CA state income tax is usually withheld from the prize money, but it's not a huge percentage. Federal income tax, however, is close to 50 percent, and may or may not be immediately withheld (if not, it'll be due come April). So that leaves her with about $25K. With her credit and lack of a steady job -- and lack of employability -- that doesn't translate to a down payment on a home. Not in LA at least.