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Lottery winner Amanda Clayton: I still need public aid

11:28 AM, Mar 8, 2012   |    comments
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Amanda Clayton, 24, won a $1 million dollar jackpot last fall. Photo courtesy: Michigan Lottery


(CNN) -- Amanda Clayton hit it big playing the Michigan Lottery. Like many winners, she used her $1 million prize to buy a new house.

But the Lincoln Park, Michigan, resident is receiving money in another form -- $200 a month in state food assistance, according to CNN Detroit affiliate WDIV.

"I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn't, I thought, maybe, it was OK because I'm not working," Clayton, 24, told WDIV when it asked whether it was appropriate for her to receive the money.

Now a state lawmaker is trying to stop such assistance, which is not illegal. He says the food assistance should not go to those who have found riches through the lottery.

"We need to continue to protect our taxpayers' dollars ... and taxpayer dollars should be going to those who really do need assistance," Michigan Rep. Dale Zorn of Ida Township told HLN's Vinnie Politan on Wednesday.

The Michigan Department of Human Services said it agrees that the system needs to change. The agency told WDIV that it is difficult to verify if the financial situation changes for a person who gets public assistance.

"DHS relies on clients being forthcoming about their actual financial status. If they are not, and continue to accept benefits, they may face criminal investigation and be required to pay back those benefits," the agency told the affiliate.

"Our Office of Inspector General will continue to vigorously pursue any and all abuse and fraud in the welfare system," the agency added.

In October, Clayton walked away with $1 million in the "Make Me Rich!" lottery game show. She also bought a car, WDIV reported.

After taking a lump sum and paying taxes, the unemployed woman said she ended up with just more than $500,000.

Asked if she had the right to the public assistance money, Clayton answered, "I kind of do. I have no income, and I have bills to pay. I have two houses."

Zorn said the state House has passed bills on the matter. One would require a state agency to conduct an assets test if a citizen wins more than $1,000 in lottery earnings. "That will trigger whether or not the people are eligible to receive public assistance."

The legislature has not approved any final measures.

Clayton told WDIV she would continue using the food-assistance card until it is cut off. "It's hard. I am struggling."

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