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Biggie had it right when he said “Mo’ money mo’ problems”. Finding yourself up to your eyeballs in cold hard cash may seem like the answer to all your prayers but if you don’t know how to handle all this money (and the reality is most people don’t), winning the lottery can become a living nightmare. Following, are some of the worst cases of lottery disasters; the sad and foolish stories of how people have gone from top to rock-bottom, losing everything from their friends, their family and sometimes, their life.
1) Andrew Jackson “Jack” Whittaker was already a millionaire when he won the multistate Powerball lottery in December 2002. At 55 years-old, he was president of a contracting firm in West Virginia; he had a beautiful family, a big house, and drove a Lincoln Navigator. On December 25, 2002, Whittaker became the biggest single lottery winner in US history, winning a $314.9 million jack pot. His initial expenditures consisted of building churches and beginning a foundation for the less fortunate. But things spiraled out of control, very quickly.
Whittaker was robbed numerous times, once of more than $500,000 at a strip club. He became a heavy drinker. He and his wife divorced. He was accused of bouncing checks at Atlantic City casinos. And then to make matters even worse, his granddaughter Brandi, whom Whittaker bought four cars for and was very close to, was found dead of a drug overdose. A drug problem that was easily funded with the $2,100 per week allowance he gave her.
2) What are the odds that the winner of a $500,000 statewide lottery to benefit a nonprofit organization that aids victims of sexual abuse, would himself be a convicted sex offender? Probably more likely than the odds of winning a lottery. Yet, Alec Ahsoak, 53, convicted of molesting two girls under the age of 13 back in 1993, and another in 2000, won the half million jackpot. The media was quick to announce that the lotto winner was a repeated sex offender and this proved to be highly detrimental to his safety.
Ahsoak was walking down the street one afternoon, when he was approached by a man and two women, who asked him if he was the man who had won the $500,000 jackpot. Moments later, the man struck Ahsoak over the head with a tire iron (or metal pipe, police were unsure) eight to ten times. The injuries were not fatal, and it isn’t clear whether or not the attack was related to the lottery winnings as no money was stolen.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, Ahsoak’s victims did not believe that Ahsoak should benefit from the lottery, claiming the money should go to them instead.
3) Once upon a time, he was the winner of $16.2 million. Now, William “Bud” Post lives on Social Security and food stamps. It seems the second you get your hands on a lot of money, all sorts of people pop out of the woodwork with “great ideas” for you to invest in; desperate circumstances only you can save them from; or even surprise lawsuits.
Post was successfully sued by his former girlfriend for a share of his winnings. One of his brothers was arrested for hiring a hit man to kill him, so he could inherit a share of the winnings. His other siblings convinced him to invest in a car business as well as a restaurant, which were both unsuccessful. Post found himself $1 million in debt within one year, and was forced to declare bankruptcy.
4) Someone should have told Evelyn Adams not to push her luck after she won the New Jersey lottery for a second time- once in 1985 and again in 1986. A soft-spot for family and friends, as well as the Atlantic City casino, her inability to say no landed her in the trailer she lives in today.
5) Jeffrey Dampier was one of the few lottery winners trying to make a sound investment with his winnings. (If of course investing in a gourmet popcorn store sounds like a profitable and reasonable investment.) So he gave Kassie’s Gourmet Popcorn some small business grants and began reaping the rewards. Sure, he bought the extravagant gifts for his family, took them on vacation. The terrible tragedy came when Dampier was found shot dead in the back of a van, seven years after his winning. Police arrested his sister-in-law, Victora Jackson and her boyfriend, Nathanial Jackson (last names are coincidental) after kidnapping and murdering Dampier for his money.