Banking & Finance, Government, and Law

‘Cash For Life’ winnings hit auction block

January 4, 2016
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Since it began in 1972, the Lottery has contributed nearly $19 billion to education in Michigan. Photo via fb.com

A man’s “Cash For Life” lottery winnings are up for auction.

In one of the most bizarre auctions that Repocast.com has ever held, an unidentified man’s lottery winnings will be auctioned off to the highest bidder by order of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The auction will run online at Repocast.com from 8 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 7.

“Here’s what happened: a 73-year-old man … he’s filed for bankruptcy. When you file for bankruptcy, all your assets are listed and are put into the bankruptcy case. That’s the money that is distributed to creditors,” said Duane Mingerink, president of Repocast.

“Basically, one of the assets this man has — what the bankruptcy’s trustee has given us — the man at some point in his life has won ‘Cash For Life’ lottery through the state of Michigan. So, he receives $1,000 per month for life through the state of Michigan. That asset is being sold through the bankruptcy.”

The bankruptcy trustee set the pre-bid minimum at $30,000, Mingerink said. According to the court’s orders, there will be no buyers’ premium on the rights to receive lottery payments. The winning bidder also will receive payments for both November and December of 2015.

The highest bidder will win the man’s ability to receive $1,000 per month for life, but only as long as the man lives. At the date of the man’s death, the highest bidder will no longer receive the $1,000 per month, Mingerink said.

And that’s the risky detail that’s made this auction stand out.

“This is one of the most unusual auctions out of the thousands we have conducted, and this is sure to pique many people’s interest,” said Scott Miedema, COO of Miedema Asset Management Group. ”The interesting aspect of this auction is the man’s age, 73, and the other unknown details as to his health and life.”

Mingerink agreed that this auction is “odd” for Repocast.com and one of the most unusual auctions he’s ever seen, adding that he feels slightly uncomfortable with the idea of bidding for monetary value on how long a 73-year-old man will live.

The court order makes it legal, he said, but he still feels the whole situation is “weird.”

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I’ve never run across anything like this situation. I wish I knew what to expect. I don’t. But the interest in it has been phenomenal. It stinks for (the 73-year-old man), but it’s only because he’s filed for bankruptcy,” he said.

“Now granted, to me (bidding on this) is a lot like gambling. He could live for a month or 20 years. Who knows? You’ve got to take it all into consideration. And you’re taking a crack at how long this guy is going to live.”

This case is "an extremely unusual situation," said Jeff Holyfield, director of public relations for the Michigan Lottery.

"Lottery winners may assign prizes provided the assignment is made in accordance with the Lottery Act. In this case, the applicable section of the law is Section 432.25, Subsection 6," he said.

"This player claimed the prize in February 1984 and the annual 'for life' prize is paid each January after we receive a letter from the player confirming that he still is entitled to the prize. The player still would have to provide that letter each year for the annual prize payment even if the prize is assigned, since the payment of the prize is for his lifetime."

Once a player has claimed a prize, they are free to do with it as they'd like, Holyfield said. Players may choose to assign their prize, which is spelled out in the state lottery law.

"The auction and the bankruptcy case are under the control of the bankruptcy court. The decision about auctioning off the prize is entirely up to the player," he said.

"We are responsible for meeting our commitment to provide this player with the 'for life' prize payments. It is up to him to decide if he wants to receive those payments or assign them."

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