Not all Powerball winners will have a happy ending despite taking home the jackpot.
Powerball winners all handle their newfound wealth and celebrity differently. And some of the jackpot stories don’t have happy endings like you’d think they would. Here are a few tales from winners who probably wished they had never matched the numbers in the first place.
One story is about a man who scored a jackpot of more than $5 million. Instead of investing wisely or enlisting the help of professionals to help him manage those funds, he began to spend his wealth recklessly. Soon his lofty bank account began funding a lavish and carefree lifestyle that led to shady characters and bad habits. He pled guilty for possession of drugs eventually. And as he was led out of the courtroom to begin serving his ten years, he wished aloud that he’d never won in the first place.
One Powerball winner matched five white balls in her game and won $1 million. She collected her winnings in a lump sum, walking away with roughly $550,000. And instead of talking with a financial adviser or putting some of that cash into savings, this Powerball winner started buying new cars. It wasn’t long, about ten months later, that this woman had all of the new cars repossessed. When the money was all gone, she was left with a five-year-old Honda and house that still needed a new roof and replacement siding.
One Powerball winner quit his job, in a not so professional manner, before actually verifying his winning ticket. His jackpot was much smaller than he originally anticipated. By the time he realized he couldn’t retire on less than $25,000, he had tried to get his job back. But the damage couldn't be undone with his workplace departure, and the Powerball winner didn’t get that second chance.
Gloria Mackenzie scored a $590 million jackpot to become one of the biggest, single Powerball winners in the country. Being in her 80s, she entrusted her son, Scott, to help find the best way to save and invest her after-taxes amount of $278 million. It was a sensible move since Scott was her caretaker. But that didn’t last long, and five years later, mom is suing the son, along with his financial advisers, for mismanagement of her funds. Citing that Scott had “total control” of her millions, he and his investment manager lived off her winnings and poorly invested on her behalf. The 40-page lawsuit outlines the son’s bad faith, his breach of legal duties as her power of attorney, and exploitation of a vulnerable adult.
One woman, who scored a jackpot as a tip from one of her restaurant customers, found herself in multi-million-dollar hot water. Like many Powerball dreamers, with her wealth, she wanted to help her friends and family by sharing her winnings. But it’s not what you think. In fact, she refused to share with her coworkers. To avoid their advancing lawsuit, she created a company and gifted more than half to her family. But, she didn’t take into account the gift tax for which she would be liable. The Tax Court found her responsible for the total tax amount.
Andrew Jackson Whittaker, Junior walked away with a multi state Powerball jackpot of $114 million after taxes. And just when he thought his gaming luck had changed for the better, his good fortune ran out fast. Burglars broke into his car, where he had poorly chosen to stash $500,000. Two years after this thievery, he “lost” another $200,000 in cash, having not learned his lesson about carrying large sums. Whittaker took to the casinos to try his luck again. Only this time, instead of winning jackpots, he racked up substantial debt, for which he attempted to write checks to cover. Caesar’s Atlantic City sued him for $1.5 million in bounced checks he wrote to satisfy his debt.
Being a Powerball winner can be a truly life-changing event. But it’s not always a happy ending, and not everyone walks away better off than they were before winning. Should you find yourself a winner, maybe try to avoid some of these scenarios so you don’t end up in a similar misfortune.