Sometimes winning big in the lottery is more of a curse than a prize. These winners learned the hard way that hitting the jackpot big is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Winning the lottery seems like a dream come true. Especially if the jackpot is hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. But as as people like Ian Galtress (who straight up lost his winning ticket) and Janite Lee (who spent all hers on philanthropic pursuits) learned, sometimes a big win is more of a curse than a prize.
Consider This a Divorce
Denise Rossi won over a million dollars playing the lottery. That seems like more than enough cash to share with the immediate family, like, say, the husband? But Denise didn’t see it that way. She divorced her husband without telling him she was suddenly a millionaire. When he found out about it he was less than impressed. He sued her and won all of the money.
Share and Share Alike
If you pool your money with co-workers to buy lottery tickets, the assumption is that a winning ticket belongs to all of you. ALL OF YOU. But Americo Lopes «forgot» that when he quit his job because he «needed serious surgery» right after winning a large jackpot. Turns out the winning ticket was bought as part of an office pool and his co-workers were not happy he took off with their winnings as well. Waitress Tonda Lynn had a similar situation. Her colleagues said they had a verbal agreement to split the money if any of them ever won big. Tonda conveniently forgot that when she claimed her prize.
We Are Family
It’s amazing how many family members you never interact with suddenly turn up when you have money. William «Bud» Post learned this the hard way. He won the lottery and everyone he knew was demanding money from him. His girlfriend sued him, his brother tried to hire a hitman to kill him, and other assorted relations encouraged him to invest his winnings — badly. He probably found himself wishing he had been an orphan.
Jeffrey Dampier was actually a rather smart lottery winner. He invested his money wisely so it would take care of him the rest of his life. Unfortunately his family didn’t care for his responsible plan. He was shot by his sister and brother-in-law so they could inherit his winnings.
Etta May Urquhart also put her trust in the wrong family member. She was so excited and anxious when she won her jackpot that she wasn’t sure she could sign off to claim it. She sent her son to do so in her stead. That turned out to be a bad idea. He went shopping and she ended up with nothing.
With Age Comes Wisdom
It’s hard enough for adults to handle a sudden influx of money. For a teenager who hasn’t learned how to be financially responsible yet the task seems like it would be impossible. Sixteen-year-old Callie Rogers certainly didn’t help dispel that notion. She went on a spending spree with her jackpot and wasted it all on drugs, parties, and boob jobs.
Of course, Evelyn Adams, who won the lotto TWICE (in 1985 and 1986) was an adult when she got her money. She still made the same mistake Callie did. She became a fan of gambling and the money that could have kept her comfortable for the rest of her life was gone within just two decades.
Winner Vivian Nichols in 1961 straight up said she was going to spend all of her lottery winnings. Then she went ahead and followed through on that promise. Her money was gone in a matter of a few years, leaving her bankrupt.
Breaking the Law
Criminals are not always smart. Take Alex Ahsoak for instance. He was a sexual predator that abused children. Instead of laying low, he won the lottery, basked in media attention, and had his crimes unearthed for the world to know. He was brutally attacked shortly afterward.
Amanda Clayton pulled a similar move. She was on welfare when she took home her prize. Instead of going through the motions to live on the money she had won, she stayed on welfare. She was caught and charged with fraud, and died of an overdose soon after.
Michael Carroll started off with a shopping spree and ended up in jail. He took his easy-come money and spent it on houses and cars. Then he held illegal demolition derbies in his backyard. The authorities punished him accordingly. Timothy Elliot did his criminal activity the opposite way. He committed armed robbery to pay for lotto tickets and ended up on probation that said he could not play anymore. He ignored that, bought some tickets, won, and then lost all his money because that win was not legal.