Man scooped £426m on second lottery ticket and bought a 239-room seaside resort

Richard Wahl won half a billion in the lottery and bought a resort hotel
Richard Wahl won half a billion in the lottery and bought a resort hotel -Credit:CBS New York

A lucky man who won half a billion in the lottery plunged his winnings into a plush seaside resort hotel that ended up being condemned.

Richard Wahl was the sole winner of an astonishing $533 (£426) million back in March 2018. The big lotto winner opted to take his winnings in cash, which brought the annuity jackpot down to a one-off payment of $324.6 (£260) million.

Wahl earned the life-changing money from a Mega Millions drawing in New Jersey. Reports at the time claimed that after tax, Wahl walked away with around $175million. Wahl decided to try his luck and play the lotto after hearing from a coworker about Mega Millions, The Mirror reports.

That night Wahl discovered that he'd won the jackpot. The retailer that sold the winning ticket, also received a $30,000 bonus check for selling the winning ticket. At the time, the $533 million jackpot was the biggest lottery jackpot in New Jersey history, the fourth largest Mega Millions jackpot, and the tenth largest Lottery jackpot in North American history.

When asked what comes next for him and his family, Wahl said at the time: "We’re still in a lot of shock and talking to our financial advisors, we have a lot of planning left to do." But he also said he wanted to restore a 1963 Corvette, which was a dream of his.

Wahl moved from Vernon, New Jersey where he used to live and work as a food service manager to the sunshine state of Florida. And it was there that Wahl eyed up his investment.

One year after the historic win, Wahl used a slice of his fortune to purchase La Playa Resort & Suites at an auction. The investment reportedly cost him a total of $13.6 (£10.1) million.

The 239-room hotel on Florida's Daytona beach had been closed since 2016 when it was damaged in Hurricane Matthew.

Wahl revealed in 2019 that he wanted to revamp the hotel that first opened in 1975 by turning it into a timeshare, a vacation real estate property in which multiple buyers can own or lease allotments of usage.

He seemed to have big plans for La Playa resort on Daytona Beach when he bought it
He seemed to have big plans for La Playa resort on Daytona Beach when he bought it -Credit: CBS New York

Restoration works began, including replacing the piping and installing a new balcony for one of the rooms, but Wahl stopped funding the project when Daytona Beach officials ordered him to replace the property's ageing sea wall, part of which had been destroyed in the hurricane.

Wahl then ditched his project and put the property up for sale, asking for the humble amount of $13 (£10) million, per Daytona Beach News-Journal.

In September 2023 local authorities then condemned the building. A big red sign placed on the property's fence read: "This structure is unsafe and its use or occupancy has been prohibited."

Susan Cerbone, a spokesperson for the city, said at the time: "The property is under a condemnation notice because there has been a cessation of normal construction over a two-year period.

"Basically, their permit expired. They are going to remove all trailers and debris relating to the site to remove the demolition order so they can facilitate the sale."

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