Cautionary Tales: The Powerball Winners Who Lost Every Penny

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  • Author:
    Shaun Greer
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Some Powerball winners don’t have fairytale endings, including these past winners who lost everything.

As fun and life-changing winning a Powerball jackpot can be, there are a few cautionary tales out there to consider. Unfortunately, not every Powerball story has a happy ending. And these rags to riches to devastation examples can serve as a warning of what not to do should you find yourself holding that winning ticket.

Don’t let these horror stories dissuade you from playing. Instead, take heed of the countless mistakes other winners have made in the past. It can help guide you to that Powerball-winning happy ending you’ve always dreamed of having. (Of course, you have to win first.)

$1 Million Doesn’t Last Forever

Lisa Arcand didn’t win a Powerball jackpot, but she did score a $1 million Massachusetts prize back in 2004. And like so many big-cash winners, she took a slew of vacations to celebrate. But she then took an investment approach, sinking her cash into a restaurant, hoping to turn a little money into long-term residual income. But without the expertise, her little dream collapsed. And within three years, her million was gone.

The Divorce Karma

It was the late 90s in California when Denise Rossi learned of her $1.3 million win. But instead of rushing home to her husband of 25 years to celebrate, she quietly presented him with divorce papers, not disclosing her recent jackpot victory. The karma bus came back around for Denise, though about three years later when a judge decided she had violated disclosure laws. Her now ex-husband was awarded every penny.

It’s Not Just Powerball Winners

It’s not just Powerball winners who find misfortune. In fact, one of the most hair-raising cautionary tales hails from a Pennsylvania lottery winner, William “Bud” Post III. His $16.2 million jackpot prize made him a target of some unscrupulous people, including his own brother. Post’s brother actually tried to have him assassinated to take the cash. Later, Post’s wife ended up suing him for her portion of the win. Once the dust settled, Post was left depressed and isolated, spending what he had left and racking up over a million in debts. He found himself relying on food stamps before he eventually passed away at the age of 66.

When Friends Become Enemies

Sandra Hayes was one of several coworkers who got lucky with a Powerball jackpot worth $224 million back in 2006. The lump-sum was reported to have been about $6 million. But as Hayes shared in interviews, the cash also came with hardships. She cited the need those around her had for trying to get a piece of the pie. Saying many closest to her seemed like vampires, desperately driven by greed. Her friends soon became enemies, inciting emotional and social pain.

He Thought He Could Handle His Own Finances

David Edwards thought his dreams came true when he discovered he was one of two winners for the $295 million Powerball jackpot back in 2001. It seemed to be perfect timing since he had recently been fired from his telecommunications job. He was also facing an upcoming back surgery he wasn’t sure how he’d afford before the big win. But things took a turn for Edwards when his lavish spending led to drug use and jail time. His $41.4 million lump sum payout didn’t last long, considering he spent it on a Palm Beach home, a Lear Jet, a limousine business, three racehorses, and a Lamborghini. It would be a short-lived indulgence, and reports said he ended up living in a storage unit, wearing dirty clothes and scrapping for food.

Let these Powerball winner stories serve as a cautionary tale. If you're holding the winning ticket, be mindful not to make some of the spending and trust mistakes these past winners did.

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