When Eye on Boise asked him why he thinks Idahoans are still buying lottery tickets despite the downturn, Idaho’s biggest-ever lottery winner, Brad Duke, who won $220.3 million in a Powerball drawing in 2005, said, “There’s always the chance, there’s always the hope. I suppose for some people, that goes a long ways - to invest a couple of bucks for some hope might give ‘em a little relief.” Duke, 37, said he still plays the lottery from time to time. “It’s always been a hobby of mine - I like numbers games,” he said.
Since his big win, he’s gone from manager of a local Gold’s Gym to owner of a consulting firm that travels around the country and helps people run their gyms. He’s also done some traveling to indulge his hobby of downhill mountain biking, in which he competes, and he’s set up a family foundation that’s given more than $100,000 to charities including the Children’s Home, Project Patch, Hope House, the American Diabetes Association and the LiveStrong Foundation. Duke, who still lives in the same Star, Idaho home as before his big win, said the philanthropy was the most rewarding part. He told state and lottery officials, “Thanks for making it possible for Idaho people to win big money.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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