In many states, lottery winners must do a bit of publicity work before they can plop down some cash for their own water park or go on a decades-long shopping spree so epic that the public nicknames them “Spend, Spend, Spend.”
By law, many must have their names publicized or do mandatory news conferences — a convention that serves to both silence whispers that the lottery system is fixed and to convince other would-be ticket-buyers that “this, too, could be you.”
But the publicity that comes with a person’s newfound and sudden wealth can turn a lottery winner into a target.
Perhaps with that in mind, police have beefed up patrols around the home of Mavis Wanczyk, according to the Associated Press. On Wednesday Wanczyk was a hospital worker. On Thursday, she became the winner of the largest undivided lottery jackpot in North American history — some $758.7 million.
She is no longer a hospital worker.
“This is a great thing,” Officer Michael Wilk, a spokesman for Chicopee police, said Friday, adding that a police car is parked in Wanczyk’s driveway. “We want her to know we’re there if she needs us.”
Wanczyk took a lump-sum payment of $480 million, leaving her $336 million after taxes.
According to the Associated Press, “members of the media and others have descended on the neighborhood.”
Wilk told the AP that neighbors reported other people hanging around “knocking on doors, asking people where she lives. We’re not going to tolerate her being harassed or bothered.”
Falling prey to fraudsters or robbers is one thing, but for some lottery winners, a life-changing win has morphed into a death sentence.
In November 2015, Craigory Burch Jr. matched all five numbers in the Georgia Fantasy 5 drawing and won a $434,272 jackpot, The Washington Post’s Lindsey Bever reported.
Two months later, police said, Burch was killed in his home by seven masked men who kicked in his front door. His family members said the public announcement of the lottery winnings had made him a target.
“When they came in, he said: ‘Don’t do it, bro. Don’t do it in front of my kids. Please don’t do it in front of my kids and old lady,’ ” his girlfriend, Jasmine Hendricks, told WALB-TV at the time. “He said, ‘I’ll give you my bank card.’ ”
Abraham Shakespeare won a $30 million lottery prize in 2006. Two years later, he was approached by Dorice “Dee Dee” Moore, who said she was writing a book about how people were taking advantage of him. She soon became his financial adviser and slowly siphoned away his money, according to Fox News.
“She got every bit of his money,” Assistant State Attorney Jay Pruner said in closing arguments. “He found out about it and threatened to kill her. She killed him first.”