A Look at Huge Lottery Winners Who Ended Badly

Can Money buy happiness?
Many people think riches can buy happines but many life examples proove that a huge check or a fat account balance might be a recipe for doom. 

Last Wednesday’s Powerball winner Tom home a whooping  $700 million. A dream which so many people share. Enough money to live comfortably and solve problems maybe.  But this has not been the outcome for so many lottery winners who in a snap of a minute stumbled  into riches beyond their imagination. Monday of them do not turn out do well. Loosing all their millions in a matter of years. 

Mony lottery winners gamble away their wealth, acrue more debts, give out their money to friends and charity or simple loose it to swindlers. They end up badly typically either dead or broke.  


Evelyn Adams won $5.4 million in 1985, 1986

Adams won the New Jersey lottery not just once, but twice. In fact, Adams won twice in just four months, which is about a 1 in 17 trillion chance. Her combined lottery winnings were paid out in annuities. But she was a compulsive gambler and also gave large sums to family and friends. By 2001, Adams had run out of money and was living in a trailer.

William ‘Bud’ Post III won $16.2 million in 1988

Post’s obituary warned that “a huge financial win does not guarantee happiness.” His $16.2 million Pennsylvania lottery winnings were paid in annual installments of $500,000 a time. Within two weeks, he had spent $300,000 of it and within three months, he was $500,000 in debt. He bought a car lot, a restaurant and an airplane, though he did not fly. He had a falling out with his brother, who tried to put out a contract on the lives of Post and his sixth wife. In 1993, Post said, “Everybody dreams of winning money, but nobody realizes the nightmares that come out of the woodwork, or the problems.”

Post was found guilty of firing a shotgun at a man who had come to his Oil City mansion to collect a car-repair debt. After he served the sentence, he was reportedly living on a $450-per-month disability check. He had six marriages that ended in divorce and declared bankruptcy. Post died of respiratory failure at 66.

Willie Hurt won $3.1 million in 1989

Within two years of winning the Michigan lottery, Hurt was divorced, broke and charged with murder in the death of a 30-year-old woman in an alleged fight over crack cocaine. Witnesses said the couple had been drinking and doing drugs for two days before Hurt killed her.

Janite Lee won $18 million in 1993

Lee, who immigrated from South Korea, moved her family into a million-dollar home and was generous to a variety of causes, giving to politics, education and the community. But according to published reports, Lee filed for bankruptcy in 2001 with only $700 left in two bank accounts and no cash on hand.

Billie Bob Harrell Jr. won $31 million in 1997

Harrell bought a ranch and homes and cars for several family members and made sizeable donations to his church with his Texas lottery winnings. But Harrell spent and loaned money at a rate that put a strain on his marriage, and he and his wife separated. Just 20 months after winning the lottery, Harrell committed suicide. Time magazine reported that family members disputed the idea that Harrell could have committed suicide, even if he clearly wasn’t happy with his life. Harrell told a financial adviser shortly before his death that “Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me,” Time reported.

Victoria Zell won $11 million in 2001

Zell won the Minnesota Powerball jackpot with her husband, whom she was in the process of divorcing. From 2001 to 2004, Zell was charged with the possession of methamphetamines twice. In 2005, she spent a day drinking and using cocaine, and told passengers in her SUV should would show them “how to drive crazy.” She ran two stop signs and rolled the SUV, killing one passenger and paralyzing the other. She was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, and settled a civil lawsuit for far more money than she had left.

Michael Carroll won $15.5 million in 2002

Carroll was 19 when he won the lottery in England. By 2012, labeled the “Lotto Lout” in tabloids, he was broke, living on unemployment benefits and admittedly suicidal following a spending spree on cocaine, gambling and “thousands” of hookers. His wife left him, taking their daughter with her. Carroll told the Daily Mail that he “didn’t have two pennies to rub together.”

Jack Whittaker won $314 million in 2002

Whittaker was already a wealthy businessman in West Virginia when he won the jackpot. After he won, his car was broken into while he was at a strip club and $545,000 in cash was stolen. His granddaughter’s boyfriend was found dead from an overdose in Whittaker’s home and his granddaughter was found dead of an overdose at a friend’s house after she was reported missing. Whittaker was charged with DUI. He was sued by Caesars Atlantic City casino for bouncing $1.5 million worth of checks to cover gambling losses. He was also sued by a woman who had previously sued him for not paying her money. Also, Whittaker’s daughter was found dead. By 2006, Whittaker said he was broke.

Callie Rogers won $3 million in 2003

Rogers was only 16 when she won the U.K. lottery, and was reported to have used the money on vacations, gifts, cars and two breast implant surgeries. She twice attempted suicide before spending most of the money. She has since restarted her life with a new man and her children and is training as a nurse and says she is happier without the millions.

Abraham Shakespeare won $31 million in 2006

Shakespeare was generous with his Florida lottery winnings, giving money to anyone who asked for it. In 2009, Dee Dee Moore befriended Shakespeare, swindled what little money he had left and murdered him. Moore was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

But not all lottery winners go wrong. For example, Jim and Carolyn McCullar of Ephrata, Washington, won $190 million in 2011. They have set up trust funds for their four kids and 23 grandchildren, give generously to charity and still have millions left. 


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