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Brad Duke and the lottery

Note: In a recent story about the bad luck that winning the lottery brought some winners, we talked about an exception to the rule, one Brad Duke. Today we take a little closer look at Brad Duke, and see how he has been doing since he won the lottery.

With the PowerBall Lottery reaching above the Billion Dollar mark, there seems to be a great deal of interest in this form of gambling, by an increasingly large number of players. The odds of an individual winning this grand prize have been calculated to be in the range of 1 in 292 million — very slim indeed.

On the other hand, an individual winner would have a very good chance, 6 out of 10, to end up taking bankruptcy within five years. Yet, recently, three individuals, in three states did win the power ball lottery and will split winnings of $1.5 Billion. It goes without saying that every player feels that he/she would be the exception to that statistic of winners going broke, and feels that his/her life would be permanently changed (for the good) if he/she should win. Good Luck!

Anyway, in the midst of the power-ball mania, this seems to be a good time to look again at Brad Duke, a fellow who appears to have the lottery and its consequences figured out, and see how he’s doing today, after winning his “measly” $220 Million jackpot in 2005 — a paltry sum compared to present day jackpots, but never-the-less, enough to change his life forever.

To review Brad Duke’s story: Duke was intrigued by the lottery, from the time he was a small boy, long before he was old enough to participate. Over the years he was a regular player, but never invested large sums. He had devised a system, of sorts, which he never has divulged, for picking his numbers. His aim was always to shoot for the modest prizes — $500, or $1,000, never thinking much about the big purses.

In 2005 Duke was a 33-year old bachelor, a mid-level manager and bicycling instructor in five Idaho gym locations. He earned $60,000 a year and worked 60 hours a week. His ultimate goal was to someday accumulate $1 million in assets. In the meantime, he was pleased with his progress on his career path and his life in general. He certainly did not need great wealth to be happy.

On his way to a bicycle race (his passion) on May 28, 2005, Duke stopped at a convenience store for a few protein bars and water — and he picked up a few lottery tickets, just for the fun of it. He enjoyed his day of racing, but it was a few days later before he bothered to check out his power ball tickets for a possible winner. During that time he fantasized a bit over what he would do if he won $10,000 or $20,000. (Because cycling was so important to him, he had decided that he would buy a really high end mountain bike if he won.)

Duke was pleased, but not overly surprised — he was always basically optimistic — when his winning ticket turned out to represent a prize of some $220 Million. The girls at the quick shop, where he checked his ticket were far more excited to see that winning ticket than was he.

For some days after he had won, Duke kept the news to himself (with just a phone call to his dad). He pondered his good fortune, and made plans for his future. If he was going to do something great he could not go off half-cocked on a spending spree. He was determined not to waste the gift that had been handed him. He knew he needed to keep his feet on the ground. He tried to keep his life just the same. He kept his job. He kept his three year old car. He kept his modest house. He needed time to formulate his plans, and he needed time to grow his fortune.

He decided that he would really like to make a difference to the world with his philanthropy, and to do this he really needed more than the $74 million that he would end up with after paying his taxes on the $220 million. He needed a billion dollars, and to grow his $74 million into that kind of money he needed help. He needed a team of people around him that knew more than he did — about a lot of things. He needed that team to be people he could trust.

Over the next weeks Duke hired a personal assistant, a corporate tax attorney, and a banker, the core of his team of about 20 people — accountants, a publicist, sales people and investment consultants. Said Duke, “You really have to define what is important to you. Then develop a plan around that. Get good people to help you do what you’re not good at doing.” Most of the people of this original team were still with Duke 10 years later. One thing that Duke insisted upon was that his team members attend his 6:30 am cycling class at the gym — both to build comradery among the members, and to improve their fitness level for years to come.

Initially, the bulk of Duke’s $65 million went into a mixture of conservative investments, while he concentrated on managing, then later, promoting bicycle races. He expanded the fitness consulting business that he had begun before that fateful day.

Duke did keep his job — for about 2 Ѕ years, until the distractions became more than he could handle — people were constantly coming to the gym, bringing him new ideas for new products, new projects that just needed a bit of money to really take off. He lost some of his former friends when he refused their pleas and ideas on how he should be spending his money.

His used car, he finally gave to a nephew, and replaced it with a car that was two years older — because it fit his bicycle carrier better. He stayed in his modest home, even though people began camping out on his lawn, hoping to be able to talk with him about their ideas.

He did take his close bicycling buddies on some great trips in the first couple of years, and was able to give family members annual cash gifts in the $12,000 range, but overall, the money he spent on himself and his family was less than $1 Million, while the money he was able to give to charities that he thought were worthwhile (mostly in Idaho) exceeded $2 Million.

