Everyone hopes they will transform their lives into their dream lifestyle with all the luxuries and happiness they ever dreamed of once they win the lottery. Sadly, most people that actually win the lottery don’t exactly retire into a happily ever after. Many people that win the lotto actually finish their winning before accomplishing anything significant and some have been forced to go back to a 9 to 5 or worse. So, winning the lottery may be a great thing, but only if you are smart about the way you use the money. The excitement that comes with winning a lottery often makes people squander their winnings in the frenzy like these 10.
Jack Whitaker Jr.
Jack Whitaker’s lottery winnings seem to have come with a curse of sorts. His life turned for the worst instead of the opposite after he won $314.9 million Powerball jackpot in 2002, the largest jackpot ever won by a single person in America at that time. After becoming a celebrity, misfortunes started following the businessman starting with his granddaughter’s friend who died of a drug overdose at his house in 2004. His granddaughter followed a year later.
His wife also divorced him shortly after since he had given in to alcoholism and gambling. One night, his car was burglarized and the thieves stole over $500,000 from him. He was also drugged at a strip club and lost a huge sum there as well. In 2016, he lost his home to a fire, after his daughter died of cancer in 2009. He died in 2020 after confessing in an interview that people only remembered him as the lunatic that won the lottery.
Winning the lottery is awesome, but it isn’t enough to divorce your husband of 25 years. Denise won the lottery in Dec 1996, after pooling money with her coworkers to buy the tickets for the California state lottery. The total winning was $6.6 million, and her share was $1.3 which she didn’t want to share with her husband. She divorced Thomas Rossi 11 days later without telling him about her winnings.
Over two years later, her now ex-husband came across a letter from a solicitor that claimed they could help him get a lump sum payment of all their annual lottery payments. He was surprised because he didn’t know about any lottery winnings. Turns out, failure to disclose assets during divorce is a crime and the judge ruled in favour of Mr Thomas giving him a huge chunk of Denise’s money leaving her single and broke.
Alex and Rhoda Toth
Alex and Rhoda won $13 million in the Florida state lottery in 1990 but they were compulsive gamblers and both of them had drug abuse problems and as we have seen before, that never ends well. They ran out of cash in no time and soon lost all the fancy things they bought with the early payments they received. In 1999, they were bankrupt and in deep debt, so they auctioned off their lotto annuities to bail themselves out. It didn’t help though and by 2000, the feds were on their necks for filing fake tax returns. Alex had had many brushes with the authorities after receiving the windfall and also multiple car accidents. He was suffering from many health problems too and he finally died in April 2006 while awaiting trial for failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes. Rhoda served time in jail for similar crimes and had to move in with her son because there was no money by the time she got out.
Winning the lottery in your teenage years is especially worse because most of the things you spend on aren’t that important. Carroll won £10 million in 2002 after buying a ticket using his last £4. He was with his pregnant wife at the time but he was only 19 and didn’t care much about that. He spent most of his money on cocaine and hookers, claiming to have slept with over 4,000 women during his short period of riches. He also hosted demolition parties in his backyard destroying cars for fun and throwing huge loud parties that annoyed his neighbours. He appeared in court over 30 times in the year after he won the lottery. His lifestyle caused his wife to divorce him. He is now broke and was forced to settle for £204 a week job at a cookie factory as well as delivering wood and coal for £10 an hour to make ends meet.
When you win the lottery two consecutive years, you can’t be called anything short of the luckiest woman in the world. She won the Michigan lottery in 1985 and 1986, totalling over $5 million. She wasn’t ready for these winnings though and after giving some of it away to family and friends, she tried investing in business deals but most of them failed. She then went to Atlantic City where she blew the rest of her fortune at the tables after getting addicted to gambling.
$2.6 million is not exactly enough to set you up for life, especially when you win it at 16, but it sure is enough to get you out of your parents’ house and off welfare checks. Callie Rogers became Britain’s youngest lottery winner in 2003. She was in foster care at the time doing a $6.5 an hour job when she won the money. She immediately went on a shopping spree, getting expensive breast implants and a plastic surgery, buying fast cars and partying She spent over a quarter million pounds on cocaine. Now she is back in her parents’ house living off welfare checks.
Lee won an $18 million jackpot of the Illinois lottery in 1993 and chose to receive annual $620, 000 payments rather than a lump sum. At 52, you would expect her to make better financial decisions than a 16-year-old but she didn’t. She moved her family to an expensive home in St. Louis and then started donating big sums to the Democratic party and also in South Korea, her country of birth. She also developed a taste for expensive jewellery, art and clothing and that led her down the wrong path.
She even booked dinners with the presidents of the respective countries in the early years of winning her lottery. However, $18 million isn’t enough if you are sharing it with the whole world and she was forced to sell off all rights to her future payments after accumulating too much debt. In 2001, she had only $700 left in her bank account and was forced to file for bankruptcy.
William “Bud” Post
Bud Post won $16.2 million in 1988 but in 1996, he said in an interview that he wished he had stayed poor as he was before he won the lottery. He bought the tickets using $40 he got after pawning a ring. However, he had his then landlady and girlfriend buy the tickets for him and when he won, she sued him saying they had agreed to share the winnings causing the judge to allocate a third of the winnings to her. He also had to pay alimony in six different divorces as well as millions in legal fees because of the many court appearances that accompanied his new lifestyle. He died in 2006 after accumulating a $1 million debt even after auctioning off all of his lottery payments. Oh, and his brother tried to get him assassinated even after he spent lots of money in winnings to help him start a business.
David Lee Edwards
The good part about the lottery is that it doesn’t discriminate, and everyone, including ex-cons, can play. Lee Edwards had spent a better part of his life in prison before he won $27 million from $7 worth of Powerball tickets. His first mistake was choosing to take a lump sum which meant he only got less in payouts.
He blew over $12 million in the first year after buying a private jet with a pilot and a mansion in Palm Beach which allegedly had so many cars that neighbours complained that it looked like a car dealership. Edwards also spent lavishly on antique weapons including medieval swords and shields. He gambled the rest of his fortune and used the rest on drugs and within 5 years, he was penniless and living in a storage unit. He died just 12 years after winning the windfall, lonely and penniless.
Now, $1 million may not be enough to transform your life that much but it sure is enough to get you off food stamps. Amanda won the amount in the Michigan Lottery’s Make Me Rich game payout in 2011. However, even after buying two houses, and getting a job for four months at one point, she continued taking food stamps and the locals weren’t so happy when a news outlet told her story. She was charged with welfare fraud and forced to repay $5,500 for the food stamps she had used after winning the money. She died of a drug overdose within a year of winning the lottery too, which was a sad end for the single mother.