$232 million Powerball lottery winner from South Dakota lists ranch for sale

Rancher who won jackpot in 2009 will move on from sprawling property he purchased with winnings

By Kate Northrop

VALE, S.D. — A South Dakota rancher who won a $232 Powerball jackpot in 2009 is selling the sprawling near-50,000 acre property he purchased with his lottery winnings.

Neal Wanless, then 23 years old, lived up to his reputation as a young and ambitious cowboy after buying and amassing an extensive working ranch with his Powerball winnings. He originally took home a lump sum prize of $88.5 million after taxes were deducted.

Eleven years later, the Bismarck Trail Ranch is listed for sale with Hall & Hall for $41.15 million.

After purchasing the ranch in 2009, Wanless made a number of improvements, which are included in the listing. The ranch boasts four custom homes, numerous working facilities and Morton outbuildings, new equestrian amenities, and space for thousands of cows and wild horses to roam.

“The main improvements are immaculate, very well built, and well maintained,” said Robb Nelson, the broker of the property said. “You can clearly see the pride in ownership that the seller has had!”

Listing agents remarked that Wanless is selling the ranch to be able to spend more time with his in-laws at their cattle ranch in Canada.

The Powerball winner didn’t always have financial security and a stable work-life. Before Wanless had scooped the jackpot, which was one of the largest undivided prizes in U.S. history at the time, he and his family raised cattle, sheep, and horses on a 320-acre ranch in the nation’s seventh-poorest county (ranked in 2007). They did not own a phone, and a mobile home of their was repossessed a year before they got their lucky break. According to a neighboring farmer, they were just getting by.

“They’ve been real short on finances for a long time,” Dave Assman, a neighboring landowner said. “They are from real meager means, I guess you’d say.”

The family also earned extra cash on the side by selling scrap metal, but that source of income dwindled as the price of iron dropped.

“They work hard, backbreaking hard work,” family friend Cath Vrbka added.

The Bismarck Trail Ranch was the well-deserved home and livelihood of a lottery player who went from rags to riches. Now, someone else will get to enjoy and make use of the stretching land and facilities.

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News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

News story photo(Click to display full-size in gallery)

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