Winning the lottery is the best thing that could happen to anyone. Life changes in a matter of seconds when you are presented with an immense wealth. Knowing you don’t have to lift a finger for the rest of your life can be a dream come true for some (someone like me). However, if that person has a spending problem then winning the lottery could be the worst thing that could happen. We have heard repeating stories of people winning the jackpot and living a lavish lifestyle; just to lose it all in a matter of years. Here, we have collected 1o similar stories of people who went from rags to riches to rags again. Their failure to manage wealth led most of them to hit rock bottom.
1. Lara and Roger Griffiths: $2.7 million
In 2005, Lara and Roger Griffiths life changed when they won a £1.8m or $2.7m jackpot. Roger immediately quit his job and the couple started spending their new found fortune in the most unfortunate way. The Griffiths were living a happy life with their two daughters when they discovered that they were one of the lucky ones from a lotto drawing.
Soon after receiving their winnings, Roger bought sport cars with personalized number plates as well as taking wild vacations with friends and family in Dubai, New York and Monaco. The couple also bought a million-dollar home but in 2010, a fire burned it down. Roger later left Lara, ending their 14 years of marriage and by 2013, Roger only had $7 left from the $2.7m. In an interview with the DailyMail, Roger claimed that Lara was responsible for burning the money while Lara claimed the other way.
2. William “Bud” Post III: $16.2 million
William “Bud” Post III, 66, won $16.2 million playing the lottery in 1988. Soon after claiming his first check, Bud went on to invest in major businesses without hiring a financial advisor. His investments came back with negative results and Bud started owing the shareholders. Since then, every check he annually received went towards the money he owed. Apart from the fact that Bud ruined his fortune within a year, his beloved brother was jealous of him and went on to hire a hitman to murder him.
Lucky for Bud, his brother was arrested and convicted before the plan could go forward. His previous landlord also sued him for one-third of the jackpot and when a man knocked on his door to collect debt money, Bud pulled a shotgun on him; which he was convicted for assault. He went bankrupt, came out of it with $1 million free and clear and spent most of that windfall, too.
3. Martyn and Kay Tott: £3,011,065
The chance of winning the National Lottery jackpot is 1 in 13,983,816 (or approximately 1 in 14 million). Martyn Tott was just another man who never thought that he would be one of the luckiest people on Earth to win the lottery. Tott was living a happy life with his wife in a two-bedroom house and working as a purchasing manager when he learned that he grabbed a £3,011,065 jackpot. Tott and his wife decided to ditch their old lifestyle and start a new one where they buy an Audi TT car, a luxury house and a trip around the world.
There was just one small problem with their plan. The winning lottery ticket was to be claimed within 6 months after the numbers were announced and the couple somehow managed to lose it. Even though they had proof of the winning lottery, the organizer decided not to pay it. Everyone from Sir Richard Branson to Tony Blair appealed to the lottery organizer to pay the couple their winnings but despite their involvement, they were never paid. After losing three long legal battles with the organizer, Tott left his wife and lost his sanity. It took him almost a decade to understand what really matters in life and get back on his feet.
4. Sharon Tirabassi: $10 million
Sharon Tirabassi, a 35-year-old resident of Hamilton, Ontario, was lucky enough to win $10,569,00.10 (Canadian) in 2004. Tirabassi didn’t waste a second to cash her check from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. to buy a fancy house, sport cars, designer clothes, lavish parties, exotic trips, handouts to family and loans to friends. Almost a decade later, Tirabassi checked her bank account only to realize that she had less than $1 million left.
Thinking about her six children and their future, she decided to save it in a trust fund; the money will become available when they turn 26. Today, she’s back in the working class, riding the bus to work, working part-time and living in a rented house.
5. Evelyn Adams: $5.3 million
Evelyn Adams came to the spotlight not once but twice. She was the first two-time winner of the New Jersey Lottery (1985 and 1986). In October 1985, Ms. Adams was working as a convenience store clerk when she won her first lottery, a staggering $3.9 million. She then started buying lottery tickets every week for $100, which grabbed her another jackpot of $1.4 million. Ms. Adams bought the convenience store she worked at and also planned to marry her fiance.
