Michigan woman charged with collecting welfare after $1 million lottery win found dead
Amanda Clayton, 25, died of a possible drug overdose at an Ecorse, Michigan, home, police say.
October 1st, 2012
01:54 PM ET

Michigan woman charged with collecting welfare after $1 million lottery win found dead

A woman who continued receiving public assistance after winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in a Michigan lottery game was found dead in a Detroit suburb this weekend.

Amanda Clayton, 25, was sleeping with her 18-month-old daughter at a home in Ecorse when, according to police, she died of a possible drug overdose.

The baby "was right next to her sleeping.  They were watching a movie together. She started crying, and that’s when Rachel walked in and she tried to see what was going on and she flipped (Clayton) and she was gone,” a friend's boyfriend told CNN affiliate WXYZ-TV, asking that he not be identified.

The WXYZ story did not further identify Rachel, but the station reported that a friend and her boyfriend had been babysitting Clayton's daughter and son.

An autopsy has been completed, according to the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office, and no definite cause of death can be determined until a toxicology report comes back in six to eight weeks, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Clayton won $1 million in the "Make Me Rich" lottery game show in October. She took a lump sum, and after taxes, had a little more than $500,000 with which she bought a house and car. She also continued to collect $200 a month in state food assistance until the state learned of the lottery win and pulled her benefits in March.

Asked by CNN affiliate WDIV-TV if she felt she was entitled to the money, she replied, "I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn't, I thought maybe it was OK because I'm not working."

After the state Department of Human Services and Office of Inspector General looked into the matter, the Lincoln Park woman was charged with two felony counts of welfare fraud.

Michigan law requires that public aid recipients report any changes to their assets within 10 days, but the state inquiry revealed that Clayton collected $5,475 in food and medical benefits for which she should have been ineligible.

Clayton pleaded no contest to the charges and was placed on probation in July, The Detroit News reported, adding that her attorney said she had paid back the inappropriate benefits. The case prompted state legislation barring lottery winners from receiving government benefits.

The friend's boyfriend who spoke to WXYZ said Clayton had been in "a bad stage" lately and had been tormented in the aftermath of her lottery win.

"So many people tried to take advantage of her, act like they are her friends just to get some money from her. It gets to the point where you start questioning yourself: Are they really my friends or are they using me?” he said.

A neighbor who had known Clayton for at least 17 years described her to The Detroit News as "a nice, pleasant girl who never got in trouble, until she won the lottery."

Sheryl Schonfeld also told the newspaper that Clayton had been going through a custody battle over her son, had recently moved to escape her boyfriend's pestering and that Clayton's mother recently said Amanda had been taking prescription drugs.

In August, the paper reported, two men and two women were arraigned after Clayton and a neighbor were involved in a dispute over yard clippings. Clayton had cut her grass and left the clippings in the driveway of neighbor Victor Bartola, who swept them back into her yard, The Detroit News said.

The two argued, and a friend of Clayton's left and returned with three other people, according to the paper. A fight broke out involving a knife, bat and airsoft gun, and Bartola was hospitalized and released, the paper reported.

Clayton's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday in Allen Park.

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Filed under: Crime • Michigan • U.S.
soundoff (340 Responses)
  1. Fred

    This woman did not have to die this way, when her friends noticed she was shaking they should have called 911 to get an ambulance over there. People need to learn the warning signs. I'm sure they were intimidated by her money. How sad.

    October 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cms

    I remember seeing the story when it first came out. Sad. This is what happens when the state owns you because you are on welfare. Even if you win the fricken lottery they still own you.

    October 1, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. KalifUni

    Thanks God!

    October 1, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. steve

    so what's the big deal?
    she was a druggie. her choice

    October 1, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Flagged for character flaw.

      October 1, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • MaxPower

      Leaglize it! If drugs was legal this wouldn't a happened.

      October 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • daveogilvy47

      @maxpower: People will OD on drugs whether they're legal or not...

      October 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    Awe! One more Obama supporter gone!

