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Who was the lottery winner that bailed out her boyfriend?

In recent years, there have been several notable cases of lottery winners using their winnings to help loved ones in need. One such case that made headlines involved a young woman from the state of Michigan who won millions in the lottery and used some of the money to bail her boyfriend out of jail. This act of generosity sparked much discussion and debate, as people questioned her decision to aid someone accused of a serious crime. However, it also highlighted the immense life-changing power of a lottery jackpot and how winners choose to use their newfound wealth.

The Lucky Winner

The big winner in this tale was 25-year-old Krysta Martinez of Lansing, Michigan. In December of 2018, Martinez struck it rich in the Lucky For Life lottery game after matching all five winning numbers plus the Lucky Ball. Her good fortune meant that Martinez would receive $25,000 per year for the rest of her life, with a minimum guaranteed payout of 20 years. After taxes, this left her with about $500,000 right away that she could spend as she pleased. For someone who had been working as a cashier at Family Dollar making $11 per hour, this life-altering prize was almost incomprehensible.

After celebrating her big win, Martinez began making plans for how she would use the money. Most people who suddenly come into large sums make major purchases like buying a house or car, traveling the world, or investing. But at the top of Martinez’s priority list was getting her boyfriend Jonathan out of jail.

The Incarcerated Boyfriend

Martinez’s boyfriend, Jonathan Stange, had been arrested a few months prior on charges of unlawful carrying of a concealed weapon and resisting arrest. According to reports, Stange had gotten into an altercation at a convenience store which led to the charges. Unable to afford his $10,000 bond, he had been in jail awaiting trial.

For Martinez, putting up the money to free Stange before his trial was the first thing she wanted to do with her new lottery riches. Within a week of claiming her prize, she put up the $10,000 on Stange’s behalf, allowing him to get out of jail and wait at home for his court dates. This act of loyalty and generosity surprised many who felt Martinez should be focused on only herself and her new millions.

Mixed Reactions to the Bailout

When news broke that Martinez was using part of her lottery winnings to bail out Stange, reactions were mixed. Many people praised her devotion to her boyfriend and willingness to help him out when he needed it most. They saw it as a touching love story – a lucky break that would allow their relationship to survive this difficult circumstance.

But others questioned whether it was wise of Martinez to risk $10,000 on someone accused of carrying a concealed weapon illegally. They felt she may have acted rashly in her haste to get Stange released, rather than consulting lawyers or financial planners first. Some of the more critical reactions portrayed Martinez as naive and reckless with her newfound wealth.

However, Martinez did not seem to regret her decision. In interviews after posting Stange’s bail, she defended her actions, saying “When you love somebody, you’re going to do what you need to do in order to make sure that that person is okay.” She was willing to risk some of her prize money on Stange’s freedom.

The Case Against Stange

According to police reports about the initial incident, Stange had gotten into an altercation with employees at a convenience store back in September 2018. When officers arrived and searched him, they found an illegally concealed pistol. Stange did not have a valid concealed pistol license and resisted arrest, resulting in the two charges he was booked on.

For being a felon in possession of a firearm and resisting police, Stange was facing up to 5 years in prison. Thanks to Martinez’s assistance, he was granted pretrial release and placed on strict home arrest conditions. He was required to wear an electronic tether monitor and was prohibited from using drugs or alcohol.

Stange maintained his innocence and planned to fight the charges in court. Out on bail, his case dragged on for over a year before reaching the trial phase in late 2019.

The Outcome

In December 2019, Stange took his case to trial at Ingham County Circuit Court. By that point, he and Martinez were engaged, with plans to use some of her lottery winnings for their wedding. Martinez also purchased a new home that they shared.

Over a year after the initial incident, a jury ultimately found Stange guilty on both the concealed pistol violation and resisting arrest charges. He was sentenced to 1 to 5 years in prison, although the judge suspended that prison term. Instead, Stange was placed on 2 years of probation, ordered to complete community service, and give up the weapon.

For Martinez, the verdict meant her fiancé avoided more jail time but was not exonerated as they hoped. In interviews after the trial, she reiterated her belief in Stange’s innocence and said she did not regret putting up the money to bail him out pretrial. She stated they were still planning on getting married after the matter was closed.

The gamble of $10,000 of lottery winnings on Stange’s bond paid off in that sense for Martinez. Some may see it as a risky money choice that luckily didn’t backfire too harshly. Others can admire her loyalty through it all as a sign of true love. Regardless, Martinez’s first major act as a lottery winner was granting freedom to her troubled boyfriend when he needed it most.

Lottery Winnings Lead to Legal Issues More Often Than You Would Think

While Martinez’s story made headlines for the large sum she put up to bail out her boyfriend, she is far from the only lottery winner to face legal issues. A significant amount of lottery winners end up in court over disputes tied to their new wealth.

Some examples of legal problems lottery winners commonly encounter:

  • Lawsuits from relatives or friends asking for money
  • Lawsuits against lottery winners from past creditors seeking payment
  • Bankruptcy filings shortly after a big win
  • Criminal charges like theft or money laundering due to improper handling of winnings
  • Disputes over ownership of a winning ticket
  • Class action lawsuits against lottery companies by players alleging misconduct

Claims of Shared Winnings Lead to Lawsuits

One major source of legal trouble involves claims from people who say they are entitled to a portion of a prize. Disputes over pool tickets and informal betting agreements can quickly land lottery winners in court defending themselves.

Family members, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances commonly come out of the woodwork alleging that a prize should be shared with them. They may truly believe they have a right to the winnings, or simply want to cash in on the situation. Either way, it takes extensive litigation to resolve in many cases.

Martinez did not face direct lawsuits from people claiming her prize. But this remains a prominent legal issue other winners encounter.

Winners Have Their Finances Put Under a Microscope

Another avenue for legal trouble after a lottery win is having your finances closely scrutinized. Past debts that went unpaid, back taxes owed, child support issues, and other obligations can suddenly resurface if you come into a jackpot.

Both civil court creditors and government agencies like the IRS can pursue lottery winners for payment of overdue debts. If you have failed to pay taxes, declared bankruptcy, or left bills unpaid in the past, expect them to want their share.

Winners also open themselves up to lawsuits from creditors if they make large, flashy purchases right after winning. Things like luxury cars, jewelry, and second homes can attract lawsuits from creditors who argue they deserve to be paid first.

Criminal Charges Are Not Uncommon

Some lottery winners unfortunately engage in criminal behavior that leads to felony charges. Theft of winning tickets, tax evasion, money laundering, insurance fraud, and other financial crimes do occur.

Having large sums of cash makes some winners targets for thieves as well. And disputes over ownership of a winning ticket have led to violent crimes in some cases too when parties refuse to share.

While there are certainly many positive stories of lottery success, legal disputes and criminal charges remain a real risk factor winners need to navigate. Controversies like Martinez’s case occur more often than the public realizes.

Lottery Winnings Can Put Relationships to the Test

Coming into a sudden windfall of cash can also put immense strain on personal relationships for lottery winners.

Spouses, family members, friends – the dynamics between loved ones are bound to be impacted when one person strikes it rich. While it may sound like a dream come true, that level of money can complicate things.

Spouses Face Intense Scrutiny

For married lottery winners, the status of their relationship moves into the spotlight. Questions swirl about how money will impact the marriage.

Spouses may face accusations of only being interested in the money. There can be intense pressure around signing a prenuptial agreement. Some couples split up not long after a major lottery win.

Martinez and Stange did not face these marital pressures as an unmarried couple. But marital strife is a known side effect experienced by many lottery winners.

Requests for Money Strain Family Ties

Winners also commonly face demands from extended family for financial help and handouts. It can be difficult to balance assisting loved ones in need versus being taken advantage of. Saying no to relatives asking for money is uncomfortable at best in many cases.

Parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, even friends often have their hands out hoping to cash in on a big lottery prize. Having to manage all those requests puts strain on relationships with family and friends.

Jealousy Can Lead to Sabotage

Jealousy and resentment from loved ones who feel they deserved a share of winnings can also damage relationships. Lawsuits over ownership of tickets are more common from family members than strangers. Relatives may feel slighted if not included in the wealth.

There are unfortunate cases of family members sabotaging a lottery winner out of spite and jealousy. They may spread lies to the media or commit fraud using their relative’s name. The lottery fairy tale can quickly transform into a nightmare.

Martinez’s decision to use winnings to bail out Stange likely caused mixed reactions from her family too. Any major giveaway to an unmarried partner raises eyebrows. But she maintained her commitment to him despite outside criticism.

Winning the Lottery Isn’t Always a Fairy Tale Ending

While winning millions in the lottery may seem like a dream come true to many, the reality can be more complicated than you might imagine. Big lottery prizes come with major strings attached.

The cases of legal disputes, criminal charges, strained relationships, and targeted fraud show that instant wealth has a dark side. Winners need to proceed with caution when coming into large sums.

For Krysta Martinez, using $10,000 to bail her troubled boyfriend out of jail was only the beginning of navigating life with lottery riches. She went on to face further scrutiny and judgment for the unconventional way she spent some of her first prize money.

But ultimately, Martinez expressed no regret over her choice. Love drove her to take a risk on Stange when he needed it. Her prize money afforded them both a chance to keep fighting the criminal case and remain together.

Not all lottery tales end happily though. Winning millions can unravel relationships, lead to financial disaster, and cause major legal headaches. Each winner faces unique pitfalls with their windfall.

While Martinez’s story made headlines, it is far from the only case of lottery success leading to problems for winners. For each feel-good story, there are many more cautionary tales. The keys are being prepared for tax burdens, avoiding risky investments, hiring security, and steeling yourself against demands from others.

With wise moves, you can better protect yourself and your relationships. Having a strong team of legal and financial experts is essential. Big lottery wins allow incredible opportunities, but also carry significant risks if not handled properly. Proper planning goes a long way.

For those who beat the immense odds and hit the jackpot, keeping perspective is vital. Spreading the wealth around can have mixed results. Proceed with caution, even when sharing with loved ones. And never forget – money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly create new and complex problems.


Martinez’s choice to bail out her troubled boyfriend highlighted the immense life-changing power of a lottery win. Her prize money granted them more time together as he fought serious charges. While controversial, it showed her devotion and willingness to leverage that wealth to help a loved one in need. However, the complex legal troubles, strained relationships, and demands on winners illustrate that a massive lottery prize has many downsides to navigate as well. Winning millions brings huge risks and pitfalls, despite the fairy tale mystique. With careful steps, financial caution, and setting boundaries with others, lottery winners have better odds of living happily ever after.