Lottery Winner Horror Stories: Don't Copy Their Bad Habits!

Winning a lottery jackpot is a life-changing event. If you were lucky enough to win, you might immediately be inclined to spend your money on a new home, travel, and luxury items. But the most important advice you can get is to carefully plan, with the aid of professional advisors, how to spend and more importantly save, your money. Unfortunately, this advice is not always heeded. As can be seen in the following lottery winner horror stories, huge US Powerball and EuroMillions jackpot winnings can disappear as quickly as they arrive.

Our take: Don’t do what these lottery winners did!

Jackpot Winner's Tale of Robberies, Drugs, Murder, Gambling Debts, and a Horrific Fire

This story is so full of incredible tragedy that it's hard to believe it's true. Successful entrepreneur Andrew Jackson "Jack" Whittaker won a $324.9 million Powerball jackpot in 2002. After he pledged 10% of his winnings to Christian charities, Whittaker's life took a turn for the worse. In August 2003, thieves broke into his car and stole $545,000 in cash. Why did Whittaker carry around so much money? "Because I can," was his reply.

In September 2004, the 18-year-old boyfriend of Whittaker's granddaughter was found dead of an overdose in Whittaker's home. Just three months later, the granddaughter's body was found wrapped in plastic tarpaulin, dumped behind a van. The cause of death was listed as "undetermined".

Whittaker was sued for bouncing $1.5 million worth of checks when he tried to pay his gambling debts at the Caesars Atlantic City casino. In July 2009, Whittaker's daughter died in what appears to be a drug-related death. In December 2016, a fire broke out in Whittaker's Virginia home. The house was deemed a total loss. Whittaker said that his house was not insured. Needless to say, Whittaker was totally broke by this time.

Whittaker died on 27 June 2020. His obituary noted that he "enjoyed helping those in need, dancing and spending time with his family and friends," however media reports reminded readers that "his good luck took a tragic turn after his lottery win."

Our take: We're not sure how Whittaker could have prevented his misfortune, but if you win lottery prizes online with us, you can leave you winnings in your secured online account and withdraw at any time. Just don't leave the money in your car!

With Her $188 Million Winnings, She Posted Boyfriend’s Bail 3 Times

Since she won a $188 million Powerball jackpot in February 2015, Marie Holmes, a mother-of-four from Shallotte, North Carolina, has had to bail out her heroin-trafficking boyfriend, 31-year-old Lamarr McDow, three times! She posted his $3 million bond in March 2015, a $6 million bond in August and, on New Year’s Day she forked out $12 million to once again get Mr McDow out of jail. Additionally, Holmes has paid $1,470,000 in bail bondsmen fees – money she will never get back!

Our take: We understand that Marie really loves her boyfriend, but if he keeps getting thrown in jail, she might want to think carefully about their relationship.

Three Years after Winning the Lottery, the Money Is Gone and so Is the Winner

Day labourer Abraham Shakespeare, who had a long criminal record, won a $30 million Florida Lotto jackpot in 2006. Shakespeare freely gave away most of his money. A friend, DeeDee Moore, volunteered to help manage what was left. Shortly afterwards, Shakespeare disappeared. His body was discovered under a slab of cement, with two bullet holes in his chest. Moore was convicted of first degree murder.

Our take: It's great to gift money to family and friends, but be careful when someone volunteers to manage your wealth!

Jay Lost $35 Million on an All-Female Wrestling Competition

From rags to riches and back again. That about sums up the experience of 19-year old Jonathan “Jay” Vargas who won $35.3 million playing Powerball in 2008. And what did Jay do with his new-found wealth? Well, he started a professional all-female wrestling business under the name “Wrestlicious”. The women wrestlers were clad in revealing bikinis. After a mere one year of prime-time broadcasts, Wrestlicious was cancelled, reportedly sending Jay Vargas over the brink – he was completely bankrupt.

Our take: If you win a jackpot, you should hire a team of professional advisors to guide you. Going into the all-female wrestling industry might not be for everyone!

Michael Spent His Jackpot on Women, Gambling & Crack

Michael Carroll probably provides us with the best example of what not to do when you win the lottery. In 2002, when he was 19 years old and working as a garbage man, Michael won the pretty sum of £9 million (about $14.4 million). By 2003, the British tabloids were having a field day reporting on the behaviour of the reckless winner they called the “Lotto Lout". Michael had a $3,000 a day crack cocaine habit, not to mention his wild spending on prostitutes and gambling. By 2009, Michael’s gravy train came to a halt – he was out of money. He now packs biscuits in a Scottish factory for about $300 a week, but says he is happy: "I’ve only got one chance left –I’d have been dead in six months if I’d carried on that lifestyle of drinking and drug taking."

Our take: Not everyone can handle millions, and there are many winners who end up spending it all in a short amount of time.  While he must be disappointed that he didn't listen to a financial advisor, we're happy to hear that Michael is satisfied with his current lifestyle!

Will You Use Your Lottery Winnings Wisely?

You probably know what some lottery winners have done with their money. Some of them invested their winnings wisely while other ended up worse off than before. There is no substitute for solid financial advice and that is why we strongly recommend that you hire a qualified accountant and legal adviser if you are lucky enough to win a substantial lottery prize.

We hope that the above stories of past winners who squandered their winnings will serve as a stern warning to you. Don’t repeat these lottery horror stories! Good luck playing the lottery!