Everyone dreams about winning the lottery. Not everyone is lucky enough to be the one who takes home the whole pot, with the odds being in 300 billion. But Mark and Cindy Hill, 52 and 51, became one of those few lucky people. And when they won the lottery, they defied the odds again by spending their money in a way no one would ever expect.
After Couple Wins $294 Million This Is What They Spent Their Money OnPublished 1 month ago
Mark and Cindy Hill live in Dearborn, Missouri. West of Kansas City by about thirty miles, the town is so small it only has a couple of hundred people as its residents. Truly a small American town, very country and very rural.
Mark and Cindy have three grown sons who are between the ages of twenty-eight and thirty, who no longer live with them, and they also adopted a six-year-old girl from China.
The Hills have lived in Dearborn forever, with a humble lifestyle that doesn’t require much. They go to church, pay their dues, and occasionally, buy a lottery ticket.
Most residents in Dearborn are living on about twenty-two thousand dollars a year, but the Hills were making less than that because Cindy had been laid off from her office manager job in 2010, and Mark was working as a mechanic in a factory. While his work was important and worthwhile, he didn’t bring home enough to make up for Cindy’s lost job.
One source of income for families is not ideal in this day and age, and Cindy was always on the job hunt - but it was hard since their daughter had been recently adopted and was adjusting to her new life. They didn’t want to leave her alone - but they also wanted to do their best to provide for her.
So Cindy took a part-time job as a waitress for the first few years of Jade’s adjustment - which meant she was working at a job she hadn’t done since she was a teenager, at the age of forty-something years old! That’s a big downgrade from the office manager, but she did it with a smile and out of love for her daughter.
In November of 2012, after Jade had been with the family for two years already, Cindy was on her way home from errands when she stopped at a Trex Mart. She needed to get some groceries and was mostly thinking about how she would make ends meet this week.
She saw that the lottery was an astonishing amount of money, and bought five tickets to try her luck. Of course, the odds of winning the lottery are very slim, so she didn’t think this would help them put food on the table - and more.
The jackpot for the lottery was the largest in the history of America at the time, and the biggest in Missouri ever. It stood at a whopping $587,500,000. That’s a lot more zeros than any resident of Dearborn had ever seen.
The odds are really against lottery winners, and with a pot that big the amount of tickets being bought was high, so the chances of a successful ticket buy were even lower.
Cindy didn’t put too much thought into the tickets she bought. She spent a total of ten dollars on the tickets and didn’t even bother putting her lucky numbers into play. Instead, she let the machine buy the tickets for her, which is not usually the strategy employed by avid lottery players.
Cindy didn’t even bother remembering her numbers! She just put the tickets in her car and forgot about them overnight, her mind occupied with more important things, like dinner and her children.
The night before the winning lottery tickets were announced, Cindy had very little hope. She told her daughter Jade that they were very unlikely to win, as it often never happens - the chances of someone actually holding the winning numbers are very slim!
The next day, however, after she had dropped Jade off at school, she went to the convenience store again. She looked at the screen where the winning numbers of the Power Ball Lottery were displayed, and to her surprise...
The numbers seemed to line up! Cindy couldn’t believe it at first. She was sure she was reading something wrong. She called up her husband Mark and said that she thought she might be having a heart attack - she really couldn’t believe it. “I think we just won the lottery!” she cried.
Cindy called her mother in law Shirley as well, and they all looked at the ticket over and over again, triple checking the numbers. But they were all right there: 5, 23, 16, 22, and the last one: 29. They were holding the biggest winning lottery ticket right there in their hands.
Six numbers changed their lives once and for all. They had won half of the total lottery money, which meant they got to take home a big check worth almost three hundred million dollars: $293,750,000 to be exact.
The media soon coined the family “the Hillionaires”, which was quite a clever twist on their name. The Hill family, meanwhile, could barely believe that all their money troubles had been solved in just one moment. What would they do with all of their winnings?
Of course, the money meant that Mark no longer needed to work as hard at his job, and Cindy didn’t have to keep working part-time as a waitress. Jade would definitely be able to go to college, and the Hills retirement fund had just gotten a lot fatter. But what else was there to do?
