Winning the lottery is a dream come true for most people. Just think about how much your life would change: you’d be able to pay off your credit card debt, take fancy vacations with your friends and family, and finally move into your dream house!
But what many people don’t realize is that suddenly acquiring an extremely large sum of money also puts you at risk. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun of spending, and you won’t realize that you’re actually driving yourself into debt. It might seem like millions of dollars will last forever, but spending irresponsibly is a one-way ticket to bankruptcy.
Unfortunately, these 20 people know that all too well. After winning large sums of money on the lottery, they squandered it all—and here’s how.
1. Lara and Roger Griffiths: Lara and Roger had a wonderful marriage before they won $2.7 million on the lottery. After winning, they spent a fortune on expensive trips, a new Porsche, and a million-dollar home. In 2010, a fire destroyed their house, and Roger left Lara, ending their 14-year marriage.
2. Bud Post: In 1988, a man named William “Bud” Post won $16.2 million playing the lottery, but within one year he found himself $1 million in debt. A former girlfriend sued him, and his brother even tried to hire a hitman to kill him so he could inherit the winnings. Bud lived on $450 a month and food stamps until he died in 2006.
3. Martyn and Kay Tott: United Kingdom residents Martyn Tott and his wife, Kay, won five million playing the lottery—but they lost the ticket! Unfortunately, the couple reported the loss after the 30-day period had passed, and it became the largest unclaimed jackpot prize since the lottery began in 1994.
4. Sharon Tirabassi: In 2004, a single mother named Sharon Tirabassi cashed a check for more than $10 million from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. She blew through the money by spending it on big houses, fancy cars, and lavish parties. In less than a decade, she was back to working part-time and living in a rented house.
5. Evelyn Adams: In the mid-1980s, a woman named Evelyn Adams achieved the impossible: she won the lottery in both 1985 and 1986. She had a total a $5.4 million, but she gambled every last penny of it away in Atlantic City.
6. Tonda Lynn Dickerson: Former Waffle House employee Tonda Lynn Dickerson was forced to pay nearly two million in taxes after she refused to split her earnings with her colleagues. Dickerson had placed her money in a corporation and granted her family 51 percent of the stock, which qualified her for the hefty tax.
7. Gerald Muswagon: In 1998, Gerald Muswagon won $10 million playing the Super 7 jackpot in Canada. All of the instant fame and attention got to his head, and he spent exorbitant amounts of cash on cars, homes, and parties. He also built a “party pad” where he hosted expensive events. He eventually ended up working on a farm until he took his own life in 2005.
8. Suzanne Mullins: In 1993, Suzanne Mullins won $4.2 million playing the lottery in Virginia. She split the payments three ways with her husband and daughter, which didn’t leave her much cash for herself. She quickly fell into debt and wasn’t able to pay any of it back.
9. Americo Lopes: Americo Lopes was a construction worker who won the lottery but didn’t tell any of his coworkers who had split the ticket with him. He quit his job, claiming he needed foot surgery. His coworkers eventually caught wind of his lie, and they sued him. The court ordered Lopes to split his winnings.
10. Ibi Roncaioli: In 1991, Ontario resident Ibi Roncaioli won five million, but she never told her husband, Joseph. He eventually discovered that she had given two million of her winnings to a secret child she had with another man. He poisoned her with painkillers, resulting in her death.
11. Michael Carroll: Michael Carroll was only 19 years old when he found himself with a hefty sum of $15 million after playing the lottery. However, within five years, he was back to square one after spending it on drugs, prostitutes, and parties.
12. Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr.: West Virginia resident Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. won a whopping $114 million on a Powerball drawing. Shortly after, thieves stole over half a million dollars from his truck, and Caeser’s in Atlantic City sued him for bouncing $1.5 million in checks. Within four years, he was back to where he started.
13. Billy Bob Harrell Jr.: In 1997, a Pentecostal preacher and Home Depot employee named Billy Bob Harrell Jr. hit it big on a $41 million jackpot. His major problem was that he couldn’t say no to people who needed money, and he gave away tons of his winnings. He also got involved with a company that gave lottery winners lump sums as opposed to annual checks, and it left him with much less than he won. He eventually took his own life.
14. Willie Hurt: In 1989, Willie Hurt won $3.1 million, but two years later, he divorced his wife, lost custody of his children, and was even arrested by police for attempted murder. He also developed a crack-cocaine habit that sucked away every last dollar he had.
15. Denise Rossi: After Denise Rossi won $1.3 million playing the California lotto, she immediately demanded a divorce from her husband who had no idea she had won the money. Two years after they split, her husband intercepted a letter that revealed the truth. He sued her, and the judge awarded him every cent.
16. Janite Lee: Within one decade, the $18 million that Janite Lee won in 1993 was long gone; she spent almost all of it on charity. She was a major donor for the Democratic party, but she also had a slight gambling problem and lots of credit card debt.
17. Luke Pittard: Wales native Luke Pittard won $1.9 million in 2006, but he blew through nearly all of it on a trip to the Canary Islands, a wedding, and a house. Just a year-and-a-half later, he had to return to his job at McDonald’s.
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18. Rhoda and Alex Toth: This couple hit the $13 million Florida jackpot in 1990 and had nothing left 15 years later. They initially spent tons of money on a three-month trip to Las Vegas, and they bought 10 acres of land in Florida. They were eventually sued by the IRS for tax evasion. Alex passed away before the trial hit the court room, and Rhoda spent two years behind bars.
19. Vivian Nicholson: In 1961, Vivian’s husband, Keith, won over three million playing Britain’s football pools. The couple took it upon themselves to live a life of luxury. They bought expensive clothing, cars, and a new home. Keith died in 1965, and Vivian had to declare bankruptcy after she was slammed with a huge tax bill. She died in 2011 after struggling for years with alcohol addiction and depression.
20. Callie Rogers: 16-year-old Callie Rogers won three million in 2003. She was far too young to know how to handle her money wisely, and she spent millions on vacations, clothing, breast implants, a home for her mother, and a raging drug habit. She reportedly spent over $300,000 on cocaine alone!
It’s hard to imagine spending so much money in such a short period of time, but when you’re surrounded by temptation, it’s much easier than you think!
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