Wild” Willie Seeley of Manahawkin, New Jersey, has one piece of advice for the winner of last week’s $400 million Powerball pot in South Carolina: Run. “Just disappear,” he said, speaking from hard-won experience. “Get lost while you still can.”
After Seeley and 15 co-workers from Ocean County’s vehicle maintenance garage shared part of an even bigger Powerball jackpot last month, $450 million, the “Ocean’s 16” celebrated the win at a press conference where Seeley stole the show with a cascading beard, tinted shades and a battered straw hat. “We are very happy, happy, happy,” he said to hoots and hollers from the crowd. “I’m going to continue to watch NASCAR races on Sunday. Maybe I’ll be at a log cabin on multiple acres of land.”
Now, however, that sense of infinite freedom has curdled into regret. In their first interview since being thrust into the national spotlight, Willie and Donna appear less like the “happy, happy, happy” recipients of a blessing than the weary parents of a problem child. “There are days I wish we were back to just getting paid every two weeks,” Willie said last Friday from inside his modest, antler-adorned home. “You have to change your whole way of life, but we didn’t want to change the way we lived. We liked the way we lived.”
Donna goes even further, calling their winnings “the curse.” And while they wouldn’t go so far as to give the money back, they’re more than happy to pass the spotlight to an as-yet-unidentified dupe in the Gamecock state, a man who, according to South Carolina lottery officials, pulled off the road for hotdog buns and bought the winning ticket on a lark. “He doesn’t understand,” Willie said. “The drama is nonstop.”
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Having loads of money doesn’t necessary bring you happiness. It certainly eases financial woes but it doesn’t make you ultimately happy. Do you agree?