Michigan Man Continues Using Food Stamps After Winning $2M Lottery

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

Michigan man Leroy Fick won the state lottery last year, but he's still collecting food stamps - and it's perfectly legal for him to do so.

Fick, 59, of Auburn, won $2 million in "Make Me Rich!" a TV show produced by the Michigan lottery. He's unapologetic about his use of food stamps. "If you're going to try to make me feel bad, you're not going to do it," Fick told a local Michigan TV station.

The Department of Human Services has determined Fick is still eligible to collect food stamps, according to Fick's attorney. Because food-stamp eligibility is based on gross income, that means liquid assets like lottery winnings don't count. As long as Fick is earning little enough in gross income to qualify for food stamps, he can get them - even now that he is a millionaire.

Fick disclosed his lottery winnings to the Department of Human Services, his attorney said, and was told he could keep using his food stamps. These stamps are paid for with tax dollars.

The Michigan food-stamp system is looking into Fick's case - it has started the process of asking the federal government for a waiver, so that future lottery winners would have their winnings taken into account when determining their eligibility for food stamps. The food stamp program is federal, but states can sometimes request waivers of certain rules. Recently, Michigan won a battle to stop college students from getting food stamps.

"For Leroy Fick to continue to use a Bridge Card, paid for by the taxpayers, after winning the lottery, is obscene," said Republican Michigan senator Rick Jones. "What a waste of taxpayer money."