Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards announced Friday that he won the Cayman Islands lottery, with a prized reported at $27 million. Edwards indicated he would take the lump sum cash payment of $12 million, and use a substantial portion of his winnings for his campaign.
"I didn't even know I had a ticket," the candidate said at a press conference Saturday, "but apparently it came with the haircut." The Grand Cayman Hair Salon, along with most other hair care providers in the Caymans, participates in the lottery by putting one dollar out of every thousand spent by the customer into a ticket for that customer. Edwards received his 40 tickets for the year last week and one of his aides noticed the winning number.
Since the money was won offshore in a tax haven, Edwards will not have to pay any taxes on his winnings. The particular loophole was added to the tax code on Wednesday through an amendment by Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to the Clinton-Obama Fitness Bill which will improve US health by providing free gyms to citizens. The first gym will be built in Stevens' home state of Alaska at a cost of $500 million. Edwards recently announced his support for the bill.
Responding to criticism about avoiding taxes, the candidate explained that he still believes in his campaign theme of two Americas, and his experience with all this wealth actually shows him a different side of poverty. "Now I understand how poor people feel when they win lotteries," he said, "and if John Edwards can do it, anyone can." Edwards hopes to add more lotteries in the US as part of his anti-poverty efforts.