We’ve all wondered what would be like to win the lottery and what it all that money could do for us and the lives of those we love most. It’s the stuff of dreams but for 99.999% of players, winning the lottery will remain a dream and little else.
However, there has to be a winner and even if takes weeks or sometimes even months of rollovers, there will eventually be one or maybe even a handful of lucky recipients.
With that in mind, you’d think those who beat such astronomically high odds would be wise with their spending. But there are many cases where winning the Lottery proved too much and in the end gave them more problems than they’d started with.
Here are 17 people who won the lottery then lost it all.
1. LARA AND ROGER GRIFFITHS
Be careful what you wish for is an old proverb that many often ignore in life, and it is evident this love-struck couple didn’t foresee the unintended consequences of what an instant wad of cash would do to their marriage. In fact, only six years after winning $2.76m, the British couple split up shortly before a fire destroyed their million dollar house; rendering them both penniless.
2. WILLIAM POST
Some people just aren’t cut out to deal with wealth; especially when it’s given to you overnight. One such example of this is the American William Post who held the winning ticket in a 1998 Pensalvaniyan lottery. Collecting a whopping $16.2m, the American found himself $1m in debt within the space of a year. Quite how he managed to blow such wealth in so little time isn’t entirely known, but Post made headlines when his brother hired an assassin to kill him in the hopes he would inherit his fortune while a former ex-flame sued him for a share of his winnings.
Years later, Post, who also spent time in jail for pointing a gun at a debt collector, now lives modestly on $450 a month.
Speaking about his lottery experience he said, “I wish it never happened, it was a total nightmare,” Post said, years after the win.
3. MARTYN AND KAY TOTT
While many lotto winners lose their winnings from financial ineptitude, the idiocy displayed by the Tott’s is just as bad; if not a tad more forgivable.
Resting on a $5m fortune, the couple immediately recognised their numbers. The only problem was they couldn’t find the ticket. And while they were able to convince lottery officials in England, the deadline for reporting lost tickets (30 days after the draw) had already passed. Ouch.
4. SHARON TIRABASSI
Sharon Tirabassi blew $10m (Canadian) in little over a decade and is now living in rented accommodation having spent the majority of the winnings on ‘fancy cars, designer clothes, lavish parties, exotic trips, handouts to family, and loans to friends.’
Perhaps Sharon’s only saving grace is the money she put in her children’s trust funds- fund which cannot be accessed until they turn 26.
5. EVELYN ADAMS
While winning the lottery once defies all reasonable logic, winning it twice is unheard of. But that’s what Evelyn Adams experienced when she purchased two winning tickets within the space of the year, only to blow her overall winnings of $5m a year later. The reason? She gambled it away in New Jersey’s famed Atlantic City casinos.
6. GERALD MUSWAGON
When Mr. Muswagon won $10m on the Canadian lottery, he and his family must have thought they were set.But as is the case with many winners, acclimatising to a windfall of immediate cash proved tricky and instead of investing it into something sustainable, he purchased a house designed for large-scale parties.
Unsurprisingly, the hedonistic lifestyle quickly ripped a whole through his pockets, and eventually the lotto winner had no choice but to return to work. Distraught with what he had done to himself and his family, Muswagon hanged himself 17 years after the win.
7. SUZANNE MULLINS
When Suzanne Mullins won a respectable $4.2m in 1993, she did what many would call a sensible decision and opted for monthly instalments instead of receiving it in one lump-sum. But early signs of financial prudence didn’t translate into a happy ending for Mullins, who would go on to lose every penny after quickly finding herself riddled with debts.
8. AMERICO LOPES
While some winners are uneducated and a tad stupid, Lopes was neither. But he was highly surreptitious, and when he quit his job, he lied about the reason and instead cited foot surgery for his resignation. With suspicions raised, workers, who had been promised a cut of any possible lottery winnings purchased by Lopes, soon cottoned onto his new life and sued him in court. The judge ruled in their favour.
9. IBI RONCAIOLI
Most lottery stories involving tragedy usually include a complete loss of winnings but in Ibi Roncaioli’s case, her $5m winnings cost her her life. Murdered by her husband who had found out she had secretly given $2m away to a child she had had with another man, the husband, who would later be charged with manslaughter after poisoning her with painkillers, was rumoured to have asked his dead wife’s family if they could pay for the funeral.
10. MICHAEL CARROLL
Nicknamed the ‘Lotto Lout’ by the British press, Michael Carroll was still on probation when he won $15m.
Before his prison stint, Carroll was a binman but after living life in the fast lane- a lane which included hookers, cocaine, and various other vices- Carroll lost it all and is now thought to have returned to his old job.
11. BILLY BOB HARRELL JR.
A Pentecostal preacher working as a stockboy at his local Home Depot got his prayers answered when he hit the $31 million jackpot in 1997. But as well as buying a ranch, six other homes, and some new cars, Billy Bob had a penchant for saying yes to anyone who asked for financial help, and after he had divorced his wife, Billy Bob was all but broke, leading the Pastor to take his life soon after.
12. WILLIE HURT
When Willie Hurt won the $3.1 million jackpot in the Michigan Lottery, you’d be forgiven for thinking his worst days were behind him. But two years later, Hurt got divorced, lost custody of his children and was even charged with attempted homicide. To cope with the stress, Hurt turned to crack-cocaine, and it wasn’t long before he got hooked.
Today, Hurt is penniless.
13. DENISE ROSSI
Money makes many people act funny, and that truism was certainly apparent in the case of Denise Rossi, who, after winning $1.5m, swiftly divorced her husband without telling him of their win. Two years later, however, her husband received a letter of hers at his Los Angeles home which he opened. Revealing everything, the husband sued her in a court of law and wound up winning the case, with the judge ordering Rossi to give all the winnings to her ex-husband.
14. JANITE LEE
Most people who blow their lottery fortunes do so on extravagant items, such as fast cars, yachts, and designer clothes. However, for Janite Lee, her $18m jackpot was lost in less familiar fashion. A political aficionado, Lee regularly donated to political campaigns and also gave generously to a plethora of charitable foundations. It was her generosity, many argue, that saw Lee squander her entire fortune in just 8 years.
15. LUKE PITTARD
While Luke Pittard was forced to re-apply for his old job at his local McDonald’s having spent a vast majority of his $1.9m winnings on a holiday to the Canary Islands, Pittard still collects more money in interest from the remaining winnings than he does from his job at the fast food eatery.
16. CALLIE ROGERS
Teen mum Callie Rogers was just 16-years-old when she won $3m on the British lottery. Still holding the record for being Britain’s youngest ever lottery winner, Callie was deemed by many to be far too young to be in charge of such wealth. And, after blowing it all on parties, vacations and gifts, the single mother of two proved the doubters right and now makes ends meet as a part-time cleaner.
17. Barry Shell
Barry Shell made headlines across the world when he won $4 million Canadian dollars in the Ontario lottery. But it wasn’t just because of his good fortune. No, in a story that beggared belief, Shell had a warrant out for his arrest on charges relating to theft but still went ahead with the publicity that winners are allowed to opt out of. Not long after the con’s ill-judged move, police arrested the lotto winner and fugitive, and he was eventually forced to give his millions to a relative.