After South Dakota cowboy Neal Wanless won a $232.1 million Powerball jackpot in 2009, he spent some of the winnings on a roughly 50,000-acre ranch north of Rapid City. Now he has sold that ranch for $37 million, more than double what he paid, according to listing agent Robb Nelson of Hall and Hall.
Mr. Nelson said to his knowledge, it is the most expensive ranch ever sold in the state. Previously, the record was held by the $32.4 million sale of the Triple U Ranch, which was featured in the movie “Dances with Wolves.” That property was purchased in 2015 by a company tied to media mogul and major American landowner Ted Turner, Mr. Nelson said.
Mr. Wanless listed the ranch in September 2020, asking $41.15 million. The price was later lowered to $37.5 million, Mr. Nelson said. He said the buyer is the Kansas-based farm and ranching outfit J-Six South Dakota Land Holdings, which is headed by Daniel E. Gerety II, corporation records show.
Neither Mr. Wanless nor Mr. Gerety could immediately be reached for comment.
The ranch is named Bismarck Ranch after a trail used during the Black Hills gold rush. With rolling hills, grazing pastures and a river, it includes roughly 42,000 deeded acres, about 4,000 acres of land leased for grazing from the Bureau of Land Management and about 1,600 acres leased from the state. In 2020, Mr. Wanless said he was leasing much of the land to local ranchers and to BLM, which was running wild horses there.
The property also includes four homes, including two luxury residences. One was built for Mr. Wanless and his wife, Jody Gilson Wanless, and the other was built for Mr. Wanless’s mother. Mr. Wanless’s Western-style personal residence spans about 6,500 square feet, with five bedrooms as well as a game room, poker room and screening room. He designed it personally, highlighting his extensive taxidermy collection.
Two other homes on the property were used by ranch hands and guests.
Mr. Wanless previously told the Journal that the couple decided to sell because they were spending more time at his wife’s family’s cattle ranch in Canada, and had purchased a house in Arizona, where they plan to spend the winters.
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Mr. Wanless was 23 when he won the Powerball prize. He told the Journal in 2020 that winning the lottery had only furthered his dream of being a rancher.
“I could have retired and done really nothing and sat on my butt and enjoyed it,” he said. “But I love it. Ranching is a hard life, but if you love what you’re doing, it’s an easy life.”
Mr. Nelson said the South Dakota ranch market is as strong as he’s ever seen it, buoyed by a rising interest in rural properties that began amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, the area can be rugged. Mr. Nelson said the closing was delayed by more than a week because of blizzard and white-out conditions in the region. On three separate occasions, the truck delivering the closing paperwork had to turn around because of weather, he said.
“If you can get through a South Dakota winter, you can get through anything,” Mr. Nelson said with a laugh.