Lottery Winners, Their Stories, and How They Lost It All

Lottery Winners and how they lost it all

As of this article, Mega Millions and the Powerball jackpots combined is around $2 billion USD.  The only ones guaranteed to win this jackpot is the IRS.

There's gonna be a nice tax bill waiting at the end of the rainbow for whoever wins this. We've all heard stories of people living it up once they've won the prize, but what happens to the ones who didn't make it out on top? 

For some, their lives took a turn for the worse. Hard to believe, right? Here are a few reasons you may NOT want to win the Mega Millions jackpot. 

Sharon Tirabassi is back to work

Sharon Tirabassi was on welfare when she won $10 million in the Ontario lottery. She did what most people did when they won the lottery and bought a huge house, expensive cars, clothes, vacations, donate money to friends/family. But after 10 years, Sharon decided to go back to work. Luckily, she had money set aside for her 6 children who will claim their trust money once they turn 26. 

Evelyn Adams lost it all in Atlantic City

In the 1980s, Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey lottery...TWICE. Her winnings totaled $5.4 million. She was famous as you can imagine from all of the media attention that she had gotten after winning two lotteries. That meant that people she hadn't seen in years would show up asking for money. Eventually, Adams gambled all of her money away in Atlantic City and it all went into the hands of the casinos. 

Lara and Roger Griffiths, of England

Let's start with Lara and Roger Griffiths, of England.  They won a $2.76 million lottery jackpot and bought the home of their dreams... a million-dollar barn-converted house and a Porsche. They went around the world. In 2010, a fire took down their underinsured home. That's just the beginning. Roger took the Porsche after his wife Lara found out he was cheating on her. 

Bud Post had a brother who tried to kill him

William "Bud" Post won Pennsylvania's lottery in 1988. He scored $16.2 million. Within the first year, he was $1 million in debt. His girlfriend sued him (and won) a third of his lottery winnings while his own brother put a hit out on him so that he could inherit his money. As with most lottery winners, they become CEOs in businesses that sometimes fail. Bud was knee-deep in debt and was jailed after he fired a gun at a bill collector. Bill died in 2006 and was living on food stamps. 

Martyn and Kay Tott lost their lottery ticket

Imagine being high on top of the world and sinking to the deepest part of it when you realize that you've lost your $5 million lotto ticket. That's what happened to Martyn Tott, 33, and Kay Tott, 24. The UK's lottery officials confirmed that there was a winning ticket that was sold. The couple had 30 days to find that winning lottery ticket, but never did. After that, the lottery winnings will go unclaimed, and it did. 

Suzanne Mullins fell into debt and never climbed out

Suzanne Mullins won the Virginia Lotto in 1993, the jackpot, $4.2 million bucks. She opted for the yearly payments between her husband and daughter. That broke down to about $47,000 a year for Suzanne. So how did she get herself into debt? She spent about $1 million on her son-in-law's medical bills. She decided to use the future payouts to secure a $200,000 loan to help with expenses. She was then able to switch from the yearly payments to the lump sum, but never paid back the $200,000 loan. When the loan company went after their money, they were out of luck, Mullens didn't have any assets. 

Americo Lopes went in with his co-workers but took all of the money

Americo Lopes quit his job after winning the  New Jersey lottery. He told his co-workers that he needed foot surgery. Later on, he told a former co-worker the truth and they sued Lopes for not sharing the winnings after they chipped in for it. Lopes later shared his winnings after losing the case. 

Billy Bob Harrell Jr. gave all of his money away

Billy Bob Harrell Jr. was a preacher and stocker at Home Depot. He won $31 million in a Texas lottery in 1997. He, of course, quit his job and traveled around before getting a ranch, a few homes, cars and foot the bill on 480 turkeys for the poor during holidays. He also had a hard time saying no to people who needed help and eventually squandered it all. The sad part was that his marriage failed because of it and he later committed suicide. 

Tonda Lynn Dickerson ended up paying the tax bill

Former waitress, Tonda Dickerson refused to split her winnings with her co-workers after Dickerson won $10 million from a lotto ticket that was given to her as a tip by a customer named Edward Seward. She threw all her winnings in a corporation and set her family up with 51% ownership in it. She ended up paying the IRS gift tax of $1,119,347.90. 

Gerald Muswagon partied it up and ended up having to go back to work

Gerald Muswagon won the Super 7 $10 million jackpot in Canada in 1998. He did what others before him had done in the same situation, spent it on cards, mansion, businesses, drugs, and booze.  

He started a logging business that didn't do too well. In fact, he had to go back to work at his friend's farm just to pay the bills. He eventually committed suicide by hanging in his parents' home in 2005. 

Denise Rossi's greed led to her losing it all

Denise Rossi was a $1.3 million winner in the California Lotto. She immediately asked her husband Thomas for a divorce without even telling him about her new fortune. After the divorce, he later found out about her secret and sued her for every penny of it. Guess what?  The judge gave him EVERY PENNY. Had she been honest with him from the beginning of the divorce, she would've enjoyed some of that $$$. 

Ibi Roncaioli won $5 million and was murdered by her husband

Ibi Roncaioli of Ontario won $5 million in 1991 in the Lotto/649 drawing. Her husband, Joseph Roncaioli learned that she gave away $2 million of it to her secret child that she had with another man and poisoned her using painkillers. Joseph was found guilty. 

Michael Carroll spent it all

19 years old, Michael Carroll, won Britain's $15 million USD jackpot in 2002. Unfortunately, he got involved with partying, drugs and hookers. In 5 years, he was broke again. 

Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. was robbed and then sued by a casino

Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. won $315 million in a Powerball draw in 2002. For some reason, he stored $745,000 of it in his car. He lost it on two separate occasions when thieves made off with it. He was later sued by Ceasar's Atlantic City for $1.5 million for bounced checks. His fortune was completely gone in just 4 years. 

Does money buy happiness? 

Don't get me wrong, there are happy endings out there for lottery winners too.  But all too often, money seems to change people in ways that they never thought of. Be careful what you wish for.