Winning the lottery. It's the American Dream of achieving great wealth and status after doing absolutely nothing to deserve it. But for the 12 lottery winners in today's post, you'll see how quickly that dream can turn into a....wait for it...nightmare.
William Post III won $16.2 million dollars in the lottery. A mere two years later, he was quoted as saying that he “was happier when he was poor.” Post’s first mistake was taking the lump sum payment for his winnings instead of the installments that would have ensured that the money lasted a little longer. He quickly spent almost a million dollars in the first three months after his big day – much of it going to family members and their investment schemes. Post was trying to be a good guy, but all he could do was watch as each and every one of the family businesses failed miserably.
Things took a darker turn when police discovered that Post’s brother-in-law had hired a hit man to kill him so that his wife (Post’s sister) would collect a large inheritance. The murderous plan failed, but Post ended up declaring bankruptcy the very next year – and even ended up in jail for firing a gun at a debt collector.
With a name like Billie Bob, the odds were stacked against this Texas lottery winner from the start. He won $31 million in 1997 and did what most people in his position would do – he quit his job at the Home Depot and immediately took off for a Hawaiian vacation. Harrell was a heck of a guy too – donating tens of thousands of dollars to his favorite charities. But Harrell had taken a lump sum payment that was financed by a very shady company, and sooner than anyone thought possible, he had lost all his winnings. His wife left him soon thereafter – leaving Harrell depressed and destitute. He would commit suicide via gunshot would a mere 20 months after winning the lottery.
Possibly the greatest name in the history of lottery winners, Abraham Shakespeare remains one of the saddest tales ever. He won $20 million dollars in the Florida Lottery and gave lots of it away to family, friends and pretty much anyone else who said they were in need. He then met a woman named Dee Dee More who quickly became his best friend and financial advisor. But Dee Dee was bad bad and soon Shakespeare was reported as missing. Friends and family were momentarily reassured when they received a series of text messages from him saying that he was OK and just needed to get away for a while on a long vacation.
That was good news, until they remembered that Abraham was functionally illiterate – and that there was no way he could have written the finely crafted texts. When his dead body was finally found, Dee Dee tried to blame the other hangers-on in Shakespeare’s circle. But it was to no avail, as she was convicted of first degree murder in 2011. Shakespeare’s winnings were all gone at the time of his death – and his family was broke, worse off than they were before Abraham’s numbers hit.
Poor Jeffrey Dampier. All he wanted to do after winning $20 million dollars in the lottery was to start his dream business – a gourmet popcorn company that would take care of him and his family financially for generations. Dampier though had been having an affair with his own sister-in-law. But she had a boyfriend too – and together they lured Jeffrey into a private spot, then robbed him at gunpoint and killed him when they were through.
Roger and Lara Griffiths were a fun-loving married couple living in the UK when they hit a lottery jackpot worth over $3 million. Roger used the money to indulge his inner rock god and in an admittedly awesome move, put his college rock band back together and used a good chunk of his winnings to finance the production of their first album (and, presumably, some really kick ass t-shirts). Lara was happy to just spend her share on clothes. Lots and lots of clothes. They did make ONE significant investment, however: a huge mansion where they would be able to live out the rest of their days in comfort.
That is, until it burnt to the ground leaving the couple as poor as they were before they won it big with their matching numbers.
Evelyn Adams was on Cloud 9 when she won the New Jersey Lottery – so there’s no telling how she felt when she won it AGAIN the following year for a total haul of $5.4 million. Problem was, Evelyn also had a huge gambling problem (which, ironically, is likely why she was playing the lottery in the first place). Five and half million bucks should have been enough to set anyone up for life, but Evelyn just could not stop gambling. She blew every single cent and wound up living in a trailer – far from the homes she could have purchased with a few bucks that she never managed to save.
Nobody is going to argue that Michael Carroll didn’t have a good time after he won $14 million in the lottery back in 2002. His vices were cocaine and hookers – and he indulged in both to a degree that would have made a Roman Emperor (or Charlie Sheen) blush. A teenage garbage worker when he won the money in 2002, Carroll would end up working in a cookie factory to make ends meet after his addiction help clean out his bank account.
Tonya Lynn Dickerson might not have known it at the time, but she was about to receive one of the swiftest lessons in karma ever recorded on planet Earth. You see, Tonya was working at a Waffle House in North Carolina when a regular customer who liked to “tip” the waitresses with lottery tickets left her an entry into the Lotto that would end up winning her over $10 million.
Story was however, that all the servers at the restaurant had agreed to split the winnings if any of them won big with one of their tip-tickets. Dickerson had other ideas – and refused to split the money with her co-workers. They even filed a law suit against her, which she somehow managed to win, thus keeping all her dough.
But though beating a bunch of breakfast-serving Waffle gals may be easy, it is damn near impossible to defeat the IRS when they have you in their cross-hairs. The well-funded and aggressive government agency went after Dickerson with full force for unpaid taxes and ended up stripping her of pretty much everything.
Karma, you are so nasty sometimes. You ought to be ashamed of yourself…and so should you have been, Tonya.
You would think that winning the lottery would help take you to a different station in life. Maybe you buy yourself a country club membership and start watching the habits of successful people, or heck, you could probably afford every self-help book about money management ever made. Willie Hurt however did neither of these things when he won the lottery back in 1981 to the tune of about $3 million dollars.
Hurt blew all the money on crack cocaine. And just when you figured the worst was over for the man, he was charged with the murder of a friend – a crime that would send him to prison for the rest of his life.
Thomas and Denise Rossi were the kind of happy married couple that just made you want to puke. That’s how happy they were every day. But then one day, the strangest thing happened – out of the blue after a quarter century of marriage, Denise asked Thomas for a divorce. He was stunned, that is until he found out that Denise had just won about a million and a half dollars in the lottery!
Funny thing is, because Denise was so underhanded, Thomas was able to sue her and, in the court case that followed, win ALL of the money his wife had tried to sneak by him when she asked him to take a hike. And even funnier (if you have a dark sense of humor like us) is the fact that if she had just been honest and upfront – and told him about the money BEFORE she asked for a divorce, she would have gotten half of the cash. Which, last time we checked, is much much better than nothing.
Edwards, the former drug addict and convicted felon, was NOT the kind of guy that the Florida Lottery liked to put up on their posters and ad campaigns. But that didn’t stop him from winning $27 million in 2001 when he matched all the numbers on his ticket.
Old David did what most folks would – he bought a fancy house, some race horses, a Lear Jet, a Lamborghini and a fiber optics company (OK, maybe not all of us would have bought that last one). But before long he started using drugs again – this time with no financial restraints to hold back his habit. David would soon be arrested for possession of crack cocaine, pills and heroin.
In the saddest epilogue possible, David Lee Edwards lost everything he owned – and wound up living in a storage locker surrounded by his own feces.
Oh Urooj, you poor soul.
Urooj Khan won $1 million cold hard cash in Chicago in 2012 after playing the Illinois State Lottery. Then he dropped dead the day after he won. An autopsy then revealed that the cause of Khan’s death was…cyanide poisoning! The man’s own family (his sister-in-law and her father) were suspects but were never charged in the crime that remains unsolved to this day.
Not everybody ended up a loser in this story – Khan’s widow and the couple’s daughter ended up splitting the money after Urooj passed away.