Mega Millionaire ‘Bunky’ Bartlett says life of a lottery winner isn’t easy

Bartlett reflects on mistakes (and successes) since winning $32.6 million

By Mary Carole McCauley and Justin Fenton (The Baltimore Sun, 4/3/2012)

Bunky Bartlett at Mystickal Voyage in Nottingham, shortly after he won a Mega Millions jackpot in 2007. Bartlett invested in the Wiccan bookstore, but it went out of business. (Christopher T. Assaf, Baltimore Sun)

A Tarot card might have foretold that Ellwood “Bunky” Bartlett would win $32.6 million in the 2007 lottery.

Unfortunately, the spirit world provided no omens that might have helped the 45-year-old practicing Wiccan better manage his good fortune.

This week, as much of the East Coast is waiting for the winners of the record $656 million jackpot to step forward, Bartlett of Westminster agreed to talk about the things that have gone wrong — and right — in his life during the past three years.

To help Maryland’s newest mega-millionaires avoid repeating his mistakes, Bartlett offered the following tips:

Remain anonymous. Take the winnings in the form of an annuity parceled out over 26 years, instead of in a lump sum. Curb impulse spending by stashing the winnings in a trust fund that requires several signatures to authorize major purchases.

“Otherwise, everybody and their brother will find you and try to get money from you,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett was by all accounts a soft touch who gave away millions to friends and strangers. He hired his buddies, bought them first-class plane tickets, officiated at their weddings and helped them buy homes — only to watch helplessly as long-standing relationships disintegrated.

The former accountant readily admits to making bad business decisions. Plans that were widely publicized at the time, such as expanding the New Age bookshop near White Marsh that he considered his “spiritual home,” failed spectacularly.

Continue reading “Mega Millionaire ‘Bunky’ Bartlett says life of a lottery winner isn’t easy” at The Baltimore Sun.

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