"Money Doesn't Make You Happier" - NBC4 Washington

"Money Doesn't Make You Happier"

Wisdom from a Powerball millionaire



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    The big winner wasn't from here but we have two million-dollar winners.

    Just about every lottery player has a mental list of swag they’d buy with their newfound wealth.

    W. Randy Smith’s recent purchases look like this:

    • 6 Ford F-350 pick-up trucks equipped with snow plows and portable snowblowers
    • 2 four-wheel drive ambulances
    • 1 armored personnel carrier
    • 1 mobile forensic law-enforcement unit
    • 1 live-scan fingerprinting system
    • Improvements to the Martinsburg City Police Dept firing range

    Smith, a resident of Berkeley County, W.Va., won the Powerball lottery in August and took home a lump sum payment of $44 million.

    As you might guess from the most recent targets of his largesse, he has a background in law enforcement. He spent 12 years as a Berkeley County deputy sheriff. In 2000, he was elected sheriff and re-elected in 2004. In 2008, he was elected to a four-year term as a Berkeley County magistrate, but stepped down after he won the Powerball.

    When he picked up his oversized check, he said he wasn't sure what he was going to do with the money. He said he knew of just a few things that needed to be taken care of: his mortgage, a new car "and make sure everyone in my immediate family is taken care of."

    Apparently that's all been done, because on Thursday he gave six Berkeley County fire departments the snow-plowing pick-up trucks, according to the Herald-Mail.

    The idea of such specially equipped vehicles is to plow a path for following ambulances and emergency vehicles to ensure that they can get to a victim's home. Emergency crews can use the snowblowers to clear a path to the door.

    "I remember last year's blizzards," he told the Herald-Mail. "I was stuck at home like everybody else, and I had my scanner on. Emergency crews were not able to get through the snow."

    Smith said he recalled thinking at the time that if he ever won the lottery, he’d buy vehicles that could plow through heavy snow for the county’s fire departments. Fifteen months later, he won the lottery.

    "It does save us a lot of money from our own funds, but I also consider Randy more than a millionaire," Back Creek Valley Chief Dan Petry told The Journal. "I consider him an asset to Berkeley County and a friend."

    As for the armored personnel carrier, it’ll be based in Berkeley County and can be used anywhere in the state for SWAT teams to navigate firing zones or rescue victims in hostage situations. The APC is the only one in West Virginia, Smith told the Herald-Mail.

    The new mobile forensic law enforcement unit is now in the possession of the West Virginia State Police in Martinsburg. It will be used to preserve and transport crime scene evidence.

    Smith, 63, is spreading the wealth. The Martinsburg City Police Department is getting the live scan fingerprinting system and firing range improvements.

    "I wish we had some of these things when I was in the sheriff's department," Smith told the Herald-Mail.

    His generosity has not extended only to public safety. Smith began his philanthropic effort last year by establishing the W. Randy Smith Family Fund with $5 million. In November he donated $500,000 to the building fund for the Hospice of the Panhandle.

    As for the luxury homes and exotic vacations that feature prominently in a lot of lottery fantasies -- Smith still lives in the same house he had before he became a millionaire.

    And he said his lottery win has taught him one thing.

    "Money doesn't make you happier, but it does make living a lot easier."