      1. Correction, she wasn’t interviewed at the party store, the cameras filmed her using her bridge card at the store, and the interview took place at her home while she unloading those groceries.

        1. Guess we will have to agree to disagree. I can say as a resident of Michigan, I am glad she was exposed, and I totally don’t get how she was sucker punched. She was taking advantage of the system entirely.

          If it was so ‘ok’ for her to be using a bridge card, then there wouldn’t be legislation in process to prevent this very thing from happening in the future.

  18. I don’t think I would accept food stamps if I won the lottery. I am not trying to pass judgement on her, because I don’t know her full situation. But I live in Ohio and you can buy a good house for around 100k. So I would think that there would be enough money left over to live on for quite some time, while she perhaps looked for a job or went back to college.

  19. I probably wouldn’t accept food assistance if I won the lottery (even if I DID just fork over a few hundred grand in taxes…). Then again, I don’t know… If someone’s handing me $200/month I might look at it differently… tough one. I’d hope the answer is no though.

    But my guess is she’s not going to have much money at some point soon and would be right back on the program, so she might as well save the paperwork….haha

      1. Yep – you’re right. It’s really hard to know what I’d do… but I have been known to pick up a penny on the ground, so I’d probably dive on two $100 bills like I was Michael Phelps going for the gold…

        Tough question for sure.

        1. Haha, nice. Let’s be frank. Most of us would accept $200 a month from the government, even if we are rich. Bc the RICHER you are, the more you pay in taxes for things you get very little in return.

      2. I would pick up the 2 $100 bills and donate them to charity. This year I have found a $20 and $5 bill and I donated that money to charity.

  20. I really got a laugh out of the video…Amanda is a bit of a simpleton for talking to the reporter. I don’t know what her situation was before the lottery but it appears that she already owned a home…she owned a home and received food stamps? I can’t imagine that. She’s young and capable of furthering her education, she is NOT the type of person government assistance is supposed to be serving. It’s funny though how someone who was probably from a low-income background receives a large amount of money and is now of the proclamation that with over $500K in earnings, she’s “struggling” with bills to pay on her two houses. Funny how perspectives can change, huh? :)

  21. Dollar Disciple

    Well.. she did just pay $200k in taxes so really she’s just getting some of her own money back.

  22. Wizard Prang

    How much she paid in taxes on the lottery win is irrelevant. She would kiss goodbye to the same half-mill no matter how much she was worth before buying that lottery ticket.

    The real question for me is why she continued to accept Government assistance when she obviously no longer needed it.

  23. Ashley @ TheCCI

    No, I wouldn’t accept government money. Because of the size of our family, we have qualified for government assistance before, but never taken it. All of our needs have always been met.

    Honestly, I feel sorry for this girl. She probably will not have much to show from her winning lottery ticket in 1-2 years. While it was smart of her to buy a house for cash, she could have done better by buying a less expensive house. She is in Michigan after all. Or, buying rental properties to create an income for herself. Again, she is in Michigan.

    It’s a pity someone who knows how money works did not come along side her to teach her how to put her money to work for her.

  24. I find this video hilarious, although I don’t think it’s supposed to be so funny. Anyway, to answer the question: I probably would not accept food stamps. But it would depend on what my financial situation is. As you pointed out, she didn’t actually get $1 million in her band account, so there are other considerations to make. But it didn’t sound like she was struggling that badly either.

  25. Wow that is a really interesting question. I’d like to quickly say NO but I am not sure I’d be so quick to jump off the bandwagon especially if I put so much into the system (not saying she did). Is this situation much different then your Private Equity Buddy who is collecting unemployment?

  26. When I saw this on the news, I was shocked that she owned 2 houses. If she has to accept assistance, she should rent the houses to help pay her bills. I do not think she should be eligible for assistance.
    If I won the lottery, ( I very rarely play) I could not morally feel right about accepting assistance. I think assistance should go to people who have no assets and are about to go out in the street.

  27. The 2 houses thing is what i have a problem with. She needs to either sell or rent house #2 for some income. Then maybe she wouldn’t be worried about where her food was coming from. I’m pretty sure that if it was me and it was legit within the rules for me to collect the food stamps, I’d still be collecting them. Of course I’d have taken the payments instead of the lump sum too, but that’s just me.

      1. Lol I could live on that 33k/year and do nothing else. So I’ll take the payments then enrich my life and never have to take a shitty job again to put food on the table. I’m moving to the tropics with them winnings baby. Oh wait, I don’t play the lottery. Doh!

  28. She strikes me as someone who has a grade six education and probably will never hold a steady, well paying job. To put it politely she is screwed. The windfall will run out, she will have a higher standard of living which is unsustainable. The $500,000 will likely evaporate in five years and she’ll back to square one as she attempts to unload a house she no longer can afford. What an absolute burden I could care less whether she won a million she shouldn’t be entitled to food stamps period, I’m glad she lives South of the border.

