Money isn’t always the answer to all of life’s problems. In fact, sometimes money can create even more problems – as, it seems, is too often the case for lottery winners. It’s not uncommon for lottery winners to end up with even less than they had before their windfall and sometimes they even end up with nothing at all.
Why is this? One of the main reasons is a lack of financial planning and foolhardy spending habits linked to an inability to manage such enormous and unexpected spending power. Sometimes, lottery winners make the mistake of thinking they have more than they actually have; many countries tax lotto wins and gambling wins to the hilt. A lottery windfall seems to make some winners feel invincible, despite the fact that the cash is far from limitless. Of course, national lottery foundations offer financial guidance and services for their winners to avoid just such this fate and some lottery winners are impressively responsible with their winnings.
A lottery win has huge power to change people for the better – or for the worse. Some people manage it well, while some even donate a portion of their winnings to a noble cause. Sometimes, lotto winners remain the same humble people they were before. Take Washington state resident Tyrone Curry for example; he kept his job as a school janitor after winning a $3.4 million jackpot. He spent some of his winnings on a new track for the school and paid off his debts, but other than that things pretty much remained the same. On the other extreme, however, many lottery winners lose their way and blow their winnings on exorbitant luxuries and frivolous possessions. Many buy astronomically priced homes, expensive cars, lavish vacations, priceless antiques and collectibles, and costly jewelry.
Here, we’re taking a look at the latter sort. Ever felt painfully envious of those jackpot winners? Then you’ll likely experience some schadenfreude in the stories of these ten lottery winners who ended up broke, or worse.
10. Callie Rogers
At 16, Callie was the youngest person ever to win the lottery in the United Kingdom, and her inexperience was sadly evident in the way she managed her money. Today she has nowhere near the 1.9 million pounds she was awarded in 2003 when she was just 16 years old. She blew the money on plastic surgery, drugs and parties. Now 26, Rogers says she is much happier, and is studying nursing. Her wealth drove her to despair, she has since reported, and at her lowest point she even attempted suicide. As of last year her net worth totalled no more than 2,000 pounds.
9. Lisa Arcand
Lisa Arcand won $1 million in 2003 – certainly not the biggest windfall, but enough to change a responsible person’s life for the better. She used the money to buy things most lotto winners buy like a house and some vacations, but she also used it to jump start her business dream of opening her own restaurant. Opening a really successful restaurant is almost as unlikely as winning the lottery, however, and her seafood shop went belly up after she fell behind on her bills.
8. Lou Eisenberg
When Eisenberg won $5 million back in 1981 it was the biggest lottery payout at the time. He went from making $250 a week changing light bulbs to being a multimillionaire overnight. Today he’s making about $250 a week again through his pension and social security; he’s also living in a trailer. Where did all his money go? Well, he spent a lot, but the real reason he went from rich to broke is a string of failed marriages and divorce settlements. His days at the track betting didn’t help either.
7. Lara and Robert Griffith
Everything seemed to go wrong for this couple after they won 1.8 million pounds in the lottery. It wasn’t just their bank accounts that were in shambles; their marriage was in shambles, too. The couple bought a fancy new house, but that ended up being gutted by a fire. Lara bought designer handbags and Robert blew money on a Porsche. Then one day Robert’s Porsche was missing and he was gone, too. He had left his wife after she accused him of infidelity. He now, reportedly, has 7 pounds to his name and is taking handouts from his parents.
6. Sharon Tirabassi
After winning more than $10 million Cdn, Tirabassi is back renting a home and working part time to support her kids. Now she lives paycheck to paycheck. She grew up moving from shelter to shelter so Tirabassi wasn’t accustomed to having such a large sum of money, and she mismanaged it spectacularly. One of her more frivolous purchases was a decked-out Cadillac Escalade complete with turntables and subwoofers, which reportedly cost more that $200,000 Cdn.
5. Suzanne Mullins
In 2004 Mullins won winning $4.2 million. 11 years earlier, Virginia resident Suzanne Mullins was not only broke but badly in debt. She owed more than $150,000 to a Florida company that gave her a loan by using her future winnings as collateral. At the time of her win the law prevented her from collecting a lump sum payment on her winnings; tragically, too, her son fell sick and she had $1 million in medical bills.
4. Willie Hurt
In 1991, two years after winning a Lottery jackpot totaling $3.1 million, Willie Hurt was broke and jonesing for a fix. He had accepted annual lottery payments of about $156,000 over 20 years and used this money to buy drugs. He developed an addiction to crack cocaine, went through a messy divorce and was even charged with murder.
3. Gerald Muswagon
After winning $10 million Cdn most people would expect their lives to change, not to end. But that’s the fate that befell Winnipeg native Gerald Muswagon: After winning the lottery in 1998, he bought a house for drug use and partying, and he bought his friends and family TVs and cars. After starting a logging business, which failed, Muswagon faced numerous run-ins with the law and served jail time for dangerous driving and sexual assault. He ended up spending all his money and went back to a minimum wage job to support his six children. In 2005, he tragically hanged himself in his parent’s garage.
2. Michael Carroll
Even the sound financial practice of setting up an investment bond couldn’t save Carroll from going broke. Before winning nearly 10 million pounds in the UK National Lottery, Carroll worked as a garbage collector. After he won the lotto at just 19 years old he was dubbed the “King of Chavs” by British media. He took the name in his stride and even plastered it on the back of his Mercedes van. After blowing most of his winnings on drugs, parties, jewelry and cars, he had to start withdrawing from the nearly 4 million pound investment bond he set up. He faced heavy withdrawal fees and by 2010 he was broke and reapplied to his old job as a garbage man. He now earns 204 pounds a week working in a biscuit factory in Scotland.
1. David Lee Edwards
After spending a good portion of his life in jail after he robbed a gas station, David Lee Edward’s luck changed when he won $27 million in a powerball jackpot in 2001. His luck went back to the bad not long after, though. He blew his money on drugs, exotic sports cars and even a jet. Just five years later, the money was all gone. His daughter believes all the lavish items he bought were eventually sold off to buy more drugs and pay off his debts. Edwards died broke and alone; he was cremated because his estranged family couldn’t afford to bury him.