However, after the couple got married, Ms. Adams made some bad choices such as gambling, unlimited shopping, bad investments and gifts to family. When the couple lost their immense fortune in a matter of years, reality hit them. Today, she lives in a trailer.
6. Abraham Shakespeare: $30 million
Abraham Shakespeare won $30 million in the Florida lottery jackpot in 2006. He decided to take the lump sum of $17 million and live a comfortable life. However, when friends and family members started asking him for help with funds, Abraham found it a little uneasy to share his fortune. That’s when Abraham met Dee Dee Moore, a woman who promised to help him “protect” his fortune from greedy friends and family.
Dee Dee Moore somehow convinced Abraham to transfer the funds to her bank account and then killed him. She played innocent and reported him to have ran away with another woman. Authorities conducted an investigation and found discrepancies in her story. They also managed to recover WalMart surveillance video of Moore making a $104 cash purchase of gloves, duct tape, plastic sheeting and other items detectives later found close to where Shakespeare’s body was buried. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
7. Gerald Muswagon: $10 million
Gerald Muswagon won $10 million on the Super 7 jackpot in 1998. He experienced the high of becoming a multi-millionaire after winning the jackpot when he bought a ticket for just $2. It was a fairytale story for the man from Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada. Immediately after his win he went on a spending spree that saw him buy new cars for his family and friends. He also bought a new house that he promptly turned into a self-proclaimed “party pad” as well as eight brand new big screen TVs for friends in a 24 hour shopping stint.
At his party house, Gerald became addicted to alcohol and drugs. He had many run-ins with the law and spent time in prison on several occasions ranging from reckless driving to sexual assault. By 2005, Gerald had spent every penny of his fortune, forcing him to return to work. He took work in a farm for a minimum wage to support his girlfriend and six children. On a Sunday morning in October of 2005, Gerald hanged himself in his parents’ garage.
8. Americo Lopes: $38.5 million
Americo Lopes was one of the six people who took part in a company pool lottery purchase. All six men funded to buy tickets and made verbal contract to share the winnings. However, when Americo Lopes learned that one of the tickets he had purchased for the group was worth $38.5 million, his attitude changed. He told his co-workers that he had to undergo a foot surgery and took time off work.
It didn’t take long for his co-workers find out that Lopes was robbing them of their winnings. The five men sued Lopes who claimed that he had purchased the tickets with his own money. However, the judge saw it the other way. He ruled in favor of the men and ordered Lopes to pay $2 million each.
9. Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr: $314,900,000
Whittaker claimed the second largest Powerball jackpot ever in 2002. The 55-year-old was already a millionaire when he purchased the $315 million winning ticket at a West Virginia supermarket on Christmas Day, sixteen years ago. After taxes, he got a whopping $114 million but in August 2003, less than a year after the contracting firm president took home his prize, thieves broke into his car and made off with $545,000 in cash, which Whittaker reportedly carried around in a suitcase.
His car was broken into a second time in January 2004, stealing another estimated $200,000. Almost a year later, the 18-year-old boyfriend of his granddaughter Brandi Bragg, was found dead in Whittaker’s home, overdosing on prescription pills and drugs. A few months after that, his granddaughter was found dead with illegal drugs in her system. He was then sued by Caesars in Atlantic City for bouncing $1.5 million in checks. In 2016, Whittaker’s mansion was completely destroyed when a fire broke out.
10. Michael Carroll: $15 million
In 2002, at the age of 19, Michael Carroll won nearly £10m but he’s proof that money doesn’t buy happiness. Michael was wearing an electronic tag when he purchased the winning lotto. After amassing such fortune, Michael went on to live an extravagant lifestyle filled with unlimited booze. He purchased a mansion and converted it into his personal race track. There, he and his friends rode race cars and caused havoc around the neighborhood.
In 2004, his mansion was robbed while he was in a drug induced state. The thieves went off with more than $100,000 worth of gold and jewelry. Mickey soon became addicted to drugs and alcohol which cost him his marriage. Within five years, Mickey had blown through £10m and was broke again. Today, he works at a biscuit factory earning £204 a week but says he has been happier than ever before with his new life.
Winning the lottery is not as easy as it seems. If you are one of the lucky ones to win it, just take time off and let the reality sink in. Also, one of the most important steps is to hire a financial advisor and make better choices with your newfound wealth.