Maybe Duke’s largest expenditure for himself has been bicycles. He continues to buy high end mountain bikes for himself (10 plus), and has given bikes to just about every member of his extended family. He still rides his mountain bikes regularly, if not competitively. A bad spill a couple of years ago left him with broken bones. It kept him from riding for an entire season — very difficult for him to take, and he feels more than ever that bikes are a part of his way of life. (Balancing time between the Board Room and the mountain bike trails has been a chore for Duke. He enjoys both and he is constantly learning from both. Both activities take great concentration. (Maybe that is why there are not a lot of multi-millionaire bikers.)

At first Duke attempted to pick out the people who should get his gifts by himself, but he soon found that he was not good at picking the people and causes by himself, after getting burned by people and causes that sounded good, but turned out to be bogus or less than desirable. He was able to solve this problem by setting up the Duke Family Foundation and appointing some of his family members to screen the appeals, and merely consult him on their choices.

In spite of the pitfalls of suddenly having so much money, Duke is pleased with the life his fortune has taken him. He has strong ties with his family, and says that his long-time relationships have never been stronger. He still has his same girl-friend, but he is very very strict about keeping her privacy, and out of the spotlight. Duke has never lost sight of his goal — to grow his fortune to $1 Billion or more in his lifetime, which he feels should keep his charitable work going for years to come.

Duke spends much of his time and energy these days on developing his two main companies. Synergy Fitness Group is his health club consulting company, which he started even before he hit the lottery. The Duke Speed Academy helps kids become better athletes.

By 2016 (most current update) Duke and his team had grown his $65 million prize to over $100 million. This, despite periodic setbacks in the housing market and the stock market, and Brad Duke seems to be right on track to achieve his billion dollar goal, and more. We wish him well, and hope that future lottery winners look to him as their inspiration and do the same.

In an interview Duke said that his real goal in life is to enjoy life and follow the philosophy, “Life is what you make of it.” He didn’t need to win the lottery to live like that.

(Oh, yes, one thing more. Does Duke still play the lottery game? He was asked recently if he had bought a ticket for the $1.5 Billion Power Ball Lottery. His answer, “Of course. How could I not?” — Why not indeed!)

Brad Duke and the lottery Note: In a recent story about the bad luck that winning the lottery brought some winners, we talked about an exception to the rule, one Brad Duke. Today we take a little

How $220M Changed A Lottery Winner

How $220M Changed A Lottery Winner

NPR’s Rachel Martin spoke with Brad Duke a few years ago about his $220 million lottery win in 2005 (you can read and listen to that interview below). We called him back this week because numbers for the biggest Powerball jackpot were drawn Saturday.

Lottery Winner Stays Grounded After $220 Million Jackpot

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Lottery Winner Stays Grounded After $220 Million Jackpot

Lottery winner Brad Duke says he’s always been fascinated by the lottery, and even thought he won once before, when he was 18. Davies Moore/ hide caption

Lottery winner Brad Duke says he’s always been fascinated by the lottery, and even thought he won once before, when he was 18.

Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

In 2005, Brad Duke of Star, Idaho, hit a huge jackpot: $220 million in the Powerball lottery. It took a couple days, even a couple of weeks, for the magnitude of his win to hit. He didn’t tell anyone, and went about his daily routines while he tried to figure out what he wanted to do next.

As a regular lottery player, Duke had let himself fantasize about what it might be like to win thousands of dollars someday. As a cyclist, he’d always daydreamed about owning a high-end road bike and a high-end mountain bike, which his actual windfall would certainly cover.

I took the ticket in, let the gals behind the counter run the ticket through, and the machine made a bunch of weird noises and they started jumping up and down and jumping in circles. And I was trying to actually pluck the ticket out of their hand because my first instinct was just to kind of get out of there.

But Duke didn’t go on a spending spree. “I stayed in my house, I drove a used car for up to three years afterwards,” he tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “The more I started to fantasize about what I could do with the money, the more I felt like I should try to keep my feet on the ground and change as little as I could.”

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BRAD DUKE: I had the ticket in a visor of a rental car at the time, and I had to stop and get fuel. I thought it would be a good time to check the tickets. So, I took the ticket in, let the gals behind the counter run the ticket through. And she made a bunch of weird noises and they started jumping up and down and jumping in circles, and I was trying to actually pluck the ticket out of their hand ’cause my first instinct was just to kind of get out of there.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is Brad Duke, an exercise instructor from Star, Idaho. Duke won a $220 million Powerball jackpot in 2005. And as you might expect, life changed. Winning the lottery forced him to reevaluate his priorities, his expectations, even some relationships. We began by talking about the day he went out and bought that particular lottery ticket. Brad Duke is our Sunday Conversation.

