We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Shutterstock/Tatiana Popova
Cash Money

Here are 21 lottery winners that blew it all

These are people who could have done with some financial advice.

THE POWERBALL LOTTERY in the United States, which was drawn during the week, had an estimated jackpot of $1.29 billion.

It’s the largest global lottery prize ever, but if you do the maths, buying a ticket probably won’t be worth it.

Even if it does pan out, winning the lottery will not solve all of life’s problems.

In fact, many people’s lives became notably worse after they got super rich, and they managed to lose it all quite quickly.

Lara and Roger Griffiths bought their dream home … and then life fell apart

Before they won a €2.54 million lottery jackpot in 2005, Lara and Roger Griffiths hardly ever argued.

Then they won and bought a million-dollar house and a Porsche.

shutterstock_154147349 Shutterstock / VanderWolf Images Shutterstock / VanderWolf Images / VanderWolf Images

But six years after their win, Roger drove away in the Porsche after Lara confronted him over emails suggesting that he was interested in another woman.

Their 14-year marriage was over, a freak fire gutted their house, and every penny of their fortune was gone.

Bud Post lost €14.92 million within a nightmarish year — his own brother put out a hit on him.

William “Bud” Post €14.92 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988 but was €900,000 in debt within a year.

“I wish it never happened,” Post said. “It was totally a nightmare.”

A former girlfriend successfully sued him for a share of his winnings and his brother was arrested for hiring a hit man to kill him in the hopes that he’d inherit a share of the winnings.

After sinking money into various family businesses, Post sank into debt and spent time in jail for firing a gun over the head of a bill collector.

Bud now lives quietly on €410 a month and food stamps.

Martyn and Kay Tott won a €4.6 million jackpot, but lost the ticket.

Martyn Tott, 33, and his 24-year-old wife from the UK missed out on a €4.6 million lottery fortune after losing their ticket.

They were able to convince officials, but since there is a 30-day time limit on reporting lost tickets, the jackpot became the largest unclaimed amount since the lottery began in 1994.

4940893730_ce74d18852_z Mark OU / Flickr Mark OU / Flickr / Flickr

“Thinking you’re going to have all that money is really liberating. Having it taken away has the opposite effect,” Kay Tott told The Daily Mail. “It drains the life from you and puts a terrible strain on your marriage. It was the cruelest torture imaginable.”

Sharon Tirabassi is back in the working class after winning €6.5 million 11 years ago.

In 2004, Sharon Tirabassi, a single mother who had been on welfare, cashed a check from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. for €6.5 million.

She subsequently spent her winnings on a “big house, fancy cars, designer clothes, lavish parties, exotic trips, handouts to family, loans to friends,” and in less than a decade she’s back “riding the bus, working part-time, and living in a rented house.”

Luckily, Tirabassi put some of her windfall in trusts for her six children, who can claim the money when they turn 26.

Evelyn Adams gambled it all away in Atlantic City.

Against all odds, in the mid-1980s, Adams won the lottery twice, once in 1985 and again in 1986.

The New Jersey native won a cool €5 million, but reports that she gambled it away at Atlantic City.

Today she resides in a trailer park.

Tonda Lynn Dickerson was forced to pay gift tax.

Tonda Lynn Dickerson, a former Waffle House waitress, got served a big plate of karma when she refused to split her winnings with ex-colleagues and was forced to pay the tax man €1 million.

How did it happen? Dickerson placed her winnings in a corporation and granted her family 51% of the stock — qualifying her for the tax.

Gerald Muswagon ended up feeling sorry for partying.

In 1998, Gerald Muswagon won the €6.5 million Super 7 jackpot in Canada.

But he blew it all on drinking and partying in only seven years.

Filled with remorse, Muswagon hanged himself in his parents’ garage in 2005.

Suzanne Mullins couldn’t dig herself out of debt.

When Mullins won the US lotto in 1993, she opted for yearly payouts instead of a lump sum, reports MSN.

She quickly found herself in debt, using future payouts as collateral for a €184,000 loan.

shutterstock_236029696 Shutterstock / thodonal88 Shutterstock / thodonal88 / thodonal88

Mullins later switched to a lump sum payout, but never paid back the debt. The loan company filed suit and won a €142,000 settlement that was all but worthless — Mullins had no assets.

Americo Lopes quit his job, lied about it, and then got sued.

Construction worker Americo Lopes won the New Jersey lottery, quit his job, and then lied about it, claiming that he needed foot surgery, reports The New York Times.

After coming clean to an ex-colleague, he and a few others ganged up on Lopes for not splitting the winnings as promised.

The court ordered Lopes to split the prize.

Ibi Roncaioli was murdered by her husband after she squandered her winnings.

Ontario resident Ibi Roncaioli walked away with €4.61 million in a 1991 Lotto 649 drawing, but she didn’t tell her husband how she decided to spend it.

When Joseph Roncaioli, a gynecologist, found out Ibi gave €1.84 million of her fortune to a secret child she’d had with another man, he poisoned her with painkillers, the Toronto Star reports.

He was found guilty of manslaughter and reportedly asked Ibi’s family to help foot the bill for her funeral.

Michael Carroll lived in the fast lane and blew it all.

Michael Carroll was at his peak when he won Britain’s £9.7 million— €13.82 million — jackpot in 2002, the Daily Mail reports.

But a penchant for life in the fast lane — cocaine, parties, hookers, and cars — put him back at square one in five years.

COURTS Lottery Chris Radburn / PA Chris Radburn / PA / PA

Last we heard, the ex-garbageman was hoping to get his old job back.

Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. was undone by casino lawsuits.

In 2002, West Virginia building contractor Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. walked away with €105 million after taxes on a €290 million multistate Powerball draw.

That was just about his last stroke of good fortune.

Thieves ran off with €500,000 Whittaker stashed in his car. Later on, he was sued by Caesar’s Atlantic City for allegedly bouncing €1.38 million in checks.

Within four years, his fortune was gone.

Billy Bob Harrell Jr. had his prayers answered, but his luck ran out after he couldn’t say no.

A Pentecostal preacher working as a stock boy at Home Depot got his prayers answeredwhen he hit the €28.5 million jackpot in 1997.

At first, life was good, with Billy Bob buying a ranch, six other homes, and some new cars.

But like many others who win the lottery, he just couldn’t say no when people asked for a handout.

Later in life he divorced and eventually committed suicide.

Willie Hurt’s crack addiction did him in.

In 1989, Willie won a €2.86 million jackpot in the Michigan Lottery.

Fast-forward two years later and Hurt got divorced, lost custody of his children, was charged with attempted murder, and picked up a crack-cocaine addiction.

crack cocaine Wikicommons Wikicommons

The habit was so bad that it sucked away his entire fortune.

Denise Rossi didn’t disclose the jackpot in her divorce filing.

When Denise Rossi won 1.2 million in the California lotto, she left her husband without a word, reports People magazine.

Thomas knew something was up, but agreed to divorce her anyway.

Two years later, he intercepted a letter at his new Los Angeles home revealing the truth.

He sued Denise for not disclosing her winnings in the divorce, and the judge awarded Thomas every cent.

Janite Lee blew her fortune on political donations.

After winning an €16.6 million lottery jackpot in 1993, Janite Lee’s earnings were gone within a decade.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Lee, a wigmaker from South Korea, blew her winnings on, of all things, charity.

A reading room was named after her at Washington University’s law school, and she was a major donor for the Democratic Party.

But her giving hand, coupled with a little gambling and a lot of credit-card debt, allegedly did her in. She filed for bankruptcy in 2001.

Luke Pittard wound up flipping burgers at McDonald’s.

Welsh-born Luke Pittard won a £1.3 million jackpot — €1.75 million — in 2006, but spent it all on a trip to the Canary Islands, a wedding, and a house.

mcdonalds Wikicommons Wikicommons

A year and a half later, Pittard was forced to take a job at McDonald’s flipping burgers.

He says he’s happy, and his leftover winnings collect interest.

Rhoda and Alex Toth both landed in court for tax evasion.

Alex and Rhoda Toth hit the €12 million jackpot in Florida in 1990. Within 15 years, they were destitute.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the couple declared bankruptcy and were eventually accused of tax evasion by the IRS.

Alex died before his case went to trial, and Rhoda eventually served two years in prison.

Vivian Nicholson was a clothes horse who couldn’t stop shopping.

Daily Mail UK reports that Vivian Nicholson got a taste of the good life when she won a fortune — £152,300 (€203,200) — in Britain’s football pools in 1961.

Too bad she blew it all filling her closet with haute couture.

Years later, Nicholson is jobless, a newly minted Jehovah’s Witness, and a widow. She’s also been married five times.

Teen mom Callie Rogers was too young to spend her money wisely.

Callie Rogers was just 16 when she won £1.9 million — about €2.75 million — in the UK’s lottery in 2003, and she was too young to know how to manage her money or where it would lead her, according to Gawker.

Rogers had two children and then blew the rest on partying, vacations, and gifts for her friends.

Now Rogers works as a cleaning woman and is reportedly facing bankruptcy.

Barry Shell used one of his last dollars to buy a lotto ticket.

Barry Shell won $4 million (€3.68 million) in the lottery in 2009 in Ontario, Canada, after he used the last of his cash to buy a ticket.

But there was a warrant out for his arrest on charges of theft and possessing stolen property, and police figured out where he was after seeing a photo of him with his prize. He gave his winnings to a relative. 

Read: There’s a tasty prize for tonight’s Lotto after eight weeks of rollovers

Also: One lucky Tipperary person just got a €1 million New Year’s boost

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Published with permission from
Business Insider
Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.