Did they want to spend it on expensive homes, on diamond bracelets, on vacations to exotic places? The ideas were endless, and of course all their friends and family wanted to chime in and let them know what they thought they should buy.
Months went by, and Mark had quit his job. However, he still met his friends at the coffee shop for a bite to eat and a catch up on their regularly scheduled day. He had talked about buying his dream Camaro, but he was still driving his pick-up truck that was pushing it in years, and the family hadn't moved out of Dearborn yet.
His friends were not alone in wondering: where had that money gone? Mark wasn’t wearing flashy clothes and his wife wasn’t parading about in fancy jewelry. So what had they spent it on?
The first thing the Hills did was look to their roots. Mark donated fifty thousand dollars to his hometown of Camden Point, also in Missouri. He wanted the money to go toward a sewage treatment plant.
This seems like a very strange request, but it was a life-changing one for the people of Camden Point. Camden Point had to use individual septic tanks for sewage because they were not a very well funded town. But now the residents wouldn’t have to have septic tanks on their property, and the sewage would be out of sight.
Many may say that this is an odd thing to spend your winnings on, but the Hills had made a promise to themselves and to their friends: they would use the money they had been blessed with to give back to their community.
Instead of spending all that money on themselves, they were going to use it to better the world. The Mayor of Camden Point, whose name was Kevin Boydston, said that the money could not have gone to a kinder couple.
Mark posted about the family’s good fortune on Facebook, but surprisingly they did not get too many requests from people looking for easy handouts. Mostly their friends and family were happy for their possessions.
Mark and Cindy wanted to spread love and considered adopting another child. They wanted to give most of the money away, thinking that it was all a gift from God and they were there to make sure the money went to the right things.
The Hills' son, Jason, was quoted saying that “I hope we all stay very grounded, stay humble, and don’t forget who we are,” after his parents won the lottery. It was very important to him that the family didn’t forget their roots.
Mark’s mother Shirley, who was there when they realized they had won the money, believed in her family. She thought that they would stay grounded and it was in their nature to be humble, and she was proud of them and all they would go on to do.
The Hills donated three million dollars to the fire department of Dearborn. The money went to help the department build a whole new station in neighboring Camden Point, allowing room for them to get a new ambulance as well.
Mark told KMBC that he was “proud to be a part” of a “town of 500 people [that has] an ambulance service that’s manned 24/7.” His parents were saved twice by firefighters in their lifetime, and Mark was so happy to be able to pay that forward.
The chief of Dearborn’s volunteer fire department, Walt Stubbs, told the HuffPost that the new station would have been impossible without the donation of the Hills. If they had to use tax money, it would have taken them twenty-five years to build the same station!
The Hills helped them to build one that was four times bigger than the old station and would help the firefighters and ambulance have easier access to the main roads and highways, and therefore easier access to dangerous areas. Now help would no longer be half an hour away.
The Hills wanted to help their old high school as well. They had met at North Platte High School and wanted to make sure that the place that had been so important to their relationship remained important to many other future sweethearts. They created a scholarship for Dearborn’s students.
With the help of the Hill family, the North Platte High School was able to provide aid for many Dearborn students, including college help and lunch money. The Hills also set aside college funds for their nieces and nephews along with their daughter. They helped to send many students to the university, which is a real accomplishment in a town that small.
The Hills also gave the school district enough money to build a new baseball field. The district was happy to have new funds to build a field further away from traffic so the students could play with joy and safety.
The field cost them over fifty thousand dollars in donations, and of course, Mayor Kevin Boydston was absolutely over the moon and beyond grateful to the couple. They had given the town more donation money than the town usually saw in years.
Of course, the Hills also wanted to spend some money on themselves. Luckily, they had the money to spare! It was the first time in their lives that they had ever possessed excess money to spend.
The Hills didn’t buy Camaros or fancy clothing, or pools or Porches, but they did take the opportunity to do a bit of traveling. This was something they didn't have the chance to do before, so it was certainly a treat to take their daughter to a beachside town and stay in a hotel.
Indeed, they had been dreaming of going traveling for a long, long time. Although they thought that they had been plenty blessed before in their day to day lives in Dearborn, they were really excited that they would get to see the world.
