NEW YORK — With a $422 million Powerball drawing Wednesday night, potential lottery winners are contemplating how they would use the newly-acquired cash.
For one Georgia man who struck it rich last year, the answer was crystal clear.
Ronnie Music Jr., 45, used his $3 million lottery winnings to purchase and distribute crystal meth. He pleaded guilty last week to federal drug and gun charges and could face life in prison.
Investigators found that Music was supplying meth to a group of accomplices, who were attempting to sell 11 pounds of the drug, which adds up to more than $500,000.
As part of the investigation, the agents seized over $1 million worth of meth, firearms, thousands of ammunition rounds, multiple vehicles and more than $600,000 in cash.
Music is not the only lottery winner to make an unusual investment.
Jay Vargas won $35.3 million from Powerball at the age of 19, making him one of the youngest lottery winners in the United States. Vargas knew he wanted to use part of that money to do something in the entertainment industry.
The South Carolina resident partnered with friends in the industry and created a television show called Wrestlicious TakeDown, a sketch comedy featuring scantily clad professional female wrestlers.
“When we pitched it, I think the show more so spoke for itself,” said Vargas, a lifelong wrestling fan.
But after only one season the show went off the air in 2010 in the U.S., where it had earned thousands of viewers. Vargas was out nearly half a million dollars of his lottery winnings.
He told CBS News that there is a reality TV show currently in the works based on the original program. Vargas advises future lottery winners to take a step back after the exhilaration of winning dies down.
“If I had to do it all over again, I would recommend people just sit on it for a year ‑- really decide what they want to do with it,” Vargas said.
Other lottery winners used their payout to aid causes in their local community.
John Kutey, one of seven sharing a $319 million Mega Millions jackpot in 2011, donated part of his $19 million lump sum to build a water park in his hometown in honor of his and his wife’s parents. Kutey used $200,000 of his winnings to replace a 1940’s park in Green Island, New York. The new Spray Park opened in 2013 at no expense to local tax payers.
Canadian Bob Erb turned much of his $25 million Lotto Max winnings in 2012 into charitable contributions.
Within a year, he had donated an estimated $8 million. Some of his causes, however, are controversial. Erb, a marijuana activist, pledged $1 million to help legalize marijuana. He is one of the biggest financial backers of Canadian events related to 420 Day, a movement for marijuana legalization.
For those eagerly awaiting the Powerball jackpot drawing, NerdWallet investing specialist Dayana Yochim offered more conventional recommendations. She said a lottery winner’s first step should be to contact a general financial planner and a tax attorney.
Yochim also said to establish an emergency fund and ensure lottery winners have a living will, or the state could control the division of their assets after death.
“The everyday rules in finances apply to everyone,” she said.
Yochim advocates investing money to keep up with inflation, but that does not mean using winnings to fund a meth ring.
“It might be a great return for your money,” Yochim said. “But let’s just say the outcome might be a little dramatic.”
For those who are feeling lucky, tonight’s Powerball drawing will be held at 10:59 Eastern time, and tickets cost $2. The odds of winning the jackpot are approximately one in 292 million.