Pearlie Mae Smith and Daughters via The Smith Family Foundation

At 70-years-old,  Pearlie Mae Smith’s life changed after she purchased a winning lottery ticket worth $429 million. Along with money pooled with other family members, Smith purchased the ticket at a convenience store in Trenton, New Jersey. The mother of seven and her family won the sixth-largest jackpot in the game’s history, according to New Jersey Real-Time News.

Smith, 70, and her family decided to take the $284 million lump sum and help others who are in need. After one year as multi-millionaires, the Smith family has spent $16 million to fight poverty. Shortly after winning the lottery, the family opened the Smith Family Foundation.

Their organization helps to assist with education, neighborhood development, youth services, scholarships, and other community initiatives. They have used their money to fight against homelessness, create job training, and offer college prep courses for low-incomes students. They are currently working on building a resource center that will feature a library, conference center, and work spaces.

In the past, some lottery winners have found it difficult to adjust to life after becoming wealthy overnight. In 2016, lottery winner Marie Holmes was ridiculed after it was discovered that she paid $21 million to bail her boyfriend out of jail on several different occasions.

In 2013, David Lee Edwards blew $27 million and died broke 12 years after hitting the lottery. Edwards bought a $1.6 million house in Palm Beach Gardens; paid $1.9 million for a Lear Jet; bought another home for $600,000; bought three losing race horses; invested $4.5 million in a fiber optics company and limo business; he paid his ex-wife $500,000 for custody of his teenage daughter; bought a $200,000 Lamborghini Diablo and a multitude of other cars; bought a $35,000 Hummer golf cart for his daughter; paid for a $159,000 ring; and paid $30,000 for a plasma screen TV. He eventually lost the money and lived in poor conditions as the years past.

The Smith family serves as an example of how to prioritize when becoming wealthy overnight. Because there is so much to management, it’s important for lottery winners to have a strong support system that can be trusted.

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.

  • thesedays_99

    Why does the article say “black family”? Why not just say a family who won….

    • SpiceGirl

      too much like right….

    • Will Williams

      It is important to highlight achievements. Specifics like race and age should be recognized positively especially when race is so prominent in negative highlights involving allegations unfounded and unproven against this same group


        I concur

      • Angela Gathings

        Minorities, especially AA and hispanics will always be seen in a negative light to some people regardless of their status, behavior or achievements.
        No one asks to be born to whatever family or social class they were involuntarily awarded.
        If you Are not a minority just be glad you don’t have to worry about these issues.

    • Nu Wave Ron T

      Hmmmm….. Another good question is, “why does the term ‘Black’ impact you?”

      • thesedays_99

        Impact? It was a simple question. Haven’t seen articles that start out with “white family ” does this or that. Shouldn’t matter what race. What’s important is that they’re a good family helping those in need. If I’m wrong so be it. Just my opinion, nothing more nothing less.

        • Nu Wave Ron T

          Funny… If race really didn’t matter, you wouldn’t have cared that it said ‘Black.’ I would bet $10 that if the headline read, “Black Family Wastes Lottery Winnings” you would not have stopped to comment. Maybe you don’t realize it, but the Black image is under siege by non-black owned media. The passive barrage of negative and self-depricating images on tv, radio and magazines exclude the portrayals of everyday Black people who do extraordinary things. Black media such as Rolling Out tries to balance the images by telling the stories of everyday Black achievements. Nothing more, nothing less. Peace Bro.

          • SIVOUSPLAIS

            I agree! Well put and well spoken. When I heard someone won the first thing I said was “I hope they were black”! Sure did!

          • Madison

            That would be perfectly fine.
            If they didn’t try to also make all white people sound like racist terrorists.
            As such, their reporting is terribly biased.

            Which makes it misleading & false.
            You cannot go to the extremes of only supporting 1 race.

            Every race has bad & good apples.
            We are humanity.

            Time for rollingout to stop whining like crybabies.
            And act like they are more than 5 years old.
            They are adults, for crying out loud!

    • Valerie Perkins

      I with you on that because when someone white win the article never says a white family won the lottery.

    • refichter

      Uh, Black-oriented site TRYING to counter the ENDLESS racism and negativity about Black people in America. Easy to understand if you’re paying attention. You came to this site and never noticed that?

      • thesedays_99

        I just clicked on the article because it was about the lottery. Didn’t really pay attention to what site it was.

  • SpiceGirl

    good for them….Salute to Ms. Smith

  • thesedays_99

    Actually I still would have commented. And no race does not matter to me, but you’ll believe what you want. No, I did not realize that this magazine attempts to put a positive spin on blacks in the media. Only thing I have left to say is don’t try and sum up somebody based on a comment. Your comment was a bit extra because you’re way off on what you think of me. Enjoy your day.

    • Thomas Williams

      @thesedays_99:disqus Why are you offended by the word “Black”? That shows that race is definitely an issue for you.

      • thesedays_99

        You’re kidding right?

      • Nu Wave Ron T

        Thank you Thomas. Even Ray Charles can see that.

  • nosey rosy

    good example of what you do with the money ,, ms smith is old she may not even be here long , if her life long mission already was helping others then this is proof of her goal and achievements , hopefully if she pass her daughters dont fight over the money and waste it .. some black families are strong bonded if you look at where black oriiginate africa thats proof why all this is happening , our family were meant to be strong . notice how nigerians and ethiopians have strong bonds they dont kill each other over petty mess . and they love their women and kids .. ethiopian men do not get put on child support because they never leave their wives and they dont have a kid with some chick .. and have to separate the kids lives . .. african men see us as stupid , and our women desperate . . ms smith seems likie she instilled an african cutlure in her kids . and thats great news

  • James Losch

    looks like they eat much better than I. with the new found wealth, join a health club and each loose fourty. anyway, congrats to your new life and good luck with future goals.

  • TheIdiotStephennorman

    Does their foundation have a website? This article seems kind of light weight.

    • Chip

      It doesn’t seem like they are putting their money where their mouth is, does it?
      Sensationalist feel good story, without any/much action?

      • TheIdiotStephennorman

        OH yeah, give money to the church…or better yet become a church and avoid taxes!