The life of a Lotto winner

Debbie Kujava and her brother, Dennis Kujava, are settling in as millionaires just fine, thank you very much. There are no sad stories about the burden of new money in Ross, Minn.

Debbie hit Lotto America in March for $23 million — $9 million after taxes — and had a pact to share it with her brother, who shared it with his children.

“Like I told them down in the Cities, I said I can’t use all that money, not at my age,” Dennis, 66, tells the Grand Forks Herald. “I wouldn’t even try. So, that’s why I split it up. I figured it will give them a good start in life, and if they don’t make it now, they never will.”

Dennis was already retired from Polaris in Roseau, and Debbie quit her job as an LPN.

“The only thing I’ve been buying is farm machinery now.”

He can claim the farm machinery as a tax write-off.

“We can’t work—we’d be working for nothing,” Debbie said. “But when people out there think, ‘Oh my God, they won $22.8 million,’ it’s more like $6 million or $7 million.”

Income taxes for 2018 will further carve into the winnings, but the Kujavas are set for the foreseeable future.

“We’re not complaining about it—it changed our lives,” Debbie says; paying off a sea of bills was her first priority.

“I’m more relaxed now,” she said. “I feel that I’m back to my normal self. I was a nervous wreck trying to keep ahead of bills. I was getting behind on credit cards. But yeah, now I feel back to normal.”

They get four or five calls a day from people looking for money, the Herald says. But they say the locals don’t treat them any differently.