The Hills wanted to go to China with their daughter and explore her roots - and to Ireland, as they were both of Irish descent and they wanted to explore where they themselves came from. Beyond that, they would follow the wind and their own random wants, and see what they could see.
The location of the winning ticket was also awarded - the Hills’ win meant that the Trex Mart gas station obtained fifty thousand dollars. The owner of the store, Lowell Hartell, said that the money would go to Christmas bonuses for the employees, yet another gift the Hills gave to the community!
In addition, many people flocked to that very same Trex Mart to buy lottery tickets at their lucky store. In fact, they saw almost thirty thousand dollars in ticket sales - twenty-seven thousand dollars to be exact. An employee was quoted expressing her wonder that they were the ones to sell the winning ticket and all the fame that followed.
The people who knew the Hills best weren’t at all surprised to see them doing such good with their winning ticket. While money can change people, good people won’t be changed so easily, and good people are more willing to help others. And the Hills, according to their friends, are really good people.
The Mayor said all along that the winnings couldn’t have gone to a better couple, and this was proven by how much the Hills donations changed their community forever. It put the towns on the map for tourists and also allowed them to revitalize their economies.
Of course, lottery winners often receive a lot of bad attention as well. Due to all the rumors that were swirling around the small town about who the winners were, Mark ended up posting on his Facebook about the family's good fortune - and then he got thousands and thousands of friend requests!
People were asking for money and were trying to figure out how exactly the Hills would spend their cash. There were even some people who tried to sneak onto the Hills property and peer through their windows to see how they were living their lives!
There are a lot of bad things that can happen to lottery winners after they hit it big. In fact, there is a researcher who studies just that: the after-effects of winning the lottery. According to him, the Hills are an exception among the exceptions: most winners squander their money and most certainly don’t give this much to charity.
About seventy percent of lottery winners lose all the money within a few years. There are examples of people who were even millionaires before winning the lottery, who went bankrupt after winning even more money! It seems counterintuitive, but having that much money can go to your head. Ultimately, less is more.
However, there are other winners who will end up living happier lives after winning large sums of money. Indeed, the Hills are likely to live a life of long term satisfaction, for at least the next ten years after their winning.
Especially if they don’t squander their money - if they spend it smartly and don’t get caught up in a lavish lifestyle, they can remain wealthy even after a decade after their original win.
What is certain is that winners who donate money will receive a lot of love from their community in return. The new firehouse was dedicated by the Camden Point Fire Department as the Mark and Cindy Hill building.
Inside the new building, there was even a corner dedicated to the Hills for people to come and learn about the difference that their generosity had made within the town. The Hills had not asked for this recognition, and although they were grateful, they hadn’t been so generous in order to get rewarded.
However, money cannot buy immortality, and that is never as clear as to when a family is hit with an unexpected loss. Seven years after the lottery win, in 2019, Mark Hill passed away. He was only fifty-nine years old.
Mark Hill was survived by his wife, daughter, three sons, and six grandkids. The Hill family had a small private service for him in the local cemetery, and his legacy is preserved forever in the community as a kind and generous man. The family asked for donations to the fire department instead of the traditional bouquets of flowers. Even in his death, Mark remained thoughtful and giving.
Even though Mark Hill left this world, his generous spirit remains with his wife and his family. He worked hard his whole life, and he did not stop dedicating himself to the community even after he no longer had to work. The hard work and selflessness that Mark and his wife Cindy displayed put their small town of Dearborn on the map of history and reminded the entire nation what community and selflessness are all about.
The Camden Point Fire Department has said that they will never forget the Hill family. Their legacy will live on within the brick walls of the firehouse. The board president, Steve Flock, says “it’s just an amazing family” and it is very true. The Hills defied the odds by winning the lottery, and then again by being so kind and generous with their winnings and remaining humble and true to their roots as well as who they are. They are truly a couple to be admired!
What would you do if you won $22 million at a Powerball? Would you buy a new house, a new car, or even maybe a huge yacht? Something like that is probably the first thought that comes to mind when you see a Powerball billboard while driving down the highway.
However, while most people only dream about taking such a large sum of money home, one man understands what it's like to be in that situation – and he had a major surprise in store for his best friend.
