We all dream about winning the lottery. Even though the chances of winning are less than being eaten by a shark or struck by lightning (or something else just as crazy), we all still run to the convenience store to get a ticket at the last minute. We dream about what we’d spend the money on and practice the epic “I quit” speech for our bosses.
But there’s a dark side to lottery winning, as these folks show.
Here’s a list of all the insane stories of people winning the lottery and ruining their lives. From spending the winnings completely on drugs to being hunted down by hit men to investing in a secret life, you won’t believe the things money does to people. Some of these stories don’t even sound like real life, they are so incredible. Just wait until you get to number 12!
14. Tonda Lynn Dickerson
First lesson: always pay your taxes. For Tonda Lynn Dickerson, this lesson hit home. She got lucky and won $10 million while working at a waffle house. After being sued by several co-workers and a waffle house regular for not sharing the winnings, she ended up losing everything she won anyway because she “forgot” to pay the taxes. While this certainly isn’t a happy ending, we’re just easing you in. Keep reading to hear the really unbelievable stuff!
13. Roger and Lara Griffiths
This couple’s dream came true when they hit it big in 2005, but unfortunately, their dream quickly became a nightmare. After spending their winnings on extravagant vacations, outrageously expensive vehicles, and Roger’s efforts at becoming a famous musician, the couple struggled financially. It was then that their home caught fire and burned down. Sadly, their relationship ended and the two now live separate lives.
12. William “Bud’ Post III
This is one of the saddest stories you may ever hear. William “Bud” Post III was raised in an orphanage after his mother’s death when he was 8 and his father sent him away. He struggled all his life with money and relationships, including after he won the lottery. Post was sued by his landlady (and sometimes girlfriend) for not sharing the wealth and was ordered to give her one-third of his winnings. Then his brother hired a hit man to kill Post so he could have his money. By the time of his death, Post was $1 million in debt and lived on only $450 a month.
This one sounds like the storyline of a movie. Keith Gough’s wife won the lottery, causing the couple to do what every lottery winner does: quit their jobs and buy a mansion. But for Keith, it was too much and he began drinking heavily out of boredom and pressure. While going to rehab, he met a shady con-man who talked him into several corrupt deals and swindled him out of millions of dollars. Eventually, Keith’s alcoholism led to his unfortunate death in 2010. It’s definitely a sad story, but you haven’t heard anything yet! Just wait until you read number 6!
10. Luke Pittard
Perhaps we should all take a page out of Luke Pittard’s book. After winning the lottery back in July of 2006, he and his girlfriend spend the money on a beautiful wedding and a luxurious trip to the Canary Islands. After settling into a new mansion with his family, instead of carelessly spending his money, this millionaire decided to return to his old job at McDonalds saying that a little hard work never hurt anyone.
9. Janite Lee
Donating your winnings to philanthropic causes may be one of the most selfless ways to use your new fortune and seems not to happen as often as people promise before they win. Except in Janite Lee’s case. She donated to the Democratic Party and even had a library named after her at the Washington University School of Law. However, her charitable ways got a little out of control and she was forced to declare bankruptcy with only about $700 in the bank and $2.5 million in debt.
8. Denise Rossi
Here’s another thing to remember if you win the lottery: always claim your winnings. Unfortunately, Denise Rossi never told a single person (including her husband and her lawyers) about the fact that she won $1.3 million just 11 days before filing for divorce. When the court discovered that she kept it secret, she was ordered to give him all of her winnings.
7. Michael Carroll
It’s probably a good idea to seek advice from some wise people if you ever win it big. This is especially appropriate if you’re a teen when you win like Michael Carroll was. He went crazy spending his money on wild living and buying things like cocaine and prostitutes. Unfortunately, his sleazy binge had to end because he ran out of money. He was forced to live on benefits and go back to his job as a garbage man.
6. Ibi Roncaioli
This is one of the most unreal lottery horror stories out there. Ibi and Joseph Roncaioli seemed to be happy in their marriage, already living an affluent life because of Joseph’s gynecological practice but appearances can be deceiving. After Ibi won the lottery, she kept it secret. But that wasn’t all she kept secret. She had a second life that she kept from her husband including the existence of a child her husband knew nothing about and that’s where most of her money went. Soon after winning, she was found dead in her multi-million dollar home, and after a long case, her husband was found guilty of poisoning her. Think you’ve heard it all? This is nothing compared to number 5.
5. Jack Whittaker
Though Jack Whittaker already had quite a fortune behind his name as the president of a construction company, when he won the lottery, his life quickly became a mess both legally and personally. He was robbed several times and there was even a plot planned by owners of a strip club Whittaker often visited to drug him and steal more of his money. But nothing was as bad as when his beloved granddaughter was found dead from an overdose after being allowed to party with her grandfather’s winnings. His daughter’s death followed soon after.
4. Billie Bob Harrell, Jr.
Billie Bob thought his days of struggle and financial dependency were over when he won $31 million. He took his family on vacation, bought several beautiful homes, and gave almost all of the rest of his money away. It only took him a little over a year to be flat broke again and in a deep depression. His wife left him and soon after could not go on any longer. His son found his body in his home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It’s a sad fact that often lottery winners and their families suffer from their fortunes. For number 3, it was doubly bad.
3. Evelyn Adams
We all know how unlikely it is to win the lottery at all, let alone more than once, but Evelyn Adams did it. She won twice which is pretty mindblowing. The first time was in 1985 and then the very next year she won again in 1986. Sadly, though, she had a terrible gambling problem and gave the rest away to family and friends. She lives in a trailer now, poorer than ever.
2. Callie Rogers
This girl may be the youngest person to ever win the lottery. At the tender age of 16, she won $2.9 million. What did this girl spend her new wealth on? She got plastic surgery and spent about $380,000 on cocaine. She revealed later that the wealth was a curse and tried to commit suicide four times. Today, she is in a better place. She is going to school to be a nurse, in a healthy relationship, and caring for her three children. While this story has a happy ending, the next one doesn’t even come close. You won’t believe what money can turn people into.
1. Abraham Shakespeare
Abraham Shakespeare had the best intentions for spending his money after winning the lottery. The illiterate manual laborer from Florida would regularly give money to homeless people and invite them to spend the night in his home. After realizing that many of his friends only wanted to be around him for the money, he went into business with Dee Dee Moore. His family declared him missing soon after, and the police found his body buried under a cement slab in Dee Dee’s backyard. She illegally used most of his winnings and was convicted of first-degree murder with life in prison without parole.
Though there are some people out there who seem to be able to handle winning unbelievable amounts of money and maintain some degree of normalcy and balance, there are so many others who cannot. The pressure and freedom of suddenly having millions of dollars can quickly become a curse if not responsibly managed.
Still, we all dream about what winning the jackpot would be like, don’t we? We all think we could do better than these people, use our money in smarter ways and with some self-control.
That may not be true though. A whopping 70 percent of lottery winners end up broke within a few years and file bankruptcy at twice the rate of non-lottery winners.
Perhaps, after all, it’s a blessing that most of us will never get the chance to experience that curse.