Orlando Florida’s Richard Lustig is the world’s only seven-time lottery game grand prize winner and the author of Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery. In show business since the late-‘60s and early ‘70s when he toured the country playing rock ‘n’ roll, he also worked as a DJ and radio jockey before launching his own talent agency.
When the lottery came to Florida in the late-80s, Lustig started buying tickets regularly. “Like everybody else, I was hoping to get rich,” he says. “Unfortunately, I was losing 99 percent of the time, but I kept at it until one day I thought OK, wait a minute, this is throwing money down the drain. I figured there must be something I could do to give myself a better chance. So I started writing a list of things that might work. If an idea didn’t work I threw it out the window, but some ideas worked and I started seeing a little improvement on win versus lose. I kept coming up with ideas and winning more and losing less. There was no grand prize yet, but I’d win $500, $5,000 or whatever it may be.”
Two weeks after his son was born, Lustig hit his first $10,000 jackpot on a scratch ticket game. “I thought Wow, I won the lottery! I’m a lucky guy,” he says. “Everybody else thought I was lucky too. We had health insurance but that doesn’t cover all the bills when you have a baby. We were also living in an older house at the time and the roof leaked when it rained. So with that first grand prize we paid off our hospital bill and got our roof repaired.”
And then Lustig won his second grand prize, and then his third. It wasn’t until his fourth win that he began wondering if perhaps his strategies were paying off. “There was definitely something involved besides luck,” he says. “A light finally lit up in my head that said ‘Richard you don’t know anybody who’s one even once and here you’ve won four. You’ve got yourself a method here and this is really working.’ People were still thinking I was just lucky but I knew there was more to it. On my fifth win all of a sudden people were saying, ‘OK, no way somebody can be that lucky to win five lottery grand prizes.’
When Lustig claimed his sixth win the question on everybody’s mind was “What’s your secret?” and by the time he claimed his seventh grand prize the media was clamoring to find out who the world’s first and only seven-time lottery grand prize winner was and, more importantly, how he kept on winning. He has appeared on “Good Morning America,” “The Rachael Ray Show,” “Today Show,” MSNBC, Fox and numerous other TV and radio shows and in print media, and his picture is posted in the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.
“Winning the lottery has improved my lifestyle, given me notoriety and the opportunity to do things I would never have dreamed of,” Lustig exclaims. “I’ve won seven lottery game grand prizes—including two second drawings and four ball games—and people out there who bought my book and followed my method have won more than I have.’ Lustig’s largest jackpot was $842,000 on Mega Money but his overall winnings total in the millions of dollars. “My last three grand prizes alone were $1 million, but I’ve actually been to the lottery offices an amazing 23 times to collect winnings that are too large for local merchants to cash out.” In Florida, only winnings of $600 or less can be collected at merchant locations.
Opportunist: When did you first start sharing your strategies with people?
Richard Lustig: I had done some TV interviews and become sort of a local celebrity. People would see me and say, ‘Hey, aren’t you the guy who won the lottery a bunch of times? What’s your secret? So I would tell them, ‘OK, here are some things I do and here are some things I don’t do.’ But after a while I thought Hey, wait a minute. It’s taken me years of trial and error—with lots of losing—to get this fine-tuned so why should I give it away? One day I sat down and typed it up into a report and printed out four or five copies to carry around with me. When people would ask me for advice I’d pull out my report and say ‘Here’s my method. If you’d like it I will sell it to you for $30.’
Opportunist:Did people buy it?
Richard Lustig: I really expected people to say, ‘What? Are you crazy?’ But they would say, ‘No problem man,’ and whip out $30. My reports kept selling and selling to the point where I couldn’t print them up fast enough. Then people started asking if I had a website, so I put one up and the next thing I know they’re contacting me online and buying my report and I’m having 100 to 200 printed up at a time.
When I won No. 6 things really started to get crazy. [Laughs] I walked into the store one morning and there was a line of people waiting—but not to buy groceries. The clerks had told them what time I usually came in and they were waiting for me, with $30 in their hand to buy my secret.
My son, Nick, who was still a teenager at the time, sees this going on. ‘You know Dad,’ he says, ‘You’re missing the boat here. You need to write a book.’ I told him he was crazy because I was no author. But he wouldn’t let up. Day after day he hounded me. So one day I went into my office, closed the door and started writing—basically to get him off my back. [Laughs] Soon I realized I could explain everything better than I did in my original report. Plus, I had been adding stuff to my method all along. My wife’s sister is an award-winning graphic artist and she did my book cover and the interior design, and I worked out a deal with a publishing company. On the eve of going to press I called the publisher, excited to find out if everything was OK and I was told my book would go to the printer ‘tomorrow.’
And then that night I won jackpot No. 7.
Opportunist: No joke?
Richard Lustig: Sure did. When I called the publisher the next morning and asked them to hold off they asked if I had changed my mind and I said, ‘You won’t believe this. I won another one last night.’ [Laughs] So on the front of the book where it said ‘Written by six time grand prize lottery winner’ we decided to put an ‘x’ over the six and write the number seven above it. That is when all the major stuff started happening.
Opportunist: Like what?
Richard Lustig: When I went to collect my seventh win this guy says, ‘Richard you’re back again? How much did you win this time?’ So I filled out all the standard paperwork and was getting checked out when they said, ‘Let’s get your picture.’ I hold up this sign that says ‘Fantasy 5’ and they take my picture and put it up on the website. Two or three days go by and I’m back to my normal routine and buying more tickets and all of a sudden one of the store clerks says, ‘Hey Richard, I saw you on TV this morning on the news. They said you were a seven-time lottery winner.’ He couldn’t tell me what station, so I go home and I’m looking on the Internet for the story. I call the station and this guy answers the phone and I tell him ‘Your station ran a story about the guy who won the lottery seven times. Well I’m the guy’ and he says ‘You’re Richard Lustig? Hold on a second.’ The he hands the phone to another guy who says he would like to do an interview with me. We agreed on a time and later that night the segment aired. Then the very next day I start getting calls from other networks wanting to do interviews with me.
Then my website starts buzzing with orders first from Central Florida, then Miami, Tallahassee, Jacksonville and Tampa and I’m wondering how the rest of the state found out. Turns out each network’s affiliate in other Florida cities was also running my story. Then I started getting sales from all over the country: California, Illinois, New York and soon everybody in the country knows who I am and I’m getting tons of orders. I’m finally just getting the book out and the next thing I get a call from The Learning Channel inviting me to be on their show ‘Lottery Changed My Life.’ They flew a team out here and spent about three days with us and within about two months the episode airs and my book sales go through the ceiling and networks all over the country call me the lottery expert. To this day, I get calls about any kind of lottery story—good or bad—where they want an expert’s opinion.
Opportunist: Without giving away all your secrets, can you share a few tips with our readers?
Richard Lustig: There are three I usually give away. First—and I preach this all the time—it’s extremely important to set a budget. Do not spend the grocery money or the rent. Don’t worry about how much Joe Blow or Richard Lustig is spending. Figure out what you can spend and stay within your budget. Common sense will tell you a person who buys 100 tickets will have a better chance than somebody who buys 10, but don’t buy more than you can afford.
There are two major types of lottery games: ball games like Lotto, Powerball and MegaMillions and the scratch ticket games. When it comes to ball games, people are lazy. They tend to go for computer generated numbers called quick picks. If you play this way you’re getting a different set of numbers each time and the odds of winning are always going to be the worst they can possibly be. Powerball odds are one in 175 million. That’s insane. When I tell people not to buy quick picks they say, ‘What do you mean don’t buy quick picks? I always buy quick picks.’ I’m not saying you will win a grand prize if you listen to everything I say. Nobody can say that, and if I did I’d be lying and people would be foolish to believe me. What I’m saying is if people follow what I tell them they will increase their chances. I believe it’s best to pick your own numbers.
There is also a way to play scratch tickets to increase your chances of winning. I see people go up to the counter and say, ‘Hmm … let me see … oh, you’ve got Bingo. I love Bingo. Let me have a few’ or ‘Ooh I like the colors of that ticket. Let me have a couple.’ They may as well put on a blindfold and try to hit a target. My method works with any size budget—it always comes back to the budget and keeping it within what you can afford. My method works whether you’re spending $10 or $10,000. Let’s say you want to play $100. Scratch tickets come in denominations of $1, $2, $3, $5, $10, $20 and $25. Take your money and divide it by 10. So, with $100 you would buy 10 $10 tickets. But don’t buy from different games. Buy all 10 tickets in a row from the same game. Don’t buy five or 8; buy at least 10. You can buy 20, 30, 40 or 100 but you must buy at least 10 in a row from same game. Do that almost every single time and you’re going to find a winning ticket—and sometimes two or even three or four.
An interesting thing happened on my appearance on ‘The Rachael Ray Show.’ They called to say they wanted to put my method to the test and give all 125 audience members a ticket to scratch off. I told them I didn’t have a problem with that as long as they used the method I described. They agreed and I predicted they would have at least 12 winners. I knew they didn’t believe me, but that’s OK because I know my method works. So the next morning when Rachael gets to that part of the show she says, ‘Richard, we decided to put your method to the test right here on the show. We want you folks to scratch your ticket. Everybody who has a winning ticket please stand up.’ They had placed a ticket in front of me and Rachael. When everybody with a winning ticket stood up, I stood up too. She looks at me like You’re kidding me? They had 17 winners in all.
Just three weeks ago I was the headline speaker at a convention with 700 people in the audience. When I get there for the sound check, the guy I’d dealt with said, ‘By the way, we bought everybody here a scratch ticket.’ I asked if he did it like I instructed in the book and he said they actually went to several places before they could buy all 700 in a row. So I said, ‘OK, let’s do it … you’ll have at least 70 winners tonight.’ During my presentation everybody scratched their ticket and, just like on ‘Rachael Ray,’ the winners stood up. There were 110 winners. So, you know, it works. It’s real.
Opportunist: And other people have actually won more using your method than you have?
Richard Lustig: Yes, absolutely. A young couple in Tampa followed my method and hit a $2 million grand prize. The best story, though, is a couple in Iowa. The wife saw me on TV—I can’t recall which appearance—and she goes running into the room where her husband is watching a game and says, ‘Hey honey, I just saw this guy on TV who has written a book that tells you how to win the lottery.’ Her husband blows it off with something like, ‘Yeah, yeah. Don’t bother me. I’m watching my game.’ Well, they followed my method and within three or four months they won a $9 million grand prize.
There was a truck driver in Arizona who had only won $86 playing the lottery. Within a year of buying my book he won $20,000. There was another guy from somewhere in the Northeast whose wife bought him my book for his 50th birthday. It sat on his coffee table for weeks or months, while he kept playing the lottery the way he always had and kept losing. Finally, he thought my wife bought me this book; I should at least read the darned thing. So he read my book and started following my method and won a quarter million dollars.
There may be more people out there who have won but have shied away from publicity. In certain states you can stay anonymous. To someone like me, the more flashing bulbs and TV cameras the better—I love it. [Laughs] But I personally believe people should be allowed to remain anonymous. If a regular guy with a wife, two kids and a couple of dogs suddenly wins a giant jackpot and gets thrown into a room with all these TV cameras and flashes going off and mics stuck in his face, it’s going to freak the poor guy out.
Opportunist: How can someone who wins a large sum of money avoid the so-called ‘lottery curse?’
Richard Lustig: Most of the time the lottery curse is people doing something to themselves. What happens is somebody wins a big amount of money who has never had that kind of money before. So they go crazy with it, spend money like it’s water, buy fancy cars and throw big parties and this and that. Then two or three years later they’re filing for bankruptcy.
If you win a large enough sum of money, the government will take 28 percent off the top. What people need to watch out for is their winnings can put them in a higher tax bracket. If you combine what you won with whatever you earned at your job, you could find yourself in the 40 percent tax bracket. Come April 15 when you file your taxes and Uncle Sam says you owe him another 12 percent on that lottery money and you spent it all what happens? I tell people if they’re fortunate enough to win a large sum they should hire a lawyer, an accountant and a financial advisor—maybe all three—and make sure whomever they hire has a longstanding good reputation because there are shady people out there.
The first thing you should do is pay off your debts. Don’t even go out and have dinner on that money yet. Pay off your car loan, mortgage or whatever else you owe. Next, take some of that money and put it away and make believe you didn’t win it. You didn’t have it yesterday so it’s not going to hurt you to put it away for retirement. And remember: no matter how much you’ve won it may not last forever. So only after you’ve put some away should you go out and buy talking cars and whatever else you want.
I drive a Jaguar. I ride a Harley. I bought my son his first car, a Beamer. My family and I have been on a dozen or so cruises. People say money doesn’t buy happiness, but I’ll tell you I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor and I like rich a whole lot more. [Laughs] Money can bring happiness if you go about enjoying that money the right way. If you’re foolish and spend it all and two years later you’re flat broke it ended up being a curse. If you’re smart you’ll pay off all your debts and put money away.
Leslie Stone is an award-winning writer, editor with more than two decades of experience covering business, finance, real estate and lifestyle issues for newspapers, magazines and online publications. Originally from Virginia, she currently resides in Florida. Follow Leslie on Twitter: @lescstone.
Richard Lustig’s Winning Lottery Method - http://winninglotterymethod.com/