Monday, May 27, 2024
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Food stamps aren’t for lottery jackpot winners

News broke last week that someone in California bought the winning ticket for a $1.7 billion Powerball jackpot. Yet while the winner isn’t known, taxpayers may soon be the losers.

Tens of thousands of substantial lottery winners are receiving food stamps, through a combination of state negligence and federally created loopholes. Congress should get lottery winners off this low-income program when passing the Farm Bill later this fall.

The Foundation for Government Accountability submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to all 50 states, requesting information on the number of substantial lottery winners on the food stamp program since 2019. We aren’t talking about the proud owners of $20 prizes from scratchers. We’re talking about those who won at least $4,250, which under federal law, makes a person ineligible for the taxpayer’s help.

Mega Millions ticket

Tens of thousands of lottery winners receive food stamps, through a combination of state negligence and federally created loopholes. (iStock)

Thirteen states responded, indicating that more than 66,000 substantial lottery winners continued receiving food stamps. (Across all 50 states, the number is likely in the hundreds of thousands.) Yet those 13 states have only removed about 400 lottery winners. Illinois is the worst offender, removing a mere 99 substantial winners out of the more than 50,000 on food stamps.

Hayden Dublois is data and analytics director at the Foundation for Government Accountability.

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