Most, if not all, of us have thought about what it would be like to become instant millionaires. What would we do with the money? Are many of the horror stories true that winners go through the money faster than imagined and end up in more financial troubles than before they won? Would we be smart with our money and buy just what we needed and save the rest? Its an impossible thing to say without winning. One family that won the Missouri Powerball is now able to answer the question, but what happened is probably the last thing you would expect.
Small American Family
Mark and Cindy Hill, a married couple from Camden Point, Missouri, lived a regular life. Their adult children were raising their own families now, and they had recently starting raising their adopted daughter from China who was six at the time. They were making ends meet but day by day it had become more of a struggle. Ad to that, Marks health and they seemed to be in the same boat many middle income American families find themselves in. But fortunes were about to change in more ways than one.
The Struggle Grows More Intense
Cindy had been laid off in 2010 and Mark worked as the sole supporter of their home working at a meat processing plant. While Cindy continued to look for work, she also had to content with being home enough for their daughter. Things were getting desperate, so Cindy made a fateful decision that would change their lives.
A Quick Pickup
Cindy, at the local gas station, decided to grab five Powerball tickets for the family. It set her back $10 and took moments. She didn’t pick any numbers, she went with, instead, the quick picks without use of any lottery strategy.. That left the chance completely to fate, and left any superstition or number preference out of things.
The tickets were such an afterthought that Cindy had left them in her car overnight. It wasn’t until her daughter asked her about them that she seemed to show a little remorse in purchasing them in the first place. She explained to her daughter that they were silly and no one ever won. Essentially she was saying that she threw the money away. The incredible thing is, that money came back in a big way.
A Quick Check
The tickets meant so little to Cindy at the time that she had not looked at the numbers the previous evening. She took her daughter to school, as was the usual routine, and decided to stop at a convenience store while she was out to see what the numbers were. At least she could toss them at that point and know that she had only lost $10. That is when her life changed.
The Big Moment
Cindy looked at the numbers, then her ticket, then the numbers again. Her heart started to race, but she couldn’t believe it was true. There was no chance that she had a winning ticket. Still in shock, she called her husband to double check and he confirmed the numbers. Her mother-in-law did as well. That is when she started to understand what was happening. She felt sick, like she was having a heart attack, but she quickly came to grips with the fact that she had just won a $300 million jackpot. One that would have implications she could not yet foresee.
A Passive Winner
Now, a struggling family was holding a ticket worth $300 million and needed to ensure that they would handle things correctly. First, they learned that around 70% of winners go bankrupt within years of a win (National Endowment for Financial Education), and they would end up with about half the total sum of the $600 million lottery draw. On top of that, the convenience store where Cindy purchased the ticket would see $50,000 for selling the ticket. This is common place. The ticket seller gets a sum if they sell a winning ticket. But what was to come for the Hill family was a rocky road that would test their resolve.
Once the Hills discovered and accepted that they had won the $300 million, they needed to figure out how to handle the money. They were a family struggling, now they had no need to worry. They were concerned about those that would try to take advantage of them, but eventually, they found their roots. Keep it simple, stupid, has been a popular saying for ages; a way to remind yourself that you need to stick to what you know and not let things get overly complicated.
This is just what the Hills decided. They would now travel back to China to see where their adopted daughter Jaiden was born, they would visit Ireland, their ancestral homeland, and they would keep things from getting complicated now that work was not required. But they had other plans for their winnings as well.
Staying in Character
One of the key pillars of the Hill family is their strong character. While many with such a windfall of income would immediately start looking for the fanciest things to find, Mark showed that the money would not change them. With an old truck needing replacement, he dreamed of a sports car, but decided to just buy a new truck. The Hills also set up college funds for their nieces and nephews. But that was just the start of the depth of character of the entire family.
Location, Location, Location
Much of what would occur would likely not be possible outside of the city that the Hill family called home. With a population of less than 500, Camden Point is a small rural town near the border of Kansas. While small, Camden Point has most of what you would expect from any other city in the US and it was these factors that led to the extraordinary events that would occur following the Power Ball win.
Paying it Forward
Mark wanted to let his money make a real impact and the first thing that came to mind was the local fire department. Twice in half a decade, his father’s life had been saved by the local fire department. Being a small town, it is no surprise that Mark knew the fire chief, Walter Stubbs, but more importantly the two had gone to high school together. When they approached Walter, he wasn’t sure what to say. They wanted to do something with the money to help the fire department and it started with added a new truck. That is far from where it ended.
While Walter Stubbs didn’t want to ask for much, the Hill family had already decided what they would do for the department. The firehouse was built in a way that made it very difficult to effectively reach nearby roads. There was only one way to fix this, build a new firehouse near the highway and ensure that it would allow the department to quickly serve the town. But they felt that a new high tech firehouse was not enough.
Setting the Standards
The Hills decided to make sure that the fire station would be as up to date as possible. In a small town like Camden Point it isn’t usual to have a 24 hour fire station opened. But that changed when the hills made sure that the garage was big enough to house multiple emergency vehicles and that there was a comfortable living area for the individual that would pull the long shifts to keep the station running around the clock. It seemed the Hill family had paid their dues for their good fortune, but they were just getting started.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
The Hill family already ensured their town was safer, but they wanted to also ensure that the residents had a way to enjoy their free time as a community. An old baseball field, which was not structurally sound, was closed and a new one was built. The old one was close to heavy traffic and they wanted to ensure the new field would be safe and much more up to date for their community. But, still, the Hill family felt they could do more.
A Ground Swell
Next, Mark and Cindy looked at the issues of living in a small town and realized that relying on septic tanks could cause issues for residents. They wanted to find a way to make it a more modern and advanced living area, so, they purchased a $50,000 sewage treatment plant for their community. You can guess by now that they weren’t done yet.
Back to School
After everything the Hill family had already provided for their town, they felt that there was still more they could do. They looked to the past to find some way of making a big impact and saw what was facing them all along; education.
Providing a Future
The Hill family decided that the best course of action would be to start a scholarship fund for students at North Platte High School. This would ensure that students could expand their knowledge locally and throughout the world as they moved through college. The fund would let them reach those dreams that they may not have been able to otherwise.
The Gratitude of a Community
The winnings and the way in which the money was spent cast a lens on the small town. People were curious about the story and it brought a great deal of interest to the quiet little town. Kevin Boydston, the Mayor of Camden Point, tried to express his gratitude in every way possible. They had done, in months what would have taken decades to complete. Boydston, though, knew the Hills and could not think of a more deserving family to win the money. There was little doubt that they would act exactly as they always had, but with the financial ability to act on what they felt was right.
What was Left?
After everything the Hills had done, how much money was still in their pocket. No one knows for sure, but as they one half of the total lottery winnings, they had an estimated $136.5 million which was the total after taxes of the lump-sum payment. They spent no where near that kind of money and had plenty to live anywhere in any house, in any country in the world. But as you may expect, they decided to stay in Camden Point and make no changes at all.
The More They Change the More They Stay the Same
Mark, Cindy, and the rest of the family still enjoy life the same they did before the winnings, albeit likely happier in the fact that they made such a difference in their community. Outside of not needing to work, the family has not changed much about their lives. Coffee with friends, shopping at the same stores, everything has stayed the same, but the town was changed forever.