March 2, 2000
Vol. 19 No. 11

current issue
archive / search

    Education comes first for M.B.A. student who won $1.7 million

    By Laurie B. Davis
    News Office

    These days, one of the most frequent questions people ask Lt. David Legler is “Why are you still here?”

    Most people who win more than $1 million in one week might be expected to dramatically change their lifestyles overnight, but Legler will finish his service with the U.S. Navy as a recruiter at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in North Chicago and continue his education as an M.B.A. student in the University’s Graduate School of Business.

    The 29-year-old Legler played his last round of the NBC-TV game show Twenty-One on Wednesday, Feb. 16, and walked away with $1.7 million, making him the richest TV game show contestant in the history of television.

    While Legler has an obligation to the U.S. Navy until November, it is his dedication to learning that will keep him in his classes at the GSB’s downtown campus at the Gleacher Center. “That’s one thing I don’t ever plan to stop doing,” he said. “At this time, I’m going to slow down and take it at the normal pace. I will probably finish in about two years.

    “I had intended to go into consulting after completing my M.B.A., but I’m going to take it slow, and I’ll see what interests me. I’ll know when I find what I want to do,” he said.

    Legler, who has an undergraduate degree in engineering, said the basic economics courses he already has completed should serve as a good foundation for the investment decisions he will make following his recent good fortune. He said he also is considering taking a portfolio course.

    “I’m not really taking any finance courses right now, but it’s one of my intended concentrations.” Legler said finance and entrepreneurship, as well as strategic management and marketing, also are areas that interest him.

    “I’ll have an investments course next quarter,” said Legler, who currently is taking courses in statistics and management with GSB professors Michael Parzen (Associate Professor), Robert Topel (the Isidore Brown & Gladys J. Brown Professor in Urban & Labor Economics) and Daniel Adelman (Assistant Professor).

    While Legler said he has received some investment advice, he added that none of his professors or fellow students has made any business proposals. “No one has been that bold, but I’m also not discouraging advice, because some of it is very wise. The suggestions have been more like, ‘here’s something to think about.’”

    How does he feel about being the richest contestant in TV game show history? “It’s unbelievable. I think I had a lot of luck going with me. My dad helped me a lot, too. I don’t think I could recreate it.”

    Besides the financial benefits of winning $1.7 million, Legler has enjoyed some peace of mind as well. “A lot of stress has been lifted,” he added. “If my wife wants to go out shopping, I don’t worry about it.”

    Legler plans to balance spending with saving and investing.

    “I’m going to do a lot of nice things for my family.”

    At the same time, he and his wife will ponder the possibilities of how to invest the money. “We’re going to be smart about it.”