Money doesn’t last forever – a truth that applies even if you happen to have a few million dollars stashed in the bank.
Sounds impossible? You’d be surprised how easy it is to spend millions in just a matter of years, especially if you have no idea what you’re doing or if you make more than a few investment mistakes. Even easier if you happen to obtain those millions through fraud and pyramid schemes and the truth catches up with you.
Here’s the breakdown of how 10 people ( previous net worth amounts included) who once had millions in the bank but now struggle to get by.
10 Jon Gosselin - $4 million (estimated)
The Gosselins earned millions through their reality TV show Jon & Kate Plus 8, which featured the couple’s eight children and their struggles with everyday life. In addition to their multi-million dollar salary, the couple also received numerous freebies through endorsement.
After a successful run, however, the couple announced plans for a divorce, and John left the show and stepped away from the fame. By 2013, he was working as a waiter in Robeson Township, Pennsylvania. He was eventually fired for “blowing off shifts” and is currently unemployed and has an estimated net worth of approximately $10 thousand.
9 Suzanne Mullins - $4.2 million
Another lottery winner who might have been better off never winning, Mullins is proof that money doesn’t make you any wiser.
In 1993, Mullins won $4.2 in the lottery. At the time, lottery winnings in Virginia were paid off in yearly installments, so Mullins decided to use a lending company to get a large upfront payment instead. The company lent Mullins $197,746, which she agreed to pay back using the yearly payments from her winnings. However, things didn’t turn out as expected, and soon after, she stopped making payments.
By then, the Virginia lottery system had changed the rules and Mullins was able to collect the rest of her winnings in a single lump payment – which she promptly spent. Although Mullins says much of her money went to pay off her son-in-law's medical bills (which totaled over $1 million because he had no insurance), she can’t explain what happened to the rest of the money, since Mullins never invested in significant pieces of real estate or other properties.
Oh, and the lender eventually sued Mullins and won, but by then she was broke and unable to pay any of the money back.
8 Evelyn Adams - $5.4 million
This New Jersey resident deserves a very special mention because she was actually a millionaire more than once. That's right: Adams won the lottery twice (in 1985 and 1986), adding up to over $5 million.
In her defense, Adams did take more time than other millionaires in his list to lose it all -- it wasn't until 2001 that she found herself living in a trailer. The reason for it? Adams was a compulsive gambler that lived too close to Atlantic City for her own good.
7 Michael Carroll - $15.8 million
In 2002, Carroll won one of the largest lottery pots ever in the UK: the equivalent to almost $16 million.
Unfortunately, he soon developed a crack cocaine habit -- which cost him about $3,000 a day -- as well as an interest in call girls and prostitutes. He also bought a huge mansion that he almost destroyed by throwing large parties with lots of alcohol and drugs involved.
And he loved pricey cars -- but he also loved running his own "races" on the mansion's grounds. Inevitably, Carroll crashed every car he owned, then went out to buy a new one.
It took less than 10 years for Carroll to spend all of it -- and by 2012 he was living on public assistance and was even arrested for trying to run out of a grocery store without paying for a sandwich.
6 William Post - $16.2 million
There are a lot of stories out there about lottery winners who lost it all, but none is more worthy of a Hollywood movie than the one about William “Bud” Post.
In 1988, Post was working odd jobs as a cook and painter and receiving disability payment when he won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery. According to a story published in Time magazine, his bank account had a mere $2.46 in it at the time of the big win. Plus, he had recently served almost a month in jail for issuing checks with no funds.
So when the big win happened, Post was extremely happy – and he went a little crazy with the money. He spent the first annual payment, which was roughly half a million dollars, in just a few weeks by trying to open a restaurant (paying for a lease and buying a liquor license), purchasing a small plane and investing in a used-car lot. Three months after receiving the $500,000, he was half a million dollars in debt.
He lived a moderate lifestyle until he received the following yearly payment, which he spent in a mansion in Pennsylvania, leaving him again with little money to survive on for the rest of the year.
By that time, Post also had two other things to worry about. One was a hit put on him by his estranged brother. The other was a lawsuit filed by his on-and-off girlfriend and former landlady Ann Karpik, who claimed she was entitled to a third of the winnings.
