Powerball Jackpot Winners Don't Always Come Out On Top

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B. Raymond Buxton now holds the record for the largest Powerball Jackpot in California history, but there's still no guarantee that he has an easy road ahead of him. If he has any doubts, he should just ask Jack Whittaker.

Buxton bought the $425 million dollar winning ticket as an afterthought while making a lunch run at a combination Chevron station and Subway sandwich restaurant in Milpitas, California. Like most Powerball mavens, Buxton had the habit of playing the same numbers each week. However, it was his second Powerball ticket, a last minute 2 dollar Quick Pick, that struck gold.

The winning numbers for that Powerball jackpot - 1, 17, 35, 49, 54, and Powerball number 34 - were announced on the night of February 19. Buxton recalls sitting in front of his computer, mesmerized, checking and rechecking the numbers against his own, in something akin to a state of shock.

Describing that night, Buxton said "Once the initial shock wore off, I couldn't sleep for days."

B. Raymond Buxton may have waited until April Fool's Day to claim his winnings from the California Lottery Commission, but his reason for the delay was anything but foolish. Once he realized that the ticket in his possession was in fact the jackpot winner, Buxton immediately turned to the help of Singer and Associates, a San Francisco law firm that specializes in developing asset management strategies.

The newly crowned King of the California Powerball intends on staying as far out of the limelight as possible, choosing to avoid any direct contact with the media, and not releasing his age, profession, or other personal details. Singer, his lawyer, has added that Buxton intends on devoting a large portion of his new life to building a charitable foundation dedicated to pediatric health, education, and eliminating child hunger.

The decision to seek counsel right from the start may make all the difference in the world for B. Raymond Buxton. While the odds of winning a Powerball jackpot is approximately 1 in 175 million (by comparison, the odds of getting struck by lightning at least once in your lifetime is 1 in 5,000) it is estimated that almost 90 percent of all lottery winners end up going broke in 5 years or less.

In 2002, Jack Whittaker held the record for the single largest Powerball win with a Jackpot of $314,900,000. By 2007, Whittaker was not only broke, but owed a large amount of money to several Atlantic City casino syndicates. It should be noted that Whittaker was already a millionaire at the time of his Powerball win.

Like Buxton, Whittaker set up a charitable organization. The Jack Whittaker Foundation was set up with an initial $14 million dollar investment - less than 5% of Whittaker's jackpot earnings. Whittaker, who overcame a poor upbringing to make millions in his West Virginia plumbing business, had every reason to believe that nothing but good would come of his new-found riches.

Instead, within the space of a few years he would go on to wish he'd never bought that ticket.

Like Whittaker, Buxton has elected to take a single lump sum payment, In Buxton's case, the prize amounts to $242.2 million. He's been playing the lottery for over 20 years.

"It's amazing how a little slip of paper can change your life," said the Powerball winner, while claiming his Jackpot at the California Lottery headquarters today.