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Always give back: These 5 lottery winners’ stories will inspire you

Is winning the lottery good or bad for you in the long run? Would you be one of those lottery winners that end up losing it all? Or would you use your winnings to change the world? 

The good news is that there are many people who have had their dreams come true and made a difference for the better with their earnings. Read on to learn more about these winners’ stories. 

Powerball Winnings Used to Fight Krabbe Disease

Paul and Sue Rosenau tragically lost their granddaughter, Makayla, to a rare, degenerative disease called Krabbe Disease in 2003. In 2008, five years to the day after the Rosenaus lost their granddaughter, they bought a Powerball ticket that ended up winning them $181.2 million.

Because Krabbe Disease doesn’t receive the amount of funding that many other disorders do, the Rosenaus founded The Legacy of Angels to help raise both awareness and critical funding for research. The couple serves on the board of directors for the organization.

A Cowboy Able to  Keep His Ranch Through Powerball Winnings

In 2009, Neal Wanless was a cowboy having a difficult time. Todd County, South Dakota, was one of the poorest areas of the country. 

Wanless faced challenges that included:

  • Resorting to selling scrap metal to get cash
  • Being unable to make the necessary repairs
  • Having difficulty paying property taxes

On a hunch, Wanless decided to spend $5 playing Powerball. He used the birth dates from his family members to select his numbers. 

This Powerball win was one of the biggest in history, more than resolving Wanless’ financial woes. Post-taxes, he ended up with $88.5 million.

Being able to keep his ranch and maintain it was a dream come true for this cowboy. He’s also committed to helping to give back to his community.

The Family That Worked Hard to Help Their City

Pearlie Mae Smith, a Trenton, NJ, mother of seven, raised all of her children to understand the value of giving back to their community. Volunteering in community gardens and soup kitchens made up a major part of their lives.

The family members all bought Powerball tickets that were worth a $429 million Powerball jackpot. All the family members split up the prize, with one of the daughters taking advantage of the winnings to expand her mentoring work.  

In 2016, the lucky winners set up The Smith Family Foundation to help the people of Trenton. Their work includes:

  • Youth and family support
  • Education, including Christian education
  • Neighborhood development

A Janitor from the UK Takes Home 90 Million Euros

In some countries, online lotteries have been responsible for some of the biggest wins. The biggest online lottery win was €90 million at Lottoland, won by a 36-year-old janitor. 

Christina won her jackpot two weeks after she first found the Lottoland website. Her mother helped her pick the numbers that would secure her win.

Since winning the lottery, Christina has quit her custodial job and will take a part in helping her mother to retire. Christina’s plans include traveling to the US, renting a camper, and driving across the country.

A Couple Who Has Given Away to Multiple Good Causes

In 2011, Collin and Christine Weir won €250 million. The Scottish couple set up the Weir Charitable Trust to give back to others in their community.

Some of the people they have helped include:

  • A child who needed a prosthetic limb
  • A young artist showing a lot of promise
  • A girl living with cerebral palsy

The couple also helped out a neighbor in need of housing by donating their home. Since their lottery winning, the couple has worked hard to change as many lives as possible.


Being able to stay anonymous in many places can help provide a sense of relief. Lottery winners can not only do a lot of good personally with their prizes, but they can positively impact those around them.

Even though playing the lottery is fun, think about whether you can afford to lose money from your tickets. Think of it as a form of harmless fun, rather than a serious way of making money.