That person is Thomas Cook, who had been thinking about what he would do with the Powerball jackpot years before it was announced. That long-awaited realization came in 2020 when he was finally able to execute his plan. Fortunately, he had planned ahead of time.
First and foremost, the Wisconsinite needed to call his friend Joseph Feeney and drop a major bombshell on him, you see, Thomas was planning on a bizarre win-speech and needed to have his best friend ready for it.
Years ago, Thomas Cook and Joseph Feeney struck a deal in which they agreed that if either of them ever won the lottery, they would split the proceeds equally. After that, they shook their hands. When Cook and Feeney agreed to split their winnings, the friends didn't think their handshake would mark a multimillion-dollar agreement. However, when Cook checked the numbers for his June 10th Powerball ticket, he discovered that he had won $22 million.
Still, when Cook called his fishing buddy to give him the news, Feeney didn't believe him at first. According to a Wisconsin Lottery office, when Feeney heard the news, all he could utter was, "Are you jerking my bobber?"
It's not difficult to imagine yourself in Cook's shoes for a moment, as you may have even played Powerball yourself since its inception in 1992! For those who didn't, the bottom line is that each candidate has to choose five numbers ranging from 1 to 45.
Besides picking those five numbers, they also had to choose an alternate Powerball number ranging from 1 to 45 on the scale. Cook chose his numbers and bought the winning ticket at a Synergy Coop store in his hometown of Menominee, Wisconsin, and realized he’d won while checking his numbers over breakfast shortly afterward.
Even though Cook discovered he had won $22 million, he still received less money than some recent winners. In January of this year, a record-breaking $1.586 billion was distributed to three winners.
In the early days of the game, the Powerball prizes were relatively small. The first-ever winner received $5.9 million – which, let's face it, is still a sizable sum of money in today's world. However, the game has evolved slightly over time.
Powerball came a long way since its inception in 1992, and the cash prizes have become even more generous. Still, it goes without saying that your chances of winning the Powerball lottery are extremely slim.
The odds of this happening stand approximately 1 in 292 million, which means that for the vast majority of us, all we can do is fantasize about winning. However, many of us still believe in the game due to the possibility of winning millions – or even billions – of dollars.
Cook, a native Wisconsinite, may have seen some of the state's most notable victories splashed across the front pages of local newspapers, as Wisconsin was one of the first states to participate in the Powerball.
Since the first draw in 1992, the state of Wisconsin has produced 18 Powerball winners in total. However, from those eighteen persons, one person was extremely fortunate. His name is Manuel Franco, and he became a multimillionaire in 2019.
Manuel Franco, a West Allis, Wisconsin native, became a multimillionaire in 2019. Not only that, but he also won the third-largest cash prize ever awarded in a US lottery. It's a sum that far outweighs Cook's spectacular victory.
What was Franco's take-home pay? A staggering 768 million dollars. Furthermore, he chose to receive his earnings in a single lump sum. Despite having to pay state and federal taxes on the money, Franco was able to walk away with a staggering sum of money: $326 million, according to those in the know.
If you are fortunate enough to win the Powerball in Wisconsin, you can forget about remaining anonymous, as state law prohibits you from doing so. Yes, you must make your victory public — and you must do so within the 180-day time limit.
It's not ideal if you want to keep your greedy relatives at bay. As a result, Franco was forced to go through the motions of holding a press conference. During his press conference, he also expressed his feelings about paying only $10 for his Powerball ticket.
When asked about the tickets, Franco stated that he had looked through the store's surveillance camera before purchasing them. Why? On that particular day, he was clearly in a great mood. "I honestly felt fortunate that I did look at the camera when I did," the Wisconsin resident said.
He then added, "I felt compelled to wink at it because I had a lucky feeling." In addition, Franco told reporters that he had sought the counsel of financial advisors and attorneys to help him navigate his new life as a multimillionaire.
Aside from making a few investments, he would not waste his money on expensive luxury items. Instead, he envisioned paying for his family members' college tuition, traveling the world, and generously donating to charitable organizations. Sweet!
"I have no idea what the next chapter of my life will bring," Franco said at a press conference. "It feels like a dream, and I honestly believe I'll wake up at any moment and be back in my room, in my bed." That strange sensation is undoubtedly one that only fellow lottery winners, such as Cook, can comprehend and appreciate.
