Cox said she and her husband, John, decided on Nov. 17 to file for bankruptcy because of losses incurred in his home building business. She had no role in the business but was a co-signer on loans for it.
"The collapse of the home building market has been well documented and small builders, like my husband, have been hit especially hard. This was a gut-wrenching decision, but in the end, we felt that we had no choice," Cox said in a statement through a spokesman, Dana Tofig.
"I want to be clear ... that this filing does not affect my ability to perform the duties of my job as state superintendent of schools," the statement said.
The Coxes filed under Chapter 7 of the federal bankruptcy code. It allows debtors to keep and continue paying for some assets, such as homes and cars, while other assets are liquidated to pay creditors.
In paperwork filed last week the couple listed $3.5 million in liabilities and $649,728 in assets.
In the summer, Cox won $1 million on the game show "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?" and donated the winnings to the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf in Clarkston, the Georgia School for the Deaf in northwest Georgia and to the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon.
Tofig said Cox will honor the plan to donate the TV winnings and has already set up a gift foundation to handle the money. He said he wasn't sure if the money had already been sent to the schools, but that it would be distributed no later than next month.
Cox drew about $108,600 in salary through Nov. 17.