Powerball Beware: Unbelievable Misfortunes of Lottery Winners Turned Losers

Tuesday, 27 Nov 2012 04:12 PM

By Peter Moses

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While millions of Americans are flocking to stores selling tickets to Wednesday’s record $500 million Powerball jackpot, winning a giant wad of cash doesn’t guarantee happiness to those whose numbers line up with the ping pong balls those lottery gals use to show the winning digits.

As a matter of fact, a fair number of rags-to-riches lottery winners end up arrested, in the poor house, a murder victim, and in at least one case, a suicide.

West Virginia businessman Jack Whittaker won $315 million in Powerball in 2002, at the time the largest single jackpot in American lottery history.

Did he live happily ever after? No, he was robbed of $545,000 in cash while at a strip club, his granddaughter and daughter were later found dead, and Whittaker was sued by an Atlantic City casino for bouncing $1.5 million worth of checks to cover gambling losses.

A New Jersey woman, Evelyn Adams, won the New Jersey lottery not once, but twice, in 1985 and 1986, taking home $5.4 million. But her twin happy days didn’t work out as she now lives in a trailer, all her money gone.

She was a gambler and lost much of her