US jostles for $500 million lottery jackpot, second largest in country's history

The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Feeling lucky? Americans on Wednesday lined up for last-chance tickets before a $500 million lottery drawing, the second largest in the country's history.

Even past winners of huge jackpots weren't immune to the excitement.

On Tuesday, Dung Tran, a Vietnamese immigrant, walked into the same Nebraska store where he bought the winning ticket six years ago and bought 22 tickets for Wednesday's drawing from the same employee who sold him his prize-winner, cashier Janice Mitzner said.

"We joked about it," she said. "I told him, 'Wouldn't it be something if you won again?'"

Whoever wins is being warned to be careful with the sudden wealth. The National Endowment for Financial Education non-profit estimates that as many as 70 per cent of people who land sudden windfalls lose that money within several years.

"Being able to manage your emotions before you do anything sudden is one of the biggest things," said endowment spokesman Paul Golden.

There's the two-time New Jersey lottery winner who squandered her $5.4 million fortune. A West Virginia man who won $315 million a decade ago later said the money was to blame for his granddaughter's fatal drug overdose, his divorce, hundreds of lawsuits and an absence of true friends.

"I know a lot of people who won the lottery and are broke today," said Sandra Hayes, who split a $224 million Powerball jackpot with a dozen co-workers in 2006 and collected a lump sum she said was in excess of $6 million after taxes. "If you're not disciplined, you will go broke. I don't care how much money you have."

She spent a week in Hawaii and bought a new Lexus, but six years later still shops at discount stores and lives on a fixed income — just at a higher monthly allowance than before.


Associated Press writer Alan Scher Zagier contributed.