Childhood sweethearts Richard and Mary Morrison had plans for their Mega Millions jackpot win from the December 22nd draw in 2009. The lucky couple were the sole winners of the $165 million prize and were already thinking of opening a restaurant, helping the poor and celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary before they even received their winning cheque.
Winning a lot of money can make you think like that.
Mary was a self-employed massage therapist and Richard a psychotherapist when their luck suddenly changed the week before Christmas with the large win on the New York Mega Millions Lottery. Mary was the one who bought the tickets – she purchased five on a whim while she was out doing some last minute Christmas shopping. She used her children’s birthdates for the first ticket and selected quickpicks for the remaining four.
Like many people who purchase lottery tickets for the Mega Millions draws, Mary opted for the lump sum payment if she won, which meant that she and Richard netted around $67 million from their Mega Millions jackpot after taxes. Their immediate plans included a lavish party for their wedding anniversary and the possibility of setting up a non-profit business and a foundation that would help others less fortunate.
Richard and Mary Morrison had a long history of helping others in need and, at the time of the win, it had also landed them in trouble. Authorities in New York’s Suffolk County were looking to reclaim around $1 million from the couple for the overbilling of homeless shelters they once ran. With money to spare, the couple are contesting the County claim, saying that the money was part of the non-profit corporation that ran the shelters. It wasn’t down to them.
The Mega Millions winners from New York had no idea that the County were trying to recoup money from them until they won the lottery and found themselves in the news, which led some observers to raise questions about the legality of the claim.
There have been accusations that the couple bought big screen TVs and other luxury items with public money. But there have also been counter arguments that the County are simply trying to get money they lost on a bad deal.
Certainly the couple have enough money to protect themselves, and they are looking to do something good with it rather than waste the dollars away.
The Foundation was formed in 2010 from the proceeds of the lottery win and provides philanthropic help to needy families across New York State. The couple believe that their previous struggles with financial stress have now been rewarded because of their willingness to help the needy, no matter what their own circumstances were.
They also opened a restaurant, the Graceful Rose in Port Jefferson, and have hired well-known chef Massimo Fedozzi and it’s been getting rave reviews from newspapers like the New York Times. The restaurant is named after Richard’s mother and is a popular choice for families and couples.
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