For a mere $2, you too can have a one in 175 million chance of winning Wednesday’s $400 million Powerball drawing. Just be prepared to change your entire lifestyle.
“Wild Willie” Seeley of Manahawkin, N.J. has lived an interesting life since attaining his share of a $448 million Powerball jackpot in August 2012. He and fifteen coworkers at Ocean County’s vehicle maintenance garage pooled their money and had one of the three winning tickets. Their payout grossed $86,054,355. After taxes, Willie’s bank account increased by $3.8 million.
Calling themselves “Ocean’s 16,” Willie and his coworkers attended a lottery press conference and held up large yellow checks showing their winnings and the numbers they picked (58-5-25-59-30 with a powerball of 32). At a press conference, Willie stood before the media wearing tinted sunglasses and an old straw hat. “We are very happy, happy, happy.” His goal was to continue watching NASCAR races on Sunday and to get a log cabin with plenty of land where he could fish and hunt.
Like many lottery winners, Willie quit his job with the maintenance garage. His wife Donna left her position as a psychiatric hospital nurse. They assumed the medical bills for Bill’s cancer-stricken father. When their home was damaged by Hurricane Sandy, Bill and Donna used their lottery winnings to repair the roof and redesign their house’s interior. Both purchased new cars, a GMC pickup for Willie and a purple Chrysler for Donna. They bought a home for one of their children and sent another to college to complete a master’s degree. Willie also purchased a cabin in the woods with fifteen acres of land so he could hunt and fish. By all accounts, Willie and Donna Seeley have fulfilled their dreams and have the means for just about anything they desire. The problem is that they feel cursed with their instant wealth and fame.
Money tends to create more problems than it solves. Willie and Donna now have family members, distant relatives, friends, and strangers asking for help with debts, and medical expenses. To compound the problem, Willie and Donna have another fatal flaw. They are nice people who have to say “no” more often than they like.
Willie admitted, “There are days I wish we were back to just getting paid every two weeks. You have to change your whole way of life, but we didn’t want to change the way we lived. We liked the way we lived.” Granted, they have yet to donate the money to charity and return to their former jobs. They simply want to be left alone.
Willie has another troubling issue that won’t go away. He has the perfect personality for a TV reality show. Willie’s proven that he’s comfortable in front of a camera. He wears his hair long, has an equally long straggly beard, and appears untidy. He and Donna have middle-class values. Willie likes NASCAR, hunting and fishing, and has come into a windfall of money. In a world where millions of viewers watch Duck Dynasty and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, TV executives from National Geographic, A&E, Ryan Seacrest Productions, and other networks have asked the Seeley’s to star in their own series. Reality shows are inexpensive to produce and offer millions in revenue to an audience eager to live their lives through other people. Willie’s advice for anyone winning Wednesday’s $400 million Powerball is this: “Just disappear. Get lost while you still can.”
By Brian Yates