Becoming wealthy overnight is a dream we all have in common. We read stories of people winning millions and turning their lives around. Unfortunately, not everyone is good at managing the money wisely. While winning the lottery is a dream come true for most of us, it’s also crucial to play your cards right. Those with no experience managing large sums, usually end up back where they began. Here, we have gathered stories of 10 people whose lives were ruined after winning the jackpot. It’s not the money to be blamed, but rather their poor choices and lavish spending habits.
1. Callie Rogers became Britain’s youngest lottery winner when she won £1,875,000, ($3 million) in a 2003 National Lottery Jackpot. She spent it all on friends, family, contraband, surgeries and wild parties until she lost it all.
When Rogers was 16-years-old, she won £1.87 million. Becoming a millionaire overnight at such a young age, forced her to make the wrong decisions. Not knowing how to spend the money, she went on shopping sprees, threw wild parties every day for friends, lended money to her family members, got surgeries to enhance her beauty and spent a large amount on contraband; eventually causing her to become penniless.
When reality hit, she became depressed and tried taking her own life several times. After losing all her winnings, Rogers got a regular job, fell in love with a fireman and is now married with three children. Today, she speaks for imposing age restrictions to participate in the National Lottery drawings.
2. Evelyn Adams won the jackpot twice, in 1985 and 1986. Even though she managed to win a total of $5.4 million, she gambled it all away, and as of 2012, she was living in an old trailer.
During the 1980’s, Evelyn Adams started buying lottery every day, hoping to win the jackpot. The odds of winning the lottery is extremely low, yet Evelyn managed to defy the odds and rack up a total of $5.4 million in winnings. However, soon after winning the huge sum, Evelyn went on a gambling spree. She spent thousands of dollars every night in casinos, as well as loaning her winnings to friends and family members. Her luxurious life only lasted for a while since she managed to burn through her winnings within just a few years of time. According to several reports, Evelyn was living in a trailer home as of 2012.
3. In 2013, Adrian and Gillian Bayford won £148m jackpot. In order to show the amount of love he had for his wife, Adrian purchased a mansion with a beautiful garden, then hired a gardener to keep the garden evergreen. His wife ended up falling in love with the gardener, and eventually they broke up.
In 2013, Adrian Bayford, who was working as a mailman, found out that he had hit the jackpot of £148m. Adrian believed that the newfound fortune would bring their family closer, so he purchased a gigantic mansion with a beautiful garden. Adrian also hired a man to take care of the garden and keep it neat and tidy for his beloved wife. Soon after moving into their new mansion, Gillian became ‘obsessed’ with the gardener.
Adrian confronted the two but they both denied the claims. However, the couple’s relationship soon came to an abrupt end. Gillian has since remarried and now lives a happy life. When Adrian heard of this news, he decided to sell the mansion and all the properties he owned. Today, he is planning to move to an isolated location in Australia.
4. In 1997, Billie Bob Harrell, Jr., a Texas resident, won the $31 million Texas Lotto jackpot. By 1999, poor financial management and issues in his personal life left him broke; forcing him to take his own life.
Harrell, Jr. thought that his whole life changed when the lottery ticket he had purchased matched the winning numbers. In June of 1997, he won the Lotto Texas jackpot of $31 million. Harrell, Jr. decided to collect the total as 25 annual checks for $1.24 million. Life was great… at least for a while. Harrell purchased a ranch, a half-dozen homes for himself and other family members, new automobiles for everyone and the religious man made large contributions to his church from his annual checks. He was so helpful that he even started donating money to members of the congregation who needed help.
His spending spiraled out of control. So out of control, in fact, that the annual checks were not even enough to pay his taxes. On May 22, 1999, 20 months after hitting lottery pay dirt, Harrell, Jr. locked himself in his upstairs room and took his own life. Shortly before he claimed his own life, he confided to a financial adviser: “Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me”.
5. In 2001, Martyn and Kay Tott won £3million. The couple were ready to start a new life until they realized that they had lost their winning ticket. The lottery organizers chose not to pay the winnings. It destroyed Martyn’s marriage and almost his sanity until he understood what really matters in life.
Like every other lottery player, Martyn Tott never thought that there would be a day where he would be the winner. The couple were already living a happy life when Martyn learned that his lotto ticket had grabbed him a jackpot total of £3,011,065. The couple started partying, eating out every day and even planned to buy an Audi TT car and a trailer home to travel around Europe. However, there was a slight problem with their plans. The couple had seen the appeal for the winner to come forward, six months after the winner was announced.
Martyn remembers the numbers because he purchased the ticket online and thus had proof, however, since so many months had passed, the couple had no idea what happened to the original lottery ticket. When the couple appealed to claim the winnings without the ticket, organizer Camelot denied their appeal. Even famous celebrities requested the organizer to make the payment, but they refused to handout the winnings since it was part of the game’s rules that the original ticket had to be presented. Martyn grew depressed and frustrated while trying to claim his winnings. The frustration took a toll on their marriage, eventually forcing them to divorce.
6. In 2016, Craigory Burch, Jr., a small-town forklift operator, hit the jackpot and took home nearly half a million dollars. After winning the $434,272 jackpot in November, Burch spent his entire winnings to buy Christmas presents for people in need. A few months later, seven crooks broke into his house in an effort to rob him, which ended up with Burch losing his life.
