Whether you want to believe it or not, money is the most important thing in the world, seeing as we require it in order to acquire and maintain most of the things that we need to survive. This statement should come as no surprise, considering that people need money to provide important things such as shelter, food and medication if needed, and we also need money to buy all sorts of trivial things, like electronics, furniture and brand name clothing. The quality, quantity, and overall price of goods that are bought, depend heavily on what a person’s economic standing is, seeing as those who make minimum-wage cannot afford most of the things that millionaires can, which is why most people dream of becoming millionaires, and why things like the lottery exist.
There are several forms of lotteries, but the most widely played is the one which requires the numbers on your ticket to match the series of random numbers that are drawn by a machine within the lottery’s headquarters. The reason why these kinds of lotteries are played by so many people is because they generally offer the biggest jackpots, jackpots which are usually above the $1 million mark. Depending on where you live, the odds of actually winning the lottery are extremely slim, as odds can range anywhere from 1 in 14 million to 1 in 290 million, which makes those who actually win the lottery some of the luckiest individuals on the planet.
Becoming an instant millionaire via the lottery may be viewed by some as a miracle, but in many cases, those who win tend to enjoy their wealth for only a brief period of time, as spending choices usually cause people to lose all, if not most of their winnings. Here are 15 lottery winners who were too stupid to remain millionaires.
15. Lisa Arcand
From time to time, we are asked what we would do if we won a million dollars, and in virtually every case, people would say that they would buy an expensive house and car, and probably travel the world; which is basically what Lisa Arcand did after she won $1 million in 2004 in the Massachusetts lottery. Arcand went on to use her winnings to buy a boat-load of new furniture, as well as a big new house to put it all in, and she chose to enroll her son in an expensive private school; and she also decided to use this money to go on several vacations. The problem with this though is the fact that after taxes, $1 million is not really a sum you can live off of the rest of your life if you spend a lot of it early, and Arcand realized this, which is why she bought a restaurant in order to make additional income. The restaurant ended up being a failure, and by 2007 she was bankrupt, and when asked later how it felt to have won the lottery, she said that the experience was actually fairly depressing.
14. Denise Rossi
Marriage is supposed to be a sacred union between two individuals who claim to be in love with one another, and although divorce rates are high, there are still many examples of couples who are able to work through their differences and problems to live long and happy lives together. In some cases though, couples who appear to be happily married, abruptly get divorced, and in Denise Rossi’s case she suddenly asked for a divorce from her husband of 25 years in 1996 after discovering that she won the lottery. Rossi won $1.3 million in the California lottery, When she learned of her win, she filed for divorce and urged that the proceedings be over with quickly so that she did not have to share any of her winnings with her then husband; but that was not the last time she would need a lawyer though, as her ex-husband eventually learned of her winning ticket, and took her to court over it. This case was ultimately settled in 1999, where a judge deemed that Rossi violated asset disclosure laws and awarded her ex-husband all of her winnings as a result.
13. Marva Wilson
We grow up with the belief that our friends will always be there for us through thick and thin, and even though that is usually the case, there are times when the people who we thought were our friends betray us in terrible ways; which is something Marva Wilson learned the hard way. In 2012, she won $2 million in the Missouri lottery, and after Wilson collected that money, her “friend” Freya Pearson managed to convince her to give her unrestricted access to her bank account, which is something no one else should ever have access to, no matter if you win the lottery or not. With this access, Pearson used Wilson’s money in order to pay for an apartment, several cars and vacations, and she also used it to fund her gambling habits. When everything was all said and done, Pearson spent more than $640,000 of Wilson’s winnings, which contributed heavily to Wilson going broke only two years after winning the lottery.
12. Willie Hurt
Money is supposed to make your life better, at least that is what people say, but sometimes it does not have any sort of positive affect whatsoever, as evidenced by Willie Hurt when he won the lottery in 1989. Hurt won $3.1 million in the Michigan lottery, but instead of using this money to provide a happier life for his wife and kids, things just went drastically downhill to the point that he ran out of money in two years. After winning this money, Hurt ended up ruining his marriage and got divorced while losing custody of his children as well; and if that was not enough, he was also arrested and charged with attempted murder. Hurt managed to spend much of his money on the legal fees associated with his divorce and arrest, while spending the rest on drugs, which is undeniably the worst thing you can spend your money on, especially when you have a lot of it to spend.