Cook is much older than Franco, and he claimed to have played Powerball since the game's inception in 1992. He, on the other hand, did not do it alone. He and Feeney were frequent gamblers who often teamed up to try their luck. Actually, the two had made a pact that would take effect if either of them won - a pact they had sealed with a handshake.
Cook and Feeney agreed to split the prize equally in the event that they won. However, that pledge was made in 1992, more than 30 years before the seemingly unthinkable occurred. Yes, one of them did, in fact, win the Powerball jackpot! Cook was the lucky one, and he found out about this life-changing news over breakfast in June 2020.
While eating his breakfast, Cook matched the numbers on his lottery ticket to the digits on the winning Powerball ticket. His subsequent astonishment was documented in detail in a post-event interview with the Wisconsin Lottery.
In July 2020, Cook expressed his feelings about the encounter, saying, "It was quite an experience." "I felt like I was going to pass out when I read the first two or three numbers." We're not going to hold it against him as we would probably feel the same rush and excitement.
Luckily, Cook came to his senses and handed over the Powerball ticket to his wife. That way, she would be able to see what he saw. Cook claims she had the same reaction as he did when she saw the matching numbers.
"I kind of froze and handed them to (my wife), and she froze… She went completely still," he said briefly. He knew he'd won when he saw her reaction, and he also knew what he needed to do next – call Joseph Feeney.
Cook said the 28-year-old promise he’d made to his best pal was also on the forefront of his mind, so his next task was to ring Feeney and share the amazing news. Cook picked up the phone and dialed Feeney's number.
Feeney initially suspected Cook of deceiving him about the major development. This is an understandable assumption because who would believe at first? That is why Feeney, who enjoys fishing, recalled saying during the incident, "Are you jerking my bobber?"
In the interview, Feeney stated that he had no expectation that the men would win at any point. They began purchasing lottery tickets on a weekly basis immediately after their agreement, and they had yet to be successful.
"We said whenever the big winner comes, we're going to split it, so we buy every week ... not really thinking it would happen," Feeney said. We can only imagine their happiness when they finally got the numbers right…
After state and federal taxes were deducted, Cook and Feeney both chose to receive their winnings in a lump sum, leaving them with approximately $5.7 million in their respective pockets. Nevertheless, sharing all that wealth with his friend came as a huge surprise to many.
When Cook won, he decided to share the winnings with his best friend without thinking twice. Cook unequivocally stated that he would never break his word by simply saying, "A handshake is a handshake, man." Just wow…Everyone deserves to have a friend like this in their life.
Before they won the grand prize, both Cook and Feeney thought that if they were not required to work, they would be able to spend more time traveling and spending quality time with their wives, children, and grandchildren.
If Cook and Feeney just had a few million dollars in the bank… That would, of course, make things a lot easier. That’s why Cook was immensely relieved after collecting his winnings, and that's why Cook did what any hard-working American would do - he quit his job!
Cook gave his two-week notice and retired upon learning of his win, while Feeney was already retired from an area fire department. However, when the story of their generosity broke the headlines, a lot of people were moved.
Even Cindy Polzin, the head of the state lottery, chimed in to congratulate the couple. “Congratulations to Tom, Joe, and their families,” exclaimed Wisconsin Lottery Director Cindy Polzin. “The power of friendship and a handshake has paid off. I’m thrilled for them—their lucky day has arrived!”
Having a few million dollars in the bank is really a dream come true. It's the kind of money that would allow you to unwind in your golden years. That's why after reality set in, they began to hatch plans for the future.
While most people would go all-out and spend their hard-won money on houses, cars, jewelry, etc., Cook stated that neither he nor Feeney have grand plans for their windfall - it seems like only their humility can trump their generosity…
Cook and Feeney also said that they are both looking forward to a comfortable retirement, with Cook eager to spend as much time as he wants with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. "We can pursue anything we are comfortable with," Cook said. "There isn't a better way to spend my golden years."
However, there is one thing they will spend money on… Cook revealed that they've decided to take a road trip together with their wives, just as they did some time ago. But this time, instead of a Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible, they'll be rolling out in something more stylish.