Here’s to the county’s newest millionaires

After winning the biggest lottery jackpot in Colorado history, Judy Finchum of Clifton ignored one key piece of advice that financial experts typically give to lottery winners.

She spoke to the press.

She also took her winnings as a lump sum on the advice of her accountant. At 67, Finchum declared herself “too old” to maximize her payout through yearly payments.

Beating the long odds to a huge $66 million payday, Finchum and her husband, Mac, now face a new challenge that only a handful of Americans will ever grapple with — staying happy after a lottery windfall.

It’s a fascinating topic, giving rise to news reports like CNBC’s recent “Here’s why lottery winners go broke,” which included some grim statistics. Lottery winners are more likely to declare bankruptcy within three to five years than the average American. The story pointed to studies that have shown that winning the lottery does not necessarily make winners happier or healthier.

We’re betting on the Finchums to buck the trend. In sharing her story with the Sentinel’s Erin McIntyre, Judy Finchum recounted a hardscrabble childhood that set the tone for a lifetime of practical ways.

There are no mansions in her immediate future. But she would like to use some of her newfound riches to assist victims of recent wildfires and hurricanes. A trip to visit family in Florida is suddenly affordable — as is a new pickup for Mac.

“I don’t think being extravagant is the way God want us to be,” she said, “We had a good life before this happened, but this makes it that much better.”

If the Finchums aren’t the wealthiest residents of Mesa County, we’d like to now who is. They’re worth more than the entirety of Mesa County’s general fund. They have more money than what the Milwaukee Brewers will spend on an entire roster of Major League Baseball players this season.

By going public with her lottery win, Finchum gave us a glimpse of the dream — the one that has us plunking down a dollar or two at the convenience store each week for the chance to be corrupted by riches.

Forgoing anonymity invites the leeches and the distant relatives and the casual acquaintances and the hard-luck Charlies to complicate the Finchum’s lives.

“We’re pretty level-headed,” Judy Finchum said. She doesn’t see their lives changing much and they’re not worried that someone might take advantage of them.

They’re living the dream, feeling blessed and wanting to share their good fortune with loved ones. We’re rooting for the dream not to become a nightmare for this salt-of-the-earth couple.

 

 

They’re living the dream.


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