11. Callie Rogers
When we were teenagers, all we wanted to do was goof off and have fun, which is why adults never expect that much from teenagers in terms of responsibility, and why they do not really trust them with money, and for good reason too, because as Callie Rogers demonstrated, teenagers are terrible with money. Rogers won $2.9 million back in 2003 in the British lottery when she was only sixteen years old, making her the youngest lottery winner in the country’s history, and at the time, she was considered to be far too young to be in control of so much money. As it turns out, Callie did exactly what teenagers do, and she blew a majority of her winnings by paying for parties and drugs; but unlike most teenagers, she also spent the money on cosmetic surgery. Since winning all that money, Callie has been married and had children, and currently only has a few thousand dollars left, and looking back on it, even she admits that she was too young to win the lottery, and that sixteen year olds should not be allowed to participate in it.
10. Suzanne Mullins
A lot of the time when people win the lottery, they decide to receive the entire sum of their winnings all at once, but there are winners who choose the more sensible route and ask to receive their winnings in installments so as to not blow through it too quickly. Installments may be the better choice, but it does not necessarily guarantee that you will not blow away your money, which is something Suzanne Mullins learned all too well. Mullins won $4.2 million in the Virginia lottery in 1993, a jackpot which she shared with her husband, and she decided to receive the money in yearly installments which would see her get close to $50,000 a year over a twenty year period. Despite getting these annual payments though, Mullins did not have enough money to pay for things, so she sought the help of an organization that loans money to lottery winners. When the year 2000 came around, a Virginia law was changed which allowed Mullins to get the remainder of her money all at once; but what she failed to do before spending that money was settle her debts with the loan company. As a result, the courts got involved and forced her to repay the company, leaving her over $150,000 in debt and broke.
9. Martyn & Kay Tott
With this entry we have Martyn and Kay Tott, a British married couple who did something so stupid that the argument can be made that they deserve to be in the number one spot on this list, a spot which would have been theirs had they won an even bigger jackpot. While watching TV, this couple saw the lottery numbers come up on the screen and realized that they had just won the $5 million jackpot, which unsurprisingly made them very happy, but despite the fact that they won the money, they still managed to lose it all before ever seeing a single penny of it. As it turns out, they for some reason waited to cash-in their ticket, and when they finally decided to do so, they could not find it, and so they went to the lottery offices to explain what happened, the officials there agreed that they did in fact purchase the winning ticket, but unfortunately for the Totts, they missed the thirty day deadline given by the lottery to report any lost winning tickets.
8. Evelyn Adams
For anyone who plays the lottery, you know full well going in that the odds of you winning are extremely slim, in fact a person has better odds of being struck by lightning than winning the lottery; but just like there are cases of people being hit by lightning more than once, a single person can win the lottery more than once as well. Evelyn Adams was lucky enough to win the New Jersey lottery twice in the span of one year, in both 2005 and 2006, and the combined totals of both these wins equalled about $5.4 million; but despite being so lucky, Evelyn was broke by the time 2007 came around. She made several bad investments, and spent way too much on gifts for her family, but most of her winnings were spent on her gambling addiction, an addiction which likely put smiles on the faces of the casino owners in Atlantic City.
7. Lou Eisenberg
Here we have Lou Eisenberg, who is another example of a person who won the lottery and lost it all even though he agreed to receive his winnings via installments, but a big reason why he lost his lottery money was because he would often just give it away. Eisenberg won $5 million back in 1981, and decided to receive $120,000 every year for twenty years, and he of course used this money on himself, which is why he did things like buy a Florida condo, and go on multiple vacations to Hawaii and Europe. The problem though, was the fact that Eisenberg liked to gamble, but that was not the only money he would give away, as he would also just give money to anyone who he thought was in desperate need of it; and it was these sorts of giveaways that left him broke and living off $1,000 social security checks in a mobile home. No one says not to give back and help those who are less fortunate than you, but that does not mean you should just dish out money like an ATM.
