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And They Didn't Even Pick Up the Tab : New Millionaires Wined, Dined by Lotto

October 26, 1987|From Times Wire Services

As a radio actress in Hollywood decades ago, Eve Spencer went to some pretty big parties attended by the rich and famous.

On Saturday night, the Saratoga resident found herself whooping it up at the Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles--this time, as a multimillionaire.

Spencer, 67, was one of 77 California State Lottery winners who gathered to celebrate their good fortune, and wine, dine and dance into the early hours of Sunday morning.

"I've never seen so many happy faces. Everyone had a wonderful time. The food was great, the wine was flowing. . . . It was just a fun reunion type of thing, even though no one knew anybody else," said Spencer, who with her husband, Donner, 65, won $15.2 million in a Big Spin in June of 1986.

Biggest Jackpot

The party came on the same night as a drawing for the biggest California lottery jackpot so far--$24.7 million. Some of the winners who celebrated Saturday said becoming instantly wealthy has changed their attitude toward money.

"It's easier to spend it, and much easier to look at something that seems overpriced and buy it, because (the cost) doesn't matter," said Mrs. Spencer, who was bedridden after surgery for breast cancer before she won the lottery. "Everyone treats money differently. We've enjoyed it. We've given away some, kept some. We've tried to help others, but also tried to help ourselves."

The Spencers lost a portion of their winnings in the stock market collapse, but for the most part, handling a fortune has not been too difficult, Donner Spencer said.

'Some Strange Deals'

"We've had some strangers trying to burn us, trying to sell us some strange deals, but we've been able to put them off," he said.

Tom Dunbar of Paso Robles said he is organizing a self-help group to assist his well-heeled colleagues cope with the burden of wealth. Dunbar, 37, won $5 million in a Big Spin last January.

"It's a shock to win. I was making $18,000 a year, now I'm getting $252,000," he said. "There's got to be someone who can tell winners the do's and don'ts of having money. There's definitely pitfalls." He said he'd had some investment problems, but declined to talk more about it.

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