Amboy native uses 2012 lottery win to change lives

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AMBOY — When most of us dream about winning the lottery, we envision a life changing moment for ourselves and our family. When the Lohse family won the lottery in 2012, they not only had the chance to change their own lives, but they took the opportunity to change the lives of everyone in their community. Brian was born and raised in Amboy, Ill but has lived in Iowa since 1998 after graduating law school in 1995. 

Mary and Brian Lohse of Bondurant, Iowa won $202 million dollars in 2012.

They were interviewed this fall on a special segment of the Today Show and Good Morning America that featured lottery winners who have given back to their community and done good things for others. This segment was aired when the winnings of an upcoming lottery jackpot was reported to be $1.6 Billion dollars. 

No doubt the winnings have changed the lives of the Lohse family. Brian quit his attorney job and Mary worked for a while on an as needed basis as a medical assistant, but has also since quit her job. Mary actually picked the winning Powerball numbers while Brian was out of town on business.

Prior to winning the lottery, the family functioned like most others, when making ends meet was sometimes difficult. They had a plan for “if and when” they won the lottery: charity, kids, family and friends and fun. They also said that if they won the lottery, they would build a grocery store in their little town. And they did. The grocery store also has a little café in it as well. The Lohses’ enjoy spending time there and visiting with the customers. They are not involved in the day to day operation of the store.

Soon after winning the lottery, the couple met with an attorney and set up a plan to use the winnings effectively. They also set up the Lohse Family Foundation and began funneling money to those causes they had championed before they won the lottery.

In addition to the grocery store, a $4.5 million dollar project, the couple paid off the mortgage of their Bondurant Federated Church and they contributed $3.5 million to a new football stadium for the Bondurant-Farrar High School. One special gift they gave, was a new Mustang to their pastor, who had joked about having one in several of his sermons. They also helped a local cancer fundraiser set a record and donated toward city park improvements. They have also been known to help individuals with things like college expenses.

The couple has three children who are now 21, 17 and 14. They enjoy being able to travel. They have been to Ireland, London, Paris, Hawaii and the Caribbean. 

Research has proven that most lottery winners return to their old lifestyle with a few years of their good fortune. This is not the case with the Lohses’. They have reaped the rewards of giving back to the community that they live in, raising children with a keen sense of responsibility and being able to be generous and compassionate children. Not everyone blows through the cash and ends up back in debt. The Lohses’ are proof of that.

Brian was recently elected as an Iowa State Representative and continues to be involved in many aspects of the community.

“Happiness is not in the money,” said Brian. “It is in family and friends.”