spending

What Life Is Like After Winning the Lottery

The financial crisis and downturn in real estate turned out to be an invaluable learning opportunity for this Powerball winner.

Then:

Brad Duke (pictured at left) appeared in our April 2007 issue, two years after winning a $220 million Powerball jackpot (he chose the lump sum over the annuity, netting about $85 million after taxes). Duke, then 34, shared his goal of expanding his fortune to $1 billion over the next 10 to 13 years, primarily by investing in real estate. He was still working at Gold’s Gym and still living in the same house in Star, Idaho, that he lived in before buying his magic ticket.

Now:

Duke, 43, did not anticipate the financial crisis and downturn in real estate, which forced him to push back his goal of reaching 10 digits. “It’s more like a lifetime goal now,” he says. But the crisis turned out to be an invaluable learning opportunity. In particular, he received a baptism by fire in the hazards of business partnerships. A partner in one large real estate venture declared bankruptcy. Other partnerships had to be renegotiated. One partner even sued him. Duke emerged a more cautious and more seasoned investor. “I never rush a deal now,” he says.

The experience didn’t sour him on real estate. “One thing I’ve learned is you can always make money on commercial real estate as long as you have good partners and good terms,” he says. Today, his holdings range from apartment complexes in Brooklyn, N.Y., to a brewery in Boise, Idaho.

Increasingly, though, Duke sees his mission as less about amassing wealth and more about giving back. The Duke Family Foundation, which he started in 2006 with a $1.3 million gift, has become an important part of his life. The foundation focuses on helping children in Idaho and has donated to charities such as the local chapters of Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. And Duke’s fund-raising work keeps him involved in his community. For example, for the foundation’s last fund-raiser, a golf tournament, “we worked with almost every major business in our region, whether on sponsorships or other support.”

Still naturally frugal, Duke does allow himself the occasional luxury. He lives in a bigger house—-which he purchased during the real estate crash. He flies first-class on long trips. He even bought an Aston Martin, though he rarely drives the car because it’s too showy for Idaho roads. And he quit his job at Gold’s Gym in 2007 after we interviewed him because his fortune was attracting unwanted attention.

But wealth hasn’t jaded him. “Even after all this time,” he says, “I still think it’s so cool that it happened to me.”

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
You Can Appeal a Medicare Premium Surcharge
Medicare

You Can Appeal a Medicare Premium Surcharge

If you meet one of the seven qualifying life events, you have a good chance of getting a higher premium for Medicare Part B and Part D reduced.
June 16, 2021
6 Things to Know About 529 Education Savings Plans

6 Things to Know About 529 Education Savings Plans

Sponsored Content by Capital Group
June 9, 2021

Recommended

Avoid Summer's Rush; Plan a Fall Getaway
Travel

Avoid Summer's Rush; Plan a Fall Getaway

Prices will be lower, you’ll encounter fewer crowds, and pandemic restrictions are likely to ease even more.
June 24, 2021
33 States with No Estate Taxes or Inheritance Taxes
retirement

33 States with No Estate Taxes or Inheritance Taxes

Even with the federal exemption from death taxes raised, retirees should pay more attention to estate taxes and inheritance taxes levied by states.
June 23, 2021
18 States With Scary Death Taxes
inheritance

18 States With Scary Death Taxes

Federal estate taxes are no longer a problem for all but the extremely wealthy, but several states have their own estate taxes and inheritance taxes t…
June 17, 2021
The Ultimate Guide to Amazon Prime Day 2021
spending

The Ultimate Guide to Amazon Prime Day 2021

Prime members can plan their Prime Day purchases in advance to efficiently score the biggest and best deals throughout the two-day event.
June 14, 2021