  29. Interesting point made by “pgb”, while some people are outraged by her taking government handouts if one does the math she has already put back into the system every dime she has received and then some by a large margin.

    With her estimated tax bill at $210,000 and her receiving $200 a month she is costing the state a whopping (math for slow people $200 a month x 12 months) $2,400 a year. Even if she has been on the program since she was 18 so she has been drawing that money for six years, that is still just $14,400.

    I will not debate the ethics as I feel all government handouts are unconstitutional because dependency on the state is a form of slavery and tyranny. I do however believe in Karma, which lets me know that by the time this young lady is 30 years old she will be broke and will continue to be a burden upon society. Of course, this young lady is most likely going to vote democrat to ensure the cycle of handouts and reliance upon the government is ever invasive and continual.

  30. BrokeElizabeth

    This is a tricky question… I’d like to think that I wouldn’t use food assistance, but I think it’s a situation that I could never be certain of unless I experienced it myself.

  31. I don’t see a problem with it. The government food assistance is there for anyone without a job, sure she won a bit, but she is still eligible and should therefore be allowed to collect it. Worst case scenario you could view it as her getting back some of what she lost in tax. 500K / $200 is a lot of months worth of food assistance!

    1. Exactly! Paying $500,000 in taxes in one year would make me sick, even if I did have too much Cognac with the other $490,000 after taxes. $500,000 > $490,000 in proceeds.. ridiculous!

  32. Dave Hilton

    YES! I absolutely would continue to take the $200/month in assistance. Not because I think I deserve it or am entitled to it, but because I can.

    Whether it’s government benefits, grants, tax credits/deductions or other forms of assistance- why would you leave money on the table? You should do whatever you can to use all the resources available to you!

  33. I do not know how it feels to be unemployed and w/o income. I’ve never been in that place. I have been low-income and not qualified for assistance in a family of 4 growing up. I also have never played any lottery anywhere I’ve lived; hence I have no idea how much it costs to play.

    That all said, if Amanda has “no income” because of “no job”, how did she purchase lottery tickets? After she won the money, did she report the winnings to the state as required/mandated?

    I do not begrudge Amanda her winnings; I argue against her foolishness and the silliness of others who think (or may think) that it is up to the caseworker to “cut her off.” I begrudge Amanda her flaunting her position on camera- “I have two houses…I have no job…no income” She just came off as another person with a sense of entitlement as others blame the government for not knowing a single person’s financial situation. State aid is all self-reporting. Caseworkers can only do so much within the parameters they are given to work.

    I realize we only have a small piece of Amanda’s story here. Still, it is her seeming willingness to disregard state statute and not report her winnings, perhaps not report her second home. Maybe she will say that she did not know, or something like. I will admit that I have not filled out the forms necessary for assistance, only quickly perused. They are written fairly simply, and explained by at least one knowledgeable person before signed by the applicant.

    I think it will be interesting to follow Amanda’s situation as more information unfolds.

      1. I agree with you on this, Sam. Although I don’t think she should be entitled to assistance after winning the lottery, if she actually was not doing anything illegal, it was very intrusive and embarrassing for a private citizen to be put on the spot and shown on the news like that. (Would she have to sign a release for them to air that “interview” with her???)

  34. Money Infant

    I wasn’t upset until I read the two houses statement as well. Sell one for food if you need the $200 a month so badly or at least rent it out and generate some income that way. I wonder what kind of car she bought? Oh and if she would have taken the graduated payments she would have a monthly income and wouldn’t be struggling huh?

    What really got me about this story is the fact that she was unemployed and on public assistance and still had the money to buy freaking lottery tickets. Why wasn’t that money being used for food? Oh, that’s right because she’s been eating thanks to the largesse of the government and all the tax payers.

    I want to know what her high school GPA was, she might not even be entitled to buy a car. And shouldn’t she have been taxed at 40%? What happened to the “WORK ETHIC TAXATION PLAN”?

    1. If I am President of North America, I will institute the Work Ethic Taxation Plan for the good of all!

      Good point about spending money on lottery tickets…………… if she doesn’t have a job and needs food. But in her case, it workeD!

    2. I think it depends on how much she was spending a week on lottery tickets… I think a dollar a week is OK – OK to have “a dollar and a dream”…. but any more than that, and it’s more like a very poor “investment” that she can’t afford… (even though, as Sam says, it did work this time!)

      I would think in most states, her winnings would disqualify her for assistance, which, after all, is intended as a safety net.

      1. Money Infant

        I believe the Michigan government finally came to its senses and took her off the dole.

  35. She was “surprised” that the government kept sending her money? Well, did she call to report her winnings? Her caseworker doesn’t have a crystal ball to know that somebody on her 700+ caseload won the lottery. Her obligation is to report any changes in her situation that would affect her eligibility. Michigan recently enacted an asset test (actually in response to outcry over a similar case) and even if her lottery winnings aren’t counted against her (the policy is strange, her second house definitely will be! You can’t have two houses and be on food stamps.