After a long court battle, Karpik won the lawsuit, though she was never able to collect anything because by that time, Post was already heavily in debt and unable to give her any money. Plus, Post was also in trouble for shooting his sixth wife’s car and for trying to shoot a bill collector who showed up at his home – an event for which he ended up spending some time in jail later on.
Some worthless business ventures and more spending led to bankruptcy, and by the end of the 1990s, he was surviving on food stamps and less than $500 a month. He died broke in 2006, at the age of 66.
5 MC Hammer – $33 million
MC Hammer (real name Stanley Kirk Burrell) was a household name in the 1980s, thanks to hits like “Hammertime.” Though he eventually went on to release 11 original studio albums, MC Hammer faded from the limelight as years went on.
Over time, Burrell invested much of his money on other ventures, including buying 19 Thoroughbred racehorses, designing his own clothing line (J Slick), and starting several Internet projects. Of course, he also spent his money on other, less-smart ways, such as paying for a 200-person entourage to go everywhere with him and a mansion in the Oakland hills that featured a 17-car garage, two swimming pools and a baseball diamond court. Oh, and his driveway gate was gold plated.
By 1996, MC Hammer was filing bankruptcy. He tried to stage comebacks several times, but never succeeded. Eventually, he gave up on the idea of fame and fortune and became a preacher in Oakland, just minutes away from where his multi-million dollar mansion stands. Hammer is currently holding onto a net worth of $1 million.
4 Patricia Kluge – $100 million
Patricia was once married to millionaire John Kluge. He was a television industry mogul and entrepreneur who amassed most of his fortune in the 70s and 80s.
Patricia (Kluge’s third wife) divorved him in 1990, and used much of her $100 million divorce settlement to establish a 960-acre vineyard that catered to the ultra rich. Unfortunately, the place turned out to be more expensive to set up and run that she expected, and over the next few years, she borrowed a few additional millions just to keep the facilities going.
In 2011, Kluge declared personal bankruptcy (citing her debts at $47.5 million) and sold her winery for less than $500,000. The estate was bought by Donald Trump, who offered Kluge a job in the facilities. She now works there during the day, and rents a home nearby.
3 Jordan Belfort - $250 million
Belfort is a bit unique in his tale of losing it all – mostly because he’s staged sort of a comeback since then.
While Belfort’s name might not ring a bell, his story will, partly because of the recent film adaptation of his memoir, The Wolf of Wall Street.
He started his career as a stockbroker before founding his own firm, Stratton Oakmont, which employed over 1000 brokers and moved over $1 billion in assets and investments. By the time he turned 25, Belfort was worth over $250 million.
It didn’t take long before authorities caught on to the fact that much of his revenues were connected to securities fraud. As part of an agreement with the FBI, Belfort spent only 22 months in jail and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $110.4 million. He still owes most of it, despite earning over $1 million from the sale of his book and film rights.
2 Halsey Minor - $200 million
Minor made his fortune by founding, running and eventually selling CNET, a website that publishes a mix of articles, reviews and news. After becoming highly popular, CNET was sold to CBS Interactive in 2008 for a breathtaking $1.7 billion, of which Minor received almost $200 million.
So what happened? Minor spent a LOT of that money over the following few years. He was also sued by a number of firms and private individuals for failure to honor agreements, purchases, and contracts. He also spent $15.3 million to buy the Carter’s Grove Plantation in Virginia.
By 2011, Minor was filing bankruptcy, claiming he owed $100 million to various creditors.
1 Alberto Vilar - $950 Million
Vilar was the co-founder of the investment firm Amerindo and an avid opera lover. In fact, he worked tirelessly to support the arts, making huge donations to educational institutions and opera houses. In fact, his $250 million donated to the performing arts over a period of years once earned him the title of "the largest supporter of classical music, opera, and ballet in the world" according to an article in The Times (a London newspaper).
However, when the stock market crashed in the year 2000, his fortune took a huge loss. Soon after, it was discovered Vilar had been running a number of financial scams and he was accused of money laundering, securities fraud, and mail and wire fraud.
In 2010, he was sentenced to nine years in prison but released in 2012 following an appeal. He was ordered to return to prison in 2014 when he was unable to pay restitution to families he had scammed during his business deals.