Brad Duke and the lottery
Note: In a recent story about the bad luck that winning the lottery brought some winners, we talked about an exception to the rule, one Brad Duke. Today we take a little closer look at Brad Duke, and see how he has been doing since he won the lottery.
With the PowerBall Lottery reaching above the Billion Dollar mark, there seems to be a great deal of interest in this form of gambling, by an increasingly large number of players. The odds of an individual winning this grand prize have been calculated to be in the range of 1 in 292 million — very slim indeed.
On the other hand, an individual winner would have a very good chance, 6 out of 10, to end up taking bankruptcy within five years. Yet, recently, three individuals, in three states did win the power ball lottery and will split winnings of $1.5 Billion. It goes without saying that every player feels that he/she would be the exception to that statistic of winners going broke, and feels that his/her life would be permanently changed (for the good) if he/she should win. Good Luck!
Anyway, in the midst of the power-ball mania, this seems to be a good time to look again at Brad Duke, a fellow who appears to have the lottery and its consequences figured out, and see how he’s doing today, after winning his “measly” $220 Million jackpot in 2005 — a paltry sum compared to present day jackpots, but never-the-less, enough to change his life forever.
To review Brad Duke’s story: Duke was intrigued by the lottery, from the time he was a small boy, long before he was old enough to participate. Over the years he was a regular player, but never invested large sums. He had devised a system, of sorts, which he never has divulged, for picking his numbers. His aim was always to shoot for the modest prizes — $500, or $1,000, never thinking much about the big purses.
In 2005 Duke was a 33-year old bachelor, a mid-level manager and bicycling instructor in five Idaho gym locations. He earned $60,000 a year and worked 60 hours a week. His ultimate goal was to someday accumulate $1 million in assets. In the meantime, he was pleased with his progress on his career path and his life in general. He certainly did not need great wealth to be happy.
On his way to a bicycle race (his passion) on May 28, 2005, Duke stopped at a convenience store for a few protein bars and water — and he picked up a few lottery tickets, just for the fun of it. He enjoyed his day of racing, but it was a few days later before he bothered to check out his power ball tickets for a possible winner. During that time he fantasized a bit over what he would do if he won $10,000 or $20,000. (Because cycling was so important to him, he had decided that he would buy a really high end mountain bike if he won.)
Duke was pleased, but not overly surprised — he was always basically optimistic — when his winning ticket turned out to represent a prize of some $220 Million. The girls at the quick shop, where he checked his ticket were far more excited to see that winning ticket than was he.
For some days after he had won, Duke kept the news to himself (with just a phone call to his dad). He pondered his good fortune, and made plans for his future. If he was going to do something great he could not go off half-cocked on a spending spree. He was determined not to waste the gift that had been handed him. He knew he needed to keep his feet on the ground. He tried to keep his life just the same. He kept his job. He kept his three year old car. He kept his modest house. He needed time to formulate his plans, and he needed time to grow his fortune.
He decided that he would really like to make a difference to the world with his philanthropy, and to do this he really needed more than the $74 million that he would end up with after paying his taxes on the $220 million. He needed a billion dollars, and to grow his $74 million into that kind of money he needed help. He needed a team of people around him that knew more than he did — about a lot of things. He needed that team to be people he could trust.
Over the next weeks Duke hired a personal assistant, a corporate tax attorney, and a banker, the core of his team of about 20 people — accountants, a publicist, sales people and investment consultants. Said Duke, “You really have to define what is important to you. Then develop a plan around that. Get good people to help you do what you’re not good at doing.” Most of the people of this original team were still with Duke 10 years later. One thing that Duke insisted upon was that his team members attend his 6:30 am cycling class at the gym — both to build comradery among the members, and to improve their fitness level for years to come.
Initially, the bulk of Duke’s $65 million went into a mixture of conservative investments, while he concentrated on managing, then later, promoting bicycle races. He expanded the fitness consulting business that he had begun before that fateful day.
Duke did keep his job — for about 2 Ѕ years, until the distractions became more than he could handle — people were constantly coming to the gym, bringing him new ideas for new products, new projects that just needed a bit of money to really take off. He lost some of his former friends when he refused their pleas and ideas on how he should be spending his money.
His used car, he finally gave to a nephew, and replaced it with a car that was two years older — because it fit his bicycle carrier better. He stayed in his modest home, even though people began camping out on his lawn, hoping to be able to talk with him about their ideas.
