When people fantasize about winning the lottery, they don’t just think about what they can buy for themselves. They also think about how they can help others with their winnings. But does it really happen? When people win do they follow through with their charitable plans?
For these five winners, the answer was a resounding yes. Keep reading to see some lottery winners who used their wind falls to make a difference.
1. Sheelah Ryan
In 1988, Sheelah Ryan won $55.2 million in the lottery — the largest jackpot ever awarded at that time. She believed she won for a reason, and she immediately set up a charity with the funds. During the next six years of her life until her death from cancer, her foundation helped countless people and animals, and it continues to give grants to organizations that support at-risk kids, families in transition, and the elderly, with an emphasis on Seminole County. Sheelah’s motto for the Ryan Foundation was "We will make a difference".
2. Tom Crist
Just a year after his wife died, Calgary resident Tom Crist won $40 million in the lottery. Unlike many lottery players, Crist wasn’t holding a ticket or monitoring the winning numbers. Instead, he played by subscription — for years, he’d been writing an annual subscription check in exchange for entries into several lotteries. Also, unlike most other players, Crist didn’t go on a shopping spree. Instead, he donated every single penny to cancer research in honor of his late wife.
3. Bob Erb
When marijuana activist Bob Erb won $25 million in Canada, he did not watch the money go up in smoke. Instead, he immediately started giving out the money to friends, family, and local charities. Just a month after winning in 2012, Erb had already given away $7 million — some he gave directly to charities, but in a lot of cases, he just helped out friends and neighbors. He also devoted a hefty sum to the marijuana legalization efforts which proved to be successful in 2018.
4. Ray and Barbara Wragg
When Ray and Barbara Wragg won £7.6 million in 2000, the couple had never been outside of England, but they quickly remedied that fact by booking cruises around the world. However, sailing the seas was just a side hobby — the couple’s real passion was charity. Over the next 19 years until Barbara’s death, they gave away over 70% of their winnings. Now, octogenarian Ray continues to honor her legacy with regular cruises and continuous donations.
5. Dennis Mahurin
When Dennis Mahurin won $50,000 on a scratch ticket, he decided that he didn’t want to change anything about his lifestyle. While that’s the case with many lottery winners, it’s especially surprising in this situation because Mahurin was homeless.
He bought a new tent, scheduled some dental work, and put a little in savings. Then, he gave away the rest. Mahurin handed out $100 bills to other people in his situation until the money was gone. Even more shocking — this wasn’t the first time that he had won over a grand on a scratch ticket, and he gave away most of the money every time.