Amanda Clayton Collected Public Assistance after Winning
Single mother Amanda Clayton was jobless and on public assistance when she cashed in a $1 million lottery ticket in the fall of 2011. So, that winning should have ended her need for her government check, right?
Turns out Clayton, a Michigan resident in her mid-20s, continued collecting her monthly $200 in state food assistance. She figured that since the checks kept coming in, she was entitled to keep them. In March 2012, a viewer tipped off a local TV station that tracked down Clayton; she was filmed paying for snacks with a public assistance card and then packing a moving truck for the transition to her newly purchased home. When confronted by the TV reporter, Clayton defended her right to be on public assistance. After all, she quipped, she was still unemployed and "I have bills to pay. I have two houses," a televised explanation that resulted in public outrage.
According to Michigan law, welfare recipients must report any changes to their income within 10 days. The state attorney general charged Clayton with welfare fraud, to which she pleaded no contest. She was put on probation and ordered to pay back the money she was not entitled to. A scant year after winning, Clayton died at her home of a suspected drug overdose [source: Lynch, McLaughlin].