We all hear the stories of lottery winners gone wrong proving that money doesn't always buy happiness or intelligence. While these stories are the ones that often make the news, there are also the lesser known stories of winners that don't make the headlines. Millions: A Lottery Story is a documentary that follows the lives of six winners and how differently they handled hitting the jackpot.
The most inspiring story of the film is that of 16 women from rural Minnesota who won $95,450,000. They were school cafeteria workers who had a weekly lottery pool that finally paid off. Four of these women are profiled especially Phyllis Breth who with her husband is also a small pig farm owner. She and most of the winners didn't even consider quitting their cafeteria jobs after winning.
They all live modestly but they helped themselves, families and their town. Phyllis's mom says "she's the same old Phyllis she always is." She has a fun sense of humor and with a twinkle in her eye jokes about how her raise at work of 20 cents an hour will "come in handy." The first thing she was excited to get for herself after helping her family was a refrigerator with a built-in ice maker.
Sue Breth, Donna Lange and Barb Nelson are the other winners profiled and along with their husbands still live on their homesteads. All of the Minneosta winners consider it a blessing but are really frugal, even to the point of bragging about their rummage sale finds.
The other two winners didn't fare so well. Lou Eisenberg, a former city worker who installed light bulbs as part of his job, won 5 million in the New York lottery in 1981 which at the time was the largest payout ever. He's now broke and living in Florida. At the time of his win, he was hobnobbing with celebrities and even was a guest on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. He says it took him 20 years to squander his millions on gambling and seems to have a rather nonchalant attitude about it.
He and another New York winner, Curtis Sharp, starred in a Lotto commercial and presented awards at the Emmy's. This was the era when big lottery winners were a new phenomenon. Curtis won 5.6 million but lost his it in bad investments. His life was starting to take a dark turn as a drinker. He decided to make a change and became a minister of his own church. He lives in Nashville and also does prison ministry.
I enjoyed this film. It shows lots of minutia of everyday living but it illustrates normal people who win and how their lives change or stay the same depending on the choices they make.
FTC Disclaimer: I have not been paid for this review and rented the film from Netflix. It's also available to view on demand from Amazon here: Millions: A Lottery Story