Learn from These Past Powerball Winners That Lost It All

When keeping the millions is harder than winning them.
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Lottery winners that lost their windfalls
  • Author:
    Shaun Greer
  • Published:

Ever wondered about the problems instant fortune brings?

Just ask Marie Holmes. She came under fire for repeatedly bailing out her boyfriend when she won the $188 million Powerball jackpot in 2015.

Sure, Marie can do as she likes with her winnings, and lucky for her she didn’t lose everything, but other winners have.

So, before you buy your next ticket, check out these cautionary tales about lottery winners who lost it all.

The Infamous Jack Whittaker

Unlike many jackpot winners, Jack was already blessed with wealth when he won one of the largest ever jackpots awarded to a single Powerball ticket at that point. To add to the good feels, he won on Christmas morning in 2002.

The jackpot stood at $314,9 million and after taxes and choosing the lump sum option, Jack took home a delightful $90-something million, just to add to the $17 million he’d already earned in life by working his way up from poverty to owning a successful contracting company.

After he won, Jack did much good with his cash. He donated money to churches, set up a charity and even bought a new house for the woman who sold him the ticket. But he was not immune to the lottery curse.

Jack’s win was public knowledge, and he was bombarded with people asking for favours and cash. He also had a habit of leaving wads of cash in his car, which meant he was once robbed of over half a million dollars while visiting a strip club. His company was hit with costly lawsuits form people wanting to get their hands on the money and he started drinking and getting into trouble.

What’s more, Jack loved to spoil his granddaughter. He gave her a humongous allowance along with four cars. But her wealth was like a magnet for a bad crowd. Eventually, her boyfriend died of an overdose, she died a year later, and her mother was found dead seven years after that. Jack’s wife also filed for divorce. He’d lost everyone who mattered and his bankroll.

The $27 Million Spending Spree

A few years ago, lucky David Lee Edwards divvied up his $280 million Powerball jackpot with three other ticketholders. At the time of his windfall, he was unemployed and living at home. After taxes and choosing the lump sum payout, David went home with $27 million. He bought a home, a fleet of vehicles, a watch, a jet, plenty of medieval collectibles and a fiber options installation company, as you do. He also married a woman 19 years his junior.

Within just 12 months, David had spent $12 million. He lost the house to foreclosure. His wife stabbed a boyfriend and was arrested, and David died at just 58 years old.

The Lottery Pool Curse

Wild Willie Seeley and 15 of his co-workers banded together to form a lottery pool. They were lucky at first, winning the big August 2013 jackpot. But it took just a few weeks for Willy to succumb to the lottery curse.

The syndicate called themselves Oceans 16 and theirs was one of 3 tickets to win the $450 million Powerball jackpot. At the press conference, Willie reported that he and his wife were extremely happy and planned to spend their days hunting, relaxing and fishing.

Yet, it didn’t take long for the curse to hit. Willie found fishing difficult as he was followed by reporters everywhere. And, distant relatives along with strangers came knocking at his door for handouts. There was no relaxing.

What’s more, it came as a shock to realise that after splitting that jackpot 3 ways, and then another 16 ways amongst Oceans 16, there wasn’t even $4 million left after taxes. There wasn’t quite that, never have to worry about finances again feeling.

Just a few weeks after their initial celebrations, Willie and his wife bemoaned the lottery curse. He told reporters he had to change his entire life but didn’t want to change the way he lived.

So, before you buy this week’s Powerball tickets, think carefully about how you would spend your winnings and make sure you consult a financial expert before you spend a thing!

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