Should Michigan lottery winner use food stamps?

AUBURN, Mich.— A Michigan man has continued to accept food aid from the state even though he won big in a state lottery game and said he told officials about it.

Leroy Fick won the $2 million jackpot in the "Make Me Rich!" contest in June. Despite receiving about $850,000 in winnings, the Auburn resident is still using his Michigan Bridge Card, an electronic version of food stamps.

Fick's lawyer said his client hasn't done anything illegal.

"He did call the state," John Wilson, the Midland attorney representing Fick, told The Bay City Times for a story Wednesday. "Not to mention, the state knows he won. They issued the check."

Further, Wilson said, Fick's case was recently reviewed and his eligibility was confirmed.

"It's not him," Wilson said. "As far as him doing the right thing by the (Department of Human Services), he did the right thing."

Fick told WNEM-TV in Saginaw that more than half the lottery prize went to taxes. He said the department told him he could continue to use the card, which is paid with tax dollars.

"If you're going to ... try to make me feel bad, you aren't going to do it," he said.

Fick appeared on the lottery show after winning $1,000 on one of the lottery's $20 instant games.

Department spokeswoman Gisgie Gendreau said that, under federal guidelines, if a person receives a lump-sum payment, the winnings are not counted as income. The money is considered income if the person receives regular, ongoing payments.

DHS inspector general's office director Al Kimichik said food assistance on the Bridge card is guided by federal regulations but authorities are taking steps to change the policy.

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