6. Gerald Muswagon
The people of Canada are an interesting bunch, what with their love of hockey and Tim Hortons coffee, and their tendency to be apologetic and polite, but they too have lottery winners who manage to lose all their winnings. Gerald Muswagon was a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, who in 1998 won a $10 million jackpot, but he was more interested in using his winnings on trivial objects and partying rather than improving the lives of his girlfriend and children. Muswagon used his money to buy cars and other expensive things for his friends and family, but most of his money was spent on a brand new house which was specifically designed to host extravagant parties. These parties drained his bank account very quickly, to the point that he had to find a minimum-wage job just so he could support his family which included six children; and wasting all that money led to such depression, that he ultimately took his own life in 2005.
5. Sharon Tirabassi
We return to Canada with this entry with Sharon Tirabassi, a native of Hamilton, Ontario who in 2004 won a $10.5 million jackpot, and by 2008, she had blown through so much money that she had to get a part-time job in order to help support her kids. After winning the money, Tirabassi paid for her friends to go on various vacations to places like Cancun, Las Vegas and the Caribbean, and she went on to buy some needlessly expensive things for herself as well, including a house with a price tag of over $500,000 and multiple cars, which included one that cost her over $200,000. Thanks to purchases like these, and the fact that she handed out millions of dollars to her friends and family, it is no wonder that more than half of her winnings were gone by 2007; but at least she thought about her children’s futures enough to give them each a secured non-accessible trust fund.
4. Michael Carroll
With this entry, we find ourselves again venturing across the pond to England, where we have Michael Carroll, a man who was fortunate to win the lottery while still being on probation after being released from prison. This former garbage man won $14.4 million in 2002 when he was only 19 years old, and as we saw earlier on this list, teenagers who win the lottery do not hang on to their money for very long. Carroll managed to blow through his winnings with incredible speed, as he wasted money on a mansion, parties, expensive jewelry, various drugs, and “dancers”. It did not even take ten years for Carroll to run out of money, and when he did, he had to find a minimum-wage job on a factory assembly line just so he could make ends meet, which literally meant that he went from having a seemingly unlimited amount of money, to living off of $300 a week.
3. Janite Lee
Earlier on this list, it was pointed out that people can be as generous as they want with their money in regards to helping the less fortunate, as long as they do not end up bankrupting themselves in the process, but Janite Lee did not see things that way. Lee won her $18 million jackpot in 1993, and over an eight-year span, she developed a gambling addiction which saw her lose at least $300,000 a year, but surprisingly, most of her winnings were lost as a result of her generosity. Over those eight years, Lee also donated millions of dollars to various charities which was an incredibly kind and selfless thing to do, but she also gave millions to political campaigns, which depending on your outlook, may have been a bigger waste of her money than gambling was. Lee may have indeed been generous with her winnings, but it was thanks to her extraordinary level of generosity, that she was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2001.
2. Billie Bob Harrell Jr
Billie Bob Harrell Jr was a Texas preacher who happened to also work at Home Depot, and in 1997, his prayers were seemingly heard as he won a $31 million jackpot, giving him the biggest single jackpot of anyone else on this list. After winning the lottery, Harrell used the money to buy a ranch as well as six additional residences, and several new cars; and he also went on to make a sizable donation to his church. A large percentage of his winnings went towards his “friends” though, as Harrell had the nasty tendency of lending money to anyone who asked him for some, which is probably one of the stupidest things you can let yourself do if you win the lottery. Thanks to the purchases he made, and the obscene amount of money he handed out to people, Harrell ran out of money by 1999, and his wife ended up leaving him because of it, and as a result of the depression that followed, he took his own life.
1. David Lee Edwards
This list has shown individuals who have gone on huge spending sprees after winning the lottery, but David Lee Edwards went on such a massive spree, that he rightfully belongs here at the number one spot. Edwards was a part of a group of four people in 2001 who won a Powerball jackpot of $280 million, and as a result, he himself ended up making $27 million after taxes, and after just one year, he managed to spend nearly half of all his winnings. In that year, he bought a house valued at $600,000, a bunch of new cars whose combined costs were over $1 million, an absurd amount of antique medieval weapons which included 200 swords, a watch that cost $78,000, a personal jet which had a price tag of $1.9 million; and a fiber-optics company valued at $4.5 million. This level of spending may have not continued, but for the next four years, Edwards continued to frivolously spend his winnings, to the point that when he passed away in 2006, there was virtually no money left.