Craigory Burch, Jr., 20, worked hard to provide for his 2-year-old daughter. His life changed when he hit the jackpot and took home nearly half a million dollars from Georgia’s Fantasy 5 sweepstakes. The 20-year-old man celebrated his win by purchasing Christmas presents for the needy people in his community. However, five men and two women, all members of a gang, were unaware of his kindness and broke into Burch’s house in January of 2016. There, they held him and his two year old child and demanded money. Burch threw them his wallet and whatever money he had on him but the crooks were unsatisfied. Assuming that Burch was lying, they decided to take his life.
7. In 2004, Sharon Tirabassi won $10 million, and in less than a decade, she spent it all on sports cars, friends, family members and parties. Today, she lives in a rented house and rides a bike to work.
Sharon Tirabassi, a 35 year-old resident of Hamilton, Ontario, bought a lottery ticket in 2004, which ended up being a $10,569,00.10 (Canadian) winner. Tirabassi cashed in her check from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., divided it among family ($1 million to her parents, and $1.75 million among her four siblings), bought houses for everyone, even the neighbors, rented them out at a low cost for people in her neighborhood, paid people’s rent, bailed friends out of jail and also invested in business ventures for others’ sake.
She also took vacations to Cancun, Florida, Las Vegas, California, and the Caribbean, as well as bought four cars: a Hummer, a Mustang, a Dodge Charger and a custom Cadillac Escalade. Tirabassi won the lottery at a young age and made the mistake of not hiring a financial advisor. Nine years after winning the jackpot, reality struck Tirabassi, when she discovered that there was only $750,000 left in her account.
Without hesitating, thinking about her children’s future, Tirabassi took the $750,000 and deposited the sum into her three children’s accounts, who can only use them when they turn 26. Today, she lives in a rented house, works a normal job and bikes to her work everyday.
8. On March 6, 1999, Tonda Lynn and two other Waffle House employees pooled up and bought a bunch of tickets together. When one of the tickets was a winner, Tonda decided to take the winning ticket for herself. She also tried to give portions of the winnings to her family members in an effort to cut taxes, but the IRS fined her with an unpaid federal gift tax bill of $1.2 million.
The odds of winning the lottery are pretty slim. That is why many people often pool up and buy a bunch of tickets together, promising to split the winnings afterwards. While this plan sounds promising, there’s sometimes a bad apple in the bunch. Tonda was one such apple, who decided to be selfish after winning $10 million. In 1999, the waitress at Waffle House, along with two other women, bought lottery tickets together. When Tonda discovered that one of the tickets was a winner, she quit her job without informing anyone.
When her fellow co-workers, who spent a portion of their money to buy the tickets and had agreed to share with, discovered the betrayal, they sued her. Sadly for the two women, the agreement was a verbal contract and according to Alabama laws, gambling related contracts, especially verbal ones, are not considered legal, so Tonda got away with it.
After refusing to hand over any of the winnings, Tonda hatched up a plan. She started splitting the money and gifting it to her family members, hoping not to pay taxes, since they would be categorized as gifts. The IRS didn’t agree with her shenanigans and fined her $1.2 million, which was what Tonda was left with after splitting the money with her family members. In the end, she had to pay the remaining amount as fines, not only costing her the newfound fortune, but also two good friends and a job.
9. Janite Lee, a wigmaker from South Korea, won $18 million in 1993. Her generosity with her donations, addiction to gambling and her credit card debts, left her bankrupt by 2001.
Janite Lee was 53 when she discovered that she hit the jackpot of $18 million in 1993. The immigrant from South Korea was working at a wig shop when she won the Illinois Lottery. After claiming her newfound fortune, Lee moved her family into a million-dollar gated community in St. Louis and started spending much of her $620,000 a year on philanthropic efforts. She started donating money to political parties, as well as different educational and social programs.
Her charitable donations put her name on a reading room at the Washington University School of Law. However, by 2001, she had less than $700 to her name and $2.5 million in debt. In a last ditch effort to save herself and her family, she filed for Chapter 7.
10. Michael Carroll was a sanitation worker from England, who hit the jackpot when he was 19 years old. Soon after amassing his £9.7 million (more than $15.5 million) fortune, Carroll spent it all on ladies, contraband, drag racing and wild parties, until he spent it all. Today, he works at a bread factory and rides the local bus to work.
Mickey Carrol was down on his luck when he was 19. The sanitation worker was wearing an ankle bracelet for disorderly conduct and struggling to pay bills, when he learned that he had won £9.7 million (more than $15.5 million) in 2002. Soon after claiming his winnings, Carrol bought a mansion, converted it into a drag racing arena, and invited all of his friends. According to the Daily Mail, Carrol was spending more than $3,000 on contraband every day for himself and his friends.
He was always throwing wild parties with hundreds of strangers attending them, who ended up taking whatever they could when the party was over. Just eight years after hitting the jackpot, Carrol lost his fortune, as well as his wife and daughter. After spending more than $15 million, Carrol had to abandon his $850,000 six-bedroom dream home because of unpaid taxes. Today, he has a regular job and is reunited with his family.
According to addiction experts, 70 percent of major winners end up broke. So, if you ever manage to win the jackpot, make sure you hire a good financial advisor and make smart choices, instead of going on spending sprees.