Evelyn Adams (lottery winner)
|Known for||Lottery winner|
Evelyn Marie Adams is an American lottery winner. She won the New Jersey Lottery twice, in 1985 and 1986, for over $5.4 million combined (both prizes were paid in the form of mandatory annuities). However, she was a compulsive gambler, and lost large sums at Atlantic City casinos and through a string of unsuccessful business deals.
A clerk in a convenience store who was a resident of Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, Adams increased her weekly lottery spending from $25 to $100 per week over several years before she won two different multi-million jackpots in the span of four months – one for $3.9 million in October 1985 and the other for $1.4 million in February 1986, making her the first person in the history of the New Jersey Lottery to win multiple million-dollar jackpot prizes. Of the 22 states at the time with lotteries, none had had a two-time winner. The odds of winning the first jackpot were 1 in 3.2 million; the second, 1 in 5.2 million. Both jackpots were paid out on an annuity basis, with a total of $218,000 paid annually after 20% was deducted for taxes.
After winning her first prize, Adams paid off bills and set up a fund to pay college tuition for her daughter, in addition to buying a new car and giving gifts to those close to her. Having increased her weekly ticket purchases from $25 per week to $100 weekly after winning her first grand prize, Adams said that "I'm going to quit playing" having won twice. She had a sense that she "couldn't go anywhere without being recognized" and felt that she had lost her privacy. While some friends and family were happy for her and her new-found wealth, others resented it. She deferred plans to use her winnings to study music and eventually open a music store, instead buying – and later selling – the convenience store where she had worked. After giving away substantial portions of her winnings, Adams tried to choose more carefully among the many requests she had received, though even when the money was given to acquaintances in the form of a loan many recipients didn't feel any obligation to repay their debt.
- Ginsburg, Elisabeth. "Lottery Winners Years Later", The New York Times, January 31, 1993. Accessed February 19, 2018. "Like most lottery winners, Ms. Adams of Point Pleasant Beach endured the publicity barrage that goes with winning a big jackpot. Unlike her fellow Pick-6 winners, Ms. Adams was thrown into the spotlight twice, as the first two-time winner of the New Jersey Lottery. After winning $3.9 million in October 1985 and $1.4 million four months later, Ms. Adams found that she no longer had the privilege of privacy."
- via United Press International. "Chances Are Two-Time Winner Loves Lottery Game", Los Angeles Times, February 14, 1986. Accessed February 19, 2018. "Sam Valenza, publisher of Lottery Players magazine in Cherry Hill, N.J., said there has been no previous report of a two-time million-dollar jackpot winner in a U.S. lottery. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia offer the games."
- McFadden, Robert D. "Odds-Defying Jersey Woman Hits Lottery Jackpot 2d Time", The New York Times, February 14, 1986. Accessed February 19, 2018.
- Jacobs, Deborah L. "Winning The Lottery Isn't Always A Happy Ending", Forbes, November 28, 2012. Accessed February 19, 2018. "Take the case of Evelyn Adams. She beat the odds by winning the New Jersey lottery twice – in 1985 and 1986, collecting a total of $5.4 million. But she totally blew through the money with her own spending, bad investments, gifts to family and gambling. Today she lives in a trailer."
- Elkins, Kathleen. "Here's what 11 regular people did with their money when they won the lottery", Business Insider, January 9, 2016. Accessed February 19, 2018. "Evelyn Adams took her winnings to Atlantic City.... Feeling lucky, and rightfully so, she took her extra cash to the tables and slot machines in Atlantic City. She pushed her luck. Today, she's penniless and residing in a trailer park after gambling it all away."
- Transcript for January 9, 2016 8:00am-9:00am, Good Morning America Weekend Edition. Accessed February 19, 2018.