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Steven from Charlotte, North Carolina, revealed in a recent episode of “The Ramsey Show” podcast that he won $1 million from the Virginia State Lottery eight years ago and claims to have already spent his winnings via gambling.

North Carolina man said he never received $1 million, won $766,000 and kept $555,000 after taxes

“I have gone through it all,” he said, revealing that his $1 million prize advertised on his winning scratch ticket didn’t represent the actual value, which was $766,000. He was left with just $555,000 after taxes.

However, the majority of his winnings were spent the same way he won it — by gambling. His gambling expenditures included sports betting and casino games.

“I gambled to buy the ticket, right? That never stopped,” he said.

Steven said he contacted Gamblers Anonymous, a fellowship that helps people overcome gambling addictions. 

Only by then, the damage had already been done. Steven said his gambling losses put him in a hole financially, adding that he has only $6,000 left in his bank account and $29,000 in outstanding debt from federal student loans.

After winning the lottery, Steven said he spent just “a little bit” on non-necessities to help him enjoy life, such as paying for a new car in cash. He apparently used some of his winnings to pay off debt as well. 

Steven earns $75,000 per year as a restaurant manager

Steven earns $75,000 a year working as a restaurant manager in North Carolina. The job allows him to save $2,400 in excess cash every month, according to the man himself. He says this financial plan will help him pay off his $29,000 debt within 15 or 16 months.

Of course, Steven’s situation could be much worse. According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a restaurant manager in 2024 is about $72,000. Though, based on over 86,500 salaries reported, Indeed shows roughly $59,000.

At least the North Carolina man has a good-paying job, as he continues to seek help for his gambling addiction. 

About 2.5 million U.S. adults (1%) are estimated to meet the criteria for a severe gambling disorder each year, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).

Another 5-8 million (2-3%) would be considered to have “mild or moderate” gambling problems. Approximately “85% of U.S. adults have gambled at least once in their lives, with 60% having gambled within the past year,” per NCPG.

“We believe, nationwide, the rate and severity of gambling problems have increased across the United States since 2018,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of NCPG. 

“We have every reason to believe the growth of online sports betting is a major contributing factor to the increase in gambling problems,” Whyte said.

In June 2022, NCPG expanded its helpline to users nationwide. The 1-800-GAMBLER federally registered service was only previously available to New Jersey.

Retail sports betting was legalized in North Carolina in 2019. Online sports betting was then legalized in the Tar Heel State in 2023. Online betting sites first launched on March 11. BetMGM, DraftKings, and ESPN BET are among the betting apps now available in the state.