Financial security only real change for lottery winner
If Jimmy Marx wants the new Aston Martin DB9 sports car, 184 grand is no problem.
Neither is Samsung’s new 110-inch Ultra-HD television, the one that sells for $150,000.
Steak every night? Nah, steak every meal. And make it filet mignon.
Schenectady’s Marx has the dough. He made a deal with the New York State Lottery last year — if he bought the right Set For Life scratch-off ticket, the lottery would cough up $5,000 a week for life.
That’s how the sting went down. Marx bought a winning ticket at the Stewart’s Shop at Freemans Bridge Road and Maple Avenue in April and decided to take a lump-sum jackpot of $4,222,946. That came out to $2,794,754 after taxes — the monetary figures equaled the cash value of the game’s $5 million minimum.
A little over a year later, the 51-year-old Marx is still smiling over his windfall.
“I paid off our house,” he said. “I paid off my truck. I spent $200,000 paying off my kids’ student loans and gave the kids a little bit of money to pay off their personal stuff so they could have a fresh start.”
And when Marx’ father, James Sr., passed away last July, he was able to take care of the funeral expenses.
“I was honored to be able to do that,” he said. “I paid for the whole thing, took the stress off my four sisters and my mother.”
Marx is learning things about wealth and finance. On the plus side, Marx has financial security. He can pay off his credit card every month and max out his 401(k) contributions. On the minus side, guys from the Internal Revenue Service wet their beaks in the Marx bank account earlier this year. A man with millions of dollars is in a higher tax bracket, and the high-flying Marx had to write a check for $476,000 in April.
“That sucked,” he said.
Marx has also learned about the stock market. A man of means can afford to invest in the stock market. But even a millionaire gets nervous when prices go skydiving.
“Right away, after the first week, I watched $50,000 disappear,” Marx said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I called up my financial advisor, and I said, “I have a threshold, and I’m at it.’ ”
Marx, who has lost 35 pounds since his financial liberation, spent some time in Las Vegas with wife Colleen. Spent some money, too.
“I rented a suite and rented a cabana at the Golden Nugget,” Marx said. “Then I introduced myself to a casino host who ended up comping us the suite, the food at the restaurant and the cabana after she saw how much you played and spent. I spent, I think it was $1,400 for a week, that’s gambling and everything.”
People who win big money might think friends and relatives will be lining up at the front door, hands out and stories ready. Marx considered the scenario.
“I thought it was going to be relentless phone calls and people coming over,” he said. “The lottery kind of tells you what to expect. It really wasn’t that bad.”
He’s no Scrooge McDuck. Marx will take people out for lunch, like some of the folks he works with as a project foreman at Precision Glass in Scotia. And he’ll buy a few drinks for pals at Rookies Sports Bar and Grill on Van Vranken Avenue.
Marx still likes to cash checks and count green; that’s one reason he’s on the job at Precision.
“I still look forward to Fridays,” he said, “so I don’t have to work Saturdays and Sundays.”
Success hasn’t changed the affable Marx. He’s still driving his 2006 Ford Ranger — though he bought a snowplow for it last winter — and he’s still picking up shirts at Wal-Mart.
Marx no longer buys scratch-off tickets. And he offers his wisdom to people who are placing their future financial security in the hands of the New York State Lottery.
“I got lucky,” he said. “My advice to people is, if you saved the money that you’re going to gamble, you’ll probably be better off in the end. It sounds weird coming from me. Just think, one chance out of 6.5 million. You think about all the tickets that are in the state, just to find one ticket after scratching off tickets for 20-plus years.”
Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at email@example.com.