Join

Enter Details

Comment on stories, receive email newsletters & alerts.

@
This is your permanent identity for Business Insider Australia
Your email must be valid for account activation
Minimum of 8 standard keyboard characters

Subscribe

Email newsletters but will contain a brief summary of our top stories and news alerts.

Forgotten Password

Enter Details


Back to log in

17 lottery winners who blew it all

LotteryIBN/screenshot

The US Powerball lottery, which will be drawn on Wednesday evening, has an estimated jackpot of $450 million.

It’s a lot of money, 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.

Mandi Woodruff and Michael B. Kelley contributed to this report.

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

The Daily Mail

Before they won a $2.76 million lottery jackpot in 2005, Lara and Roger Griffiths hardly ever argued.

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

But six years after their win, Roger drove away in the Porsche after Lara confronted him over emails suggesting 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 $16.2 million within a nightmarish year -- his own brother put out a hit on him.

William 'Bud' Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988 but was $1 million 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 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 $450 a month and food stamps.

Sharon Tirabassi is back in the working class after winning $10 million 11 years ago.

IBN/screenshot

In 2004, Sharon Tirabassi, a single mother who had been on welfare, cashed a check from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. for $10,569,00.10 (Canadian).

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 $5.4 million, but AskMen.com reports she gambled it away at Atlantic City.

Today she resides in a trailer park.

Tonda Lynn Dickerson was forced to pay gift tax.

A former Waffle House waitress named Tonda Lynn Dickerson 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 $1,119,347.90.

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

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 $200,000 loan.

Mullins later switched to a lump sum payout, but never paid back the debt. The loan company filed suit and won a $154,000 settlement that was all but worthless -- Mullins had no assets.

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

AP Images

Construction worker Americo Lopes won the New Jersey lottery, quit his job, and then lied about it, claiming 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 Roncailoli walked away with $5 million in a 1991 Lotto 649 drawing, but she didn't tell her husband how she decided to spend it.

When Joseph Roncailoli, a gynecologist, found out Ibi gave $2 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 ($15 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.

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 $114 million after taxes on a $315 million multi-state Powerball draw.

That was just about his last stroke of good fortune.

Thieves ran off with $545,000 Whittaker stashed in his car. Later on, he was sued by Caesar's Atlantic City for allegedly bouncing $1.5 million in checks.

Within four years, his fortune was gone.

Willie Hurt's crack addiction did him in.

In 1989, Willie won a $3.1 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.

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

Janite Lee blew her fortune on political donations.

After winning an $18 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.

Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

Welsh-born Luke Pittard won a £1.3 million jackpot ($1.9 million) in 2006, but spent it all on a trip to the Canary Islands, a wedding, and a house.

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 $13 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 passed away 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.

Not a photo of Vivian Nicholson.

Daily Mail UK reports Vivian Nicholson got a taste of the good life when she won a fortune -- £152,300 -- 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 mum Callie Rogers was too young to spend her money wisely.

Not a photo of Callie Rogers.

Callie Rogers was just 16 years old when she won £1.9 million in the U.K.'s lottery (about $3 million) in 2003 -- too young to know how to manage her money or where it would lead her, according to Gawker.

Rogers had two children 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.

Cafeterra.info

Barry Shell won $4 million Canadian dollars in the Ontario lottery in 2009 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.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn