A $180 Million Lotto Winner’s Massive Mountain Estate” was the headline in the Wall Street Journal’s “Real Estate” section. The photo above the headline really did look to be many millions of dollars’ worth of breathtaking. The panorama behind the stone-and-brick estate, perched on a California mountainside, provided an unobstructed 180-degree view of the valley far below. The lush landscaping around the mansion’s acreage was the very definition of “pristine” (literally, since the forest of trees was definitely newly-planted, lottery-winner style).

The surprise for Twin Cities readers is that the article was not another expected retelling about a big lottery winner who lost it all. The former roofing company employee and Mega Millions winner was not, in fact, wallowing in debt and crushed relationships. In fact, the story was about accomplishing the kind of real estate coup that usually plays out only in daydreams.  

Rick Knudsen used to look up from the front porch of his 4-bedroom home to view the progress of an enormous house being constructed on the side of distant Little San Gorgonio mountain. Then he bought the lottery ticket, won, retired, and plunked down $5.5 million for the not-yet-completed mansion. Then, “just bam bam bam…within three months, I owned it all,” he says, recounting how he added an adjoining 155-acre buffalo ranch and its accompanying steakhouse and saloon; then (why not?) another 640-acre parcel. And a home for each of his 5 kids.

The best part of this lottery/real estate story lies not with the details of the 16,000 square feet of living space in the new digs, nor the elevator, car collector’s garage, gym, wine cellar, the 5 ½ mile hiking and driving trail, stocked fishing pond, nor the 17-seat movie theater. It’s not in how the 45 grass-and-apple fed buffalo are served at the steakhouse, nor that, all in, he spent just $11.5 million for the entire domain—purchases all “driven by feeling” rather than investment returns.

The best part might be that he hooked up with the right financial manager, so he’s worth more today than when he won the lottery. Or it might be what comprises a second, less luck-driven windfall, since he’s just listed the entire assemblage for a not unrealistic $26 million. The reason he’s selling? Because assembling the domain was so much fun, he’s eager to tackle another challenge.

If you are ready to open the book on your own Twin Cities real estate story, luck doesn’t need to play a leading role. Just give RE/MAX Preferred a call!