    October 1, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • neebu

      Are you kidding me? This girl didn't VOTE. She was a lost soul who needed more help than anyone gave her. Stop making this about your politics, you fool – grow a heart.

      October 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Decency

      Flagged for removal

      October 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mike

    Its sad she had no capacity to absorb the win and get on with her life and raise her child. Just as sad are the moronic hateful posts here dancing in self-righteous glee at her death. "So what's the big deal"? "Thanks God". What the hell is wrong with you people? Have you no pity, no heart? Yes, when you lead a low level life with low level people bad things happen. But you hope when good luck comes your way you can pull out of the muck and reach a better life. Its unfortunate she didn't. Her passing is nothing to laugh or gloat about.

    October 1, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff

    Clearly this woman was not only uneducated but had no one in her life who was able to distinguish right from wrong or convey these ethical principles to her. I suspect the few family or friends who did appear (post lottery) were only there for what she could offer them and not to provide her with much needed advice, which she undoubtedly could have used from someone. Yes, she was an adult and bilking the taxpayer is reprehensible but the same sudden wealth that has many deriding her for her poor choices also most likely contributed to her death. I believe that finding some preserve enjoyment in her demise make us as, a society, no better than those who let this woman down, either in her childhood or as an adult.

    October 1, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • smfree

      Jeff and Mike (in the post above), thank you for your excellent posts regarding this story. I lived a troubled life up until my 40s, and most people only placed judgment upon me for my continual poor decisions yet never did much of anything to help me improve my life by even spending a few minutes talking to me about things. I was a single parent for most of my son's upbringing, and it was difficult. I "dealt" with my problems by using drugs and alcohol way too much but did hold a full-time job. My son's self-esteem suffered for it. I made a choice to get sober (on my own) when he was in high school, which I did. He just graduated from college this year in a good field and will start his new job soon. Over the past 7 years, I was fully present in his life, and it made a huge difference. It was hard to gain his trust at first, but it gradually happened. Although I am so thankful that I finally got it together, I often wonder how things may have been different had someone sat me down and helped me with a plan for me and my son's life. If someone would have listened instead of always telling me what I was doing wrong. I could go on with this story for way too long, so I'll leave it at thank you. You both are right on.

      October 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • ruben

      everybody is responsible for their own choices. This hippie mentality that we shouldn't be responsible and it's someone else's fault is the exact reason why are schools are going to waste, teens are committing violent crimes at a bigger pace, and that there is no shame in collecting welfare like there used to be. You need to start living in the real world instead of the hugga bunch land you think you live in! She deserves no pity

      October 1, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sandra LeVin

    Her "little girl" is probably better off without this low life for a mother.

    October 1, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tom

    Now the $$ can go to the state or someone more deserving. She should have been trying to get an education and work instead of playing the lotto.

    October 1, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. LiveFromATX

    good riddance.

    October 1, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John Tucker

    This is odd. It looks like some kind of prescription drug interaction with something. She was acting strange a few articles said but not really all that cracked out. Not enough you would think to kill her.

    October 1, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • XxChR15xX

      And your a qualified DR now?

      October 9, 2012 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jade

    Sure sounds like a whole ton of you are jealous because neither of you won the million dollars, that's what it sound like.

    October 1, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Eriik

    Look @ all the supposedly good people with their hateful comments. Everyone that is posting on the topic does wrong daily, if not daily then weekly. So what that your habit is easy to conceal. This girl had problems like so many other people. She passed away and supposedly better people with better morals are gloating in her death. This is the reason we are failing as a country and nothing else. The hypocrisy.

    October 1, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Beavis

    What a pathetic end to this chick, too bad. She was pretty worthless for trying to scam the welfare system but I wouldn't have wished death on her or anything. Now the kids got nobody.

    October 1, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "The Lunatic Fringe"

    Your going to lose anyways. Why you want to waste one dollar bets on worthless scraps of paper, is way beyond my understanding.

    October 1, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
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