Yesterday, we brought you the story of Amanda Clayton, the 24-year-old Michigander who won $1 million by playing the lottery last fall but was still found to be getting and using food stamps. She thinks there's nothing wrong with it. But many of you did. And apparently, the state of Michigan has, too: it's now cut Clayton off from getting the free money.
Clayton, who took a lump-sum pay-out and received just over $500,000 after taxes, was still getting food stamps when local station WDIV-TV caught up with her this week and confronted her about it. When asked if she thought it was okay that she was still getting the free money despite her huge winnings, she said yes.
“I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn’t, I thought maybe it was okay because I’m not working,” Clayton, who gets $200 a month from the state, said when asked if she thought it was right. When asked if she thinks she has a “right” to the food stamp money, she said yes. “I mean, I kind of do.”
“I feel that it’s okay because I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay,” she added. “I have two houses.”
But the welfare well has now run dry -- at least for Clayton.
The Detroit News explains:
Late Wednesday, the state Department of Human Services said Clayton is now no longer getting food stamps after department officials took her off the program.
Amanda Clayton may have broken the law if she continued to accept food stamps after her income and assets exceeded the legal limit for assistance.
To qualify for food stamps, recipients must have income below a threshold. The state last year put in place asset tests for those on welfare and food stamps.
"The person in question hasn't been eligible for a long time," said DHS spokesman Dave Akerly.
A statement issued Wednesday evening from department Director Maura Corrigan said Clayton is "now no longer receiving benefits," but it was unclear when the action was taken.
"DHS relies on clients being forthcoming about their actual financial status," she said. "If they are not, and continue to accept benefits, they may face criminal investigation and be required to pay back those benefits."
But the story doesn't end there. On Wednesday, we also introduced you to Rep. Dale Zorn, the state Rep. who's fighting for a bill that would require welfare recipients to be cross-referenced with lottery winners over $1,000. Well guess what: it turns out he is a distant relative of Clayton's:
Zorn, 58, was unaware of the family connection until The Detroit News asked about it Wednesday and doesn't recall meeting Lane. But Zorn said he checked with a cousin and family historian who verified Lane is "indeed a long distance cousin," five or six times removed.
"I'm not saying it's the right thing to do," Euline Clayton, Amanda's mother, told the Detroit news. "But it's nobody's business if she's not breaking the law."
But she's not garnering much sympathy.
"At a time when so many out-of-work Michigan families are in real need of assistance, it's outrageous for people to cheat and defraud the system like this," Michigan U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who also wants a similar federal law, added.