      1. Just Wrong!

        Even if she has 290,000 left, that amounts $24,000 a year in job earnings that would take 12+ years to earn if she had a job. We are a family of four and have struggled by on $25,000 a year for the last 8 years due to the economy, Cancer & other health issues with our daugher that were completely out of our control. We have a house payment, a car payment, etc. and can’t afford health insurance because it would take all the money per month we need to feed our family. We do not qualify for assistance. The simple fact of the matter is she is committing fraud by not reporting this income to her worker. It states in the paperwork that you must report changes in your income within 3 days of it changing.

  36. I would not take the money and frankly she should sit in her paid for house and starve to death before other people subsidize her greed. Two houses??? As you have said before Sam people should live within their means. Her chosing to buy a house and car and make other people buy her food shows she is not living within her means and legal or not is disrespectful. Many people have to sell property they owned outright because the taxes have gotten so high – if she blows all her money the same will happen to her so the point about “at least she owns the property” is not accurate. Unless you save enough to pay for the essentials and govmt demands you are not within your means.

    Now if she had said she would keep taking the money for 87.5 years to recoup the taxes she had to pay on the winnings i might feel differently :)

  37. StackingCash

    At first I thought she was scamming the system to get her government assistance. I was jealous so that clouded my judgement. After thinking about it and reading and agreeing with what you said, I say if she still qualifies for it she should use it. After all, she did pay 500k in taxes.
    I think she could lose the house even though she carries no mortgage, you forgot about property taxes :) There is also the issue of car registration and insurance so she might lose the use of the car.

    1. Ah yes, I surely did forget about property taxes, ANOTHER way for the government to collect our money!

      If Amanda didn’t win, maybe she wouldn’t have bought the house, and maybe that house would have sat in foreclosure, with the owners paying no property taxes!

  38. If the government kept sending me money, I wouldn’t say no. That being said, yes, she can choose how to spend her money any way she wants, but it’s not okay when she DOES have money and is exploiting the system.

    but i won’t get into the nitty gritty about the system….

    1. The test is, now that everybody at the Michigan State food assistance agency knows who she is, will they stop filling up her Bridge Card with $200? I doubt it. We’re all in this together!

  39. Since I didn’t accept government assistance when I did qualify, I surely wouldn’t if I won the lottery. My guess is that ultimately Amanda will fail to have any money left to pay taxes on her property and it is only a matter of time before she is totally broke again. Hopefully, she can win the lottery every five years or so.

  40. All states run lottery should have eligibility rule against people receiving food stamp, welfare, unemployment.

  41. I read about this today! I thought it was crazy. In my state, you can’t have more than $3,000 in assets in order to qualify for assistance.

  42. Most states have a maximum allowable assets restriction that keeps one from receiving food stamps if they have more than a few thousand in assets. In Missouri you can’t have more than $2000 in countable assets. It looks like Michigan needs to have a similar requirement.

      1. SSI benefits also have a $2,000 countable asset limit – go over by $.01 and you are ineligible for that month.

  43. I think most people in her situation would continue to use the card for assistance for as long as it still worked. Not everyone would probably publicly admit to doing that though. She just happened to get caught on tape! I hope she doesn’t burn through the rest of the money she has after buying that house and car. There are too many sad stories of people who end up worse off after winning the lottery than before they won the money.

  44. After College Money

    I feel both the State and Amanda share equal blame in this situation:

    The state should regulate their program better so that people like this get cut off. News stories like this piss off the average citizen watching it on TV. It is bad press for the State of Michigan. Even Amanda said she was surprised that the State kept sending her money.

    And Amanda should reduce her dependency on the government. Now that she has a windfall of money, she should get her finances in order and consider a job. There is nothing financially stopping her from getting a job. She owns a new, reliable car with a full tank of gas. She can now afford for someone to write her resume for her and she can afford a fancy interview outfit.The only thing stopping her from a job is herself and her drive. I think Amanda needs to start reading personal finance blogs :)

    1. I “blame” the State. I don’t blame Amanda for winning the lottery. I am very happy for her, as I too would be happy to win the lottery!

      The media always likes to demonize people, which I find to be pathetic.

  45. Andrea @SoOverDebt

    I can’t say I would continue accepting assistance if I won the lottery. However, as for this situation, what if she owned the house and car (both paid for) already, THEN lost her job and needed assistance? I doubt anyone would expect her to sell her house and car before she applied for food stamps. (Now the thing about two houses has me stumped – rent or sell one, silly!)

    I don’t understand why she isn’t either in school or working per the TANF guidelines set in 1996. I’d be interested to know how Michigan interprets that law and whether they are checking compliance.

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