DUKE: I thought maybe that I had won 10 or 20 thousand, but I didn’t confirm it. I went on with my day just daydreaming of what I could do with five, 10, 15, 20 thousand, whatever it may be.

MARTIN: So, that’s day one and it’s confirmed that you win. What happens a couple of days later when you wake up and the reality of this really starts to sink in?

DUKE: You know, it didn’t sink in for a couple of days, you know, probably a couple of weeks. I knew the first thing that I wanted to do was decide what I wanted to do with the money and where I wanted to go with this whole thing. So I didn’t tell anybody. I kept working. I continued with my daily routines. I made one phone call to my father and I told him – it’s a funny story – I said, dad, sit down and prepare for some life-changing news. And he says, oh, you’re getting married. And I said nope. And he goes, well, then you’re the guy that won the lottery.

DUKE: Yeah, true story, absolutely true story. And I said yeah. And he goes far out. I’ll be right down. So, you know, he came down and over the course of that couple of weeks, we kind of talked about what to do. I kept it under wraps for close to four or five weeks.

MARTIN: Wow. Wasn’t that hard? I mean, didn’t you kind of just want to tell everyone?

DUKE: Oh, it was fun. Oh, it was fun. It was fun fantasizing about being the guy and then realizing that you’re the guy and you have the reality-fantasy combination starting to come together. Turned out it was really important that I did do that because that did give me time to put together a team of people around me that were going to help me do what I wanted to do.

MARTIN: Yeah. Who were they? What did you need them to do for you?

DUKE: Well, in the process of setting goals, I wanted to grow the wealth, so obviously needed to have a really good tax attorney and a corporate business attorney. I knew that we were going to do some publicity to try and generate more opportunity, so I needed a publicist and a banker. And I still have that same team around me today.

MARTIN: So, you said you had done some daydreaming. You let yourself kind of fantasize about what it would be like to win $10,000, 20,000. What did those dreams look like and then how did they change when all of the sudden you were handed a check for millions of dollars?

DUKE: The thing that I was thinking about was kind of bike that I can buy. I’m into cycling, and one of my fantasies is just getting a really high-end road bike and a really high-end mountain bike.

MARTIN: Yeah, $220 million would do it.

DUKE: Yeah. And that really was the first thing that I did. I didn’t spend money. I stayed in my house, drove a used car for, you know, up to three years afterwards. The more I started to fantasize about what I could do with the money, the more I felt like I should try and keep my feet on the ground and change as little as I could.

MARTIN: Why did that occur to you?

DUKE: You know, I’m not sure. I’m a goal-oriented person. One of the goals that I had put out there for myself after this was try and make the most of this opportunity and not squander the gift that’s been given to me and try to grow it something I can leave behind, leave a legacy behind. And once I started to believe in that goal that I set for myself, kind of dictated some of my decisions.

MARTIN: So, did you quit your job?

DUKE: I did not. I continued on as long as I could. It was crazy. Everybody had the greatest ideas since sliced bread. I got proposals for time machines, flying cars, and eventually I had to quit ’cause it was disrupting the business. I continued to stay on and teach my morning spin class for about two and a half years after.

MARTIN: Did anyone in your life start treating you differently?

DUKE: Oh sure, yeah. Yeah, there’s definitely a preconceived notion, whether it’s good or bad, and that does change your surroundings. And, you know, for sure, when something like that amplifies everything around you.

MARTIN: Did you have to end any relationships because how your life changed with this money?

DUKE: You know, I’m pretty fortunate that way. I never had a serious casualty like that where I’ve had to end a relationship. I had some dating trouble, but that was expected.

MARTIN: You think it would be a boom for your dating life?

DUKE: Yeah, too much of a boom. But as far as loved ones and people that were in my life at the time, I have been pretty fortunate.

MARTIN: There has been, as you probably know, some terribly tragic stories over the years of lottery winners who kind of detached from reality and lose their friends, go bankrupt. How did you avoid all of that and what is your advice for future lottery winners?

DUKE: I knew the statistics. I knew six out of 10 people that won 10 million or less were bankrupt in less than five years. You know, so I knew the statistic and that’s one thing that I really wanted to not become. You know, the biggest piece of advice I can give somebody that gets put into that, you really have to define what’s important to you, and develop a plan around it and then get people to help you do what you’re not so good at doing as part of that plan.

MARTIN: You still have that mountain bike that you bought?

DUKE: Yeah. I have that mountain bike plus about another 10.

MARTIN: Good for you. Brad Duke. He won $220 million in a Powerball lottery eight years ago. Brad, thanks so much for talking with us.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: You’re listening to NPR News.

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NPR’s Rachel Martin spoke with Brad Duke a few years ago about his $220 million lottery win in 2005. We called him back this week because numbers for the biggest Powerball jackpot were drawn Saturday. ]]>