Published March 08, 2012
LINCOLN PARK, Mich. – A Michigan woman won a $1 million lottery and continued to collect $200 a month in food stamps -- until she boasted about her situation to a local TV station and officials swooped in.
Amanda Clayton hit the jackpot in the "Make Me Rich!" lottery game show in October and, after electing to take a lump sum of $700,000 and allowing for taxes, was left with about $500,000, she told WDIV-TV.
The 24-year-old, who is unemployed, said she continued to receive public assistance.
"I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn't, I thought, maybe, it was OK because I'm not working," Clayton said. "It's hard. I am struggling."
She added, "I feel that it's okay because I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay. I have two houses."
But the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) said Wednesday that the woman was no longer receiving benefits and warned that people who continued to receive handouts in such circumstances may face criminal investigation and be required to pay back those benefits.
"Under DHS policy, a recipient of food assistance benefits must notify the state within 10 days of any asset or income change. DHS relies on clients being forthcoming about their actual financial status," DHS director Maura Corrigan said.
"Michigan DHS does not currently have the ability to verify a person's lottery winnings in determining benefit eligibility, but bills pending in the state legislature would require the Michigan Lottery to notify DHS of lottery winners.
"We fully support this proposed change. Our Office of Inspector General will continue to vigorously pursue any and all abuse and fraud in the welfare system."
A bill to stop lottery winners from continuing to cash in on food assistance has passed the state House and lawmakers are pushing for the Senate to approve it as well