He did take his close bicycling buddies on some great trips in the first couple of years, and was able to give family members annual cash gifts in the $12,000 range, but overall, the money he spent on himself and his family was less than $1 Million, while the money he was able to give to charities that he thought were worthwhile (mostly in Idaho) exceeded $2 Million.
Maybe Duke’s largest expenditure for himself has been bicycles. He continues to buy high end mountain bikes for himself (10 plus), and has given bikes to just about every member of his extended family. He still rides his mountain bikes regularly, if not competitively. A bad spill a couple of years ago left him with broken bones. It kept him from riding for an entire season — very difficult for him to take, and he feels more than ever that bikes are a part of his way of life. (Balancing time between the Board Room and the mountain bike trails has been a chore for Duke. He enjoys both and he is constantly learning from both. Both activities take great concentration. (Maybe that is why there are not a lot of multi-millionaire bikers.)
At first Duke attempted to pick out the people who should get his gifts by himself, but he soon found that he was not good at picking the people and causes by himself, after getting burned by people and causes that sounded good, but turned out to be bogus or less than desirable. He was able to solve this problem by setting up the Duke Family Foundation and appointing some of his family members to screen the appeals, and merely consult him on their choices.
In spite of the pitfalls of suddenly having so much money, Duke is pleased with the life his fortune has taken him. He has strong ties with his family, and says that his long-time relationships have never been stronger. He still has his same girl-friend, but he is very very strict about keeping her privacy, and out of the spotlight. Duke has never lost sight of his goal — to grow his fortune to $1 Billion or more in his lifetime, which he feels should keep his charitable work going for years to come.
Duke spends much of his time and energy these days on developing his two main companies. Synergy Fitness Group is his health club consulting company, which he started even before he hit the lottery. The Duke Speed Academy helps kids become better athletes.
By 2016 (most current update) Duke and his team had grown his $65 million prize to over $100 million. This, despite periodic setbacks in the housing market and the stock market, and Brad Duke seems to be right on track to achieve his billion dollar goal, and more. We wish him well, and hope that future lottery winners look to him as their inspiration and do the same.
In an interview Duke said that his real goal in life is to enjoy life and follow the philosophy, “Life is what you make of it.” He didn’t need to win the lottery to live like that.
(Oh, yes, one thing more. Does Duke still play the lottery game? He was asked recently if he had bought a ticket for the $1.5 Billion Power Ball Lottery. His answer, “Of course. How could I not?” — Why not indeed!)Brad Duke and the lottery Note: In a recent story about the bad luck that winning the lottery brought some winners, we talked about an exception to the rule, one Brad Duke. Today we take a little
Idaho Powerball winner hands out big checks to help children
When Brad Duke won the $220 million Powerball in 2005, he knew full well most lottery winners have a hard time dealing with instant wealth. So he adopted a philosophy: “Beginning with what will be said about you at your funeral and work backwards from there,” is Duke’s motto. He’s living it too.
This week the Duke Family Foundation donated its millionth dollar. Not bad, considering the foundation started as a tax write off. “I didn’t know much about philanthropy. I knew you could play in some golf tourneys and the money would go to a good cause. But once we got it funded and involved my family on the board it became important thing to all of us,” says Duke.
Golf is a part of the foundation. They host an annual, appropriately named, Windfall Classic tournament. Every cent raised over the past 11 years has been donated to non-profits supporting children and all of the money stays right here in the Treasure Valley. It’s a lesson he learned from his mentor, another multi-millionaire from Micron. “One thing Steve Appleton taught me when we were spending time together is don’t be a blip on a graph, somewhere in another state that doesn’t even know what you are doing. Keep it local and make a difference,” says Duke.
This year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Idaho received a check for $36,000. The Duke Family Foundation is also investing $100,000 to build a computer lab for the Salvation Army’s new Boise campus. Large amounts of money to most, but Duke has a different perspective.
He’s still working on his original mission to take his millions and turn it into a billion. “The billion dollar phraseology was something I could understand, everyone could understand. But the goal was to stay on track. To grow the wealth and not lose my way,” explains Duke.
Not only has he not lost his way, Brad Duke is helping to create straighter paths for thousands of local children.This week the Duke Family Foundation donated its millionth dollar. Not bad, considering the foundation started as a tax write off. ]]>