Have you ever wondered why millions of Americans are secretly addicted to playing the lottery? Even if the chances of anyone actually winning are 1 in 175,223,510? Many of us know at least one person whose religiously dedicated to winning the almighty jackpot–even if they’re aware of the extremely slim odds. Maybe it’s the mere idea of receiving a life changing amount of money which serves as the motivation for them to spend their personal cash, to potentially win more. The fantasy of winning has grown so that many would spend their last dollar purchasing a ticket, rather than saving for a rainy day.
So what would you do if you were that lucky 1 in 175 million who picked a winning ticket and became the sudden inheritor of untold millions? Perhaps a brand new car, fancy new house and lavish vacations; or even providing your family the life you’ve always dreamed of. That is the hopeful thinking many past winners had before their lives were completely rearranged with issues surrounding their new found riches. Many forget about the impact their win will have on those they love most; threats from friends and strangers, robbery and the classic distant relatives appearing out of the woodwork. Check out our list of the 10 most unlucky lottery winners whose millions tragically changed their lives forever. Seems to us like the old saying, “Money won’t make you happy”, should be changed to, “Winning the lotto won’t make you happy”.
10. Urooj Khan, $1 million
46-year-old Chicago native Urooj Khan had sworn off lottery tickets, yet took one last try at the lotto and actually won in June 2012. Khan decided to accept one lump sum instead of receiving his earnings in payments, and was awaiting his check when tragedy struck. After the check was sent on July 19, 2012, Khan mysteriously passed away the very next day. Medical examiners determined his death was due to natural causes, finding no trace of foul play. But when a relative urged the police to conduct further investigation and testing, it was discovered that Khan had actually ingested cyanide, a lethal poison. The bitter white powder which can kill a person in minutes was reason to change the case to a homicide investigation which is still open today.
9. Callie Rogers, $3 million
Many 16 year old girls are too busy with school, boys and arguing with parents to even think of playing the lottery. But Callie Rogers knew she would win one day, and her luck paid off when she won £1.9 million (3 million U.S) in her UK hometown. Callie naively began spending her money on everything she could think of; clothes, parties, vacations, breast implants…oh and the good old cocaine addiction. Nearly six years later, Callie was broke and in debt- she attempted to take her own life twice. After recovering from her traumatic experience, she took a job as a made to support herself and her two children. Poor girl.
8. Evelyn Adams, $5.4 million
Evelyn Adams was a very rare case in lottery winning history. She was fortunate enough to win the jackpot twice, earning a total of $5.4 million in 1985 and 1986. But the ever so classic gambling addiction began to kick in as soon as Adams cashed in her earnings- and Atlantic City became her second home. After a series of unfortunate investments and a losing streak at the casino, Evelyn found herself extremely broke and living in a trailer park.
7. Alex and Rhoda Toth, $13 million
1990 was the year that married couple Alex and Rhoda Toth chose their $13 million lotto ticket. As they opted to receive $666,666 a year for 20 years, things seemed to be going extremely well for the newly wealthy couple. After a spending spree in Las Vegas, the couple returned to their home state of Florida to purchase a new home and plenty of land. But 16 years later, they were officially broke! Alex was arrested numerous times for growing marijuana plants and writing bad checks. A couple of legal troubles later, and they were down to living in a tiny trailer on a half-acre of land (their only source of electricity was a wire connected from their cars engine to the trailer). In 2006 they were caught for tax evasion, and sadly Alex passed away while awaiting trial.
6. Michael Carroll, $15 million
One of the youngest lottery winners ever, UK born Michael Carroll won won his fortune at the age of 19 – which many would feel is an extremely young age to become an instant millionaire. Carroll (who was a garbageman before) began using his fortune on his family, purchasing them new homes and gifts.
He later began to blow money on his serious addictions to crack cocaine, gambling and prostitutes-at least four women a day. Fast forward to eight years later, and Michael is back to hauling trash as a garbageman, which he says he is happier because of his journey. Highly doubt it.
5. William Post, $16.2 million
The year was 1988, and the $16.2 million jackpot was won by Mr. William Post of Pennsylvania. But Post was not so bright when it came to his spending habits and money management. Two weeks after he received his first annual payment of 500,000, he had already purchased a restaurant, a used-car lot, and an airplane..Yes you read that correctly. And within three months he was half a million dollars in debt, but seemed to have bigger problems than his spending issues. Posts brother was arrested for hiring a hitman to kill him and his sixth wife…you also read that correctly. His landlady convinced the naive Post to hand over a third of his earnings, while is family convinced him to invest in horrible business ventures. After facing a jail stint for firing his gun at a bill collector, William eventually filed for bankruptcy. “Everybody dreams of winning money, but nobody realizes the nightmares that come out of the woodwork, or the problems,” Post said in 1993, according to the Washington Post.
4. Janite Lee, $18 million
Janite Lee was an immigrant from South Korea who worked at a wig shop before she hit the Illinois lottery in 1993. However she was a different type of winner, as she wanted to spend her money on something other than herself. After she moved her family into a million dollar gated community, she spent her $620,000 a year earnings on many philanthropic efforts. She contributed a lot of money into political parties, which found her dining with Bill Clinton and Al Gore. She also donated to the education system, which earned her name on a reading room at Washington University School Of Law. Looks like not everyone goes crazy once they win! However, Lee later sold the rights to her annual lottery lump sum payment plan, and less than a decade later, she was in bankruptcy court. Lee mismanaged her money, and in 2001 she filed for Chapter 7 with less than $800 dollars to her name- and more than $2.5 million in debt!
3. Jeffrey Dampier, $20 million
When Jeffrey Dampier won the lotto in 1996, he pledged to use the money to bring his family closer together, relocating his parents and family to his newly purchased Florida estate. He then invested his earnings into a gourmet popcorn store in Tampa, and employed some of his family members to work there. Tragedy struck in 2005, when Jeffrey was called by his his sister-in-law Victoria Jackson to come over to her house and help with car trouble. When he arrived to the home, Jeffrey was confronted by Victoria and her boyfriend Nathaniel, who used a pistol to force him back into the car, ultimately kidnapping him. They tied his hands with his shoelaces, and drove him to a dead-end street where Nathaniel gave Victoria the gun and told her to shoot Dampier, or he would. After Victoria pulled the trigger and killed Dampier, the couple ran away on foot. They were soon caught, seeing as Dampier was last heard from telling his family he was headed to see Victoria. The couple was arrested three days later and both convicted of murder. Victoria Jackson received three life sentences in September 2006, and Nathaniel Jackson received life in 2007.
2. Billie Bob Harrell Jr., $31 million
Billie Bob was a Pentecostal preacher working as a bag boy in Home Depot before he won a staggering $31 million in 1997. Upon winning, Billie spent modestly, purchasing a new home and car, but nothing out of the ordinary. The trouble began when the preacher began loaning out money to his newly discovered friends and family who claimed they needed help. Not even two years later, Billie Bob found himself completely broke, because surprisingly no one paid him the money back as they had promised to do (shocker). When he and his wife Barbara separated due to the stress and financial woes, Harrell couldn’t handle the world any longer. He ended up committing suicide 20 months after his big win.
1. Jack Whittaker, $315 million
When Jack Whittaker won the Powerball in 2002, he went down as the man who one the largest jackpot by a single ticket–a total of $315 million! The 55 year old West Virginia native owned Diversified Enterprises Construction, and was already worth a reported $17 million before his big win. After winning, the devout religious man gave 10 % of his winnings to Christian charities, and used 14 million to create the Jack Whittaker foundation-not sure why he used his own name. The woman who was working the counter when he purchased the ticket was showered with gifts as well; he bought her a $123,000 house, a new Dodge Ram Truck, and gave her $50,000 cash.
Soon after his record-breaking when, trouble began to surround Jack in all ways. Less than a year after winning, a couple of thieves broke into Jack’s car while it was parked at a strip club, and got away with $545,000 in cash which Whittaker carried around in a suitcase. Why have all that cash in one place? We’re still asking the same question. Soon after, two managers of the exact same strip club he was first robbed, were arrested for conspiring to slip drugs into Jack’s drink and then rob him. It seems as if Jack would have learned his lesson of how much cash to carry around, but he didn’t. In January of 2004, Jack’s car was once again robbed, this time the thieves managed to take another $200 thousand, which was eventually recovered by the police.
Months later 18 year old Jessie Tribble, who was the boyfriend of Jack’s granddaughter Brandi, was found dead in Whittaker’s West Virginia home. The coroner’s determined that Jessie had died of an overdose on a combination of oxycodone, methadone, meperidine, and cocaine. Only three months later, his own granddaughter Brandi had suffered the same fate as she was found dead at the house of a male friend after being reported missing for a week. Her body was found wrapped in a plastic tarpaulin and dumped behind an abandoned van, yet no one was charged with murder-she also suffered an overdose. Jack was completely devastated after the death of Brandi, whom he had practically raised since birth. “I wish I’d torn that ticket up,” he told reporters at the time.
Sadly the hard and devastating times were far from over for Jack, as he was sued by Caesars Atlantic City casino for bouncing $1.5 million in checks to cover his gambling losses. As he was battling the lawsuit with his very own counter suit, his own daughter Ginger (mother of Brandi) was found dead in Daniels, West Virginia. While foul play was not involved, the actual cause of death is still a mystery. Today, it is said that Jack still lives in West Virginia, but is completely broke. $315 million down the drain.