21 lottery winners who blew it all

As the Powerball jackpot in the US nears $US500 million, we’re reminded that 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.

And most of the stories are sadder than you’d expect.

Mandi Woodruff contributed to this report.

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

Before they won a $US2.76 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.

Martyn and Kay Tott won a $5 million jackpot, but lost the ticket.

Martyn Tott, 33, and his 24-year-old wife from the UK missed out on a $US5 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 the largest unclaimed amount since the lottery began in 1994.

'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 $10 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 $US10,569,00.10 (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.

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

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

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 $US5 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 $US2 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 ($US15 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 $US114 million after taxes on a $US315 million multi-state Powerball draw.

That was just about his last stroke of good fortune.

In two separate instances, thieves ran off with $US745,000 Whittaker stashed in his car. Later on, he was sued by Caesar's Atlantic City for allegedly bouncing $US1.5 million in checks.

Within four years, his fortune was gone.

Luke Pittard wound up flipping burgers at McDonald's.

Welsh-born Luke Pittard won a £1.3 million jackpot ($US1.9 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 $US13 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.

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

Barry Shell won $US4 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.

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