A Michigan man who won $2 million in a state lottery game continues to collect food stamps 11 months after striking it rich.
And there’s nothing the state can do about it, at least for now.
Leroy Fick, 59, of Auburn won $2 million in the state lottery TV show “Make Me Rich!” last June. But the state’s Department of Human Services determined he was still eligible for food stamps, Fick’s attorney, John Wilson of Midland, said Tuesday.
Eligibility for food stamps is based on gross income and follows federal guidelines; lottery winnings are considered liquid assets and don’t count as income. As long as Fick’s gross income stays below the eligibility requirement for food stamps, he can receive them, even if he has a million dollars in the bank.
Food stamps are paid for through tax dollars and are meant to help support low-income families.
Wilson said Fick told the DHS officials he’d won $2 million but was told he could keep using the Bridge Card issued to him to buy groceries.
Though the food stamp program is federal and states must follow U.S. guidelines, states sometimes request waivers of rules. Michigan was granted a waiver recently to stop college students from qualifying for food stamps.
“For Leroy Fick to continue to use a Bridge Card, paid for by the taxpayers, after winning the lottery, is obscene,” said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “What a waste of taxpayer money.”
Jones contacted DHS officials Monday about Fick’s case, and was told the department’s hands were tied by federal regulations.
“There is no liquid asset requirement for getting food stamps,” Jones said. “The department is asking the federal government for an immediate change (in policy). They’re hoping this case will help the federal government act.”