A Georgia man who won $3 million on a lottery scratch-off ticket last year has given people everywhere an important lesson in how not to manage your finances after coming into a windfall of cash. Georgia man invested his winnings in running a crystal meth operation, and now he’s facing decades behind bars.
According to The New York Times, 45-year-old Ronnie Music Jr. has been indicted as part of a larger operation involving circulation of more than $1 million worth of methamphetamine and weapons. He pleaded guilty to a federal court last week and could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Music told state authorities when he won last year that he and his wife were going to save up their lottery payments. “I buy tickets every once in a while,” he said after winning big in February 2015. “I couldn’t believe it, and I still don’t believe it yet.”
Clearly, there were other plans in design.
After winning a large lottery, people typically get to choose between receiving an annuity settlement that doles out lottery payments over an extended period of time — usually either over 25 years or until death for very large jackpots — or they can get a lump sum that offers cash up-front. When people get tired of waiting for those annuity payments, they sometimes sell their lottery annuities midway through in order to get more cash at once. In any case, it’s clear that Music wasn’t saving up for anything besides drugs.
Of all the different ways to invest your money, a drug ring probably wasn’t the smartest choice. You could pay off your debt, for example. The average American household owes $15,355 on credit cards and $129,579 in overall debts. Even if you decided to splurge with your winnings, you could invest in a new car for a fraction of your winnings. The average price of a light vehicle in January 2015 being $33,933.
Literally anything would be better than investing in a meth operation. Even though the Times called Music’s drug ring business “thriving,” they also reported that he could have made more money by taking the lump sum of his lottery payment and investing it in the stock market.
Instead, says U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver, “As a result of his unsound investment strategy, Music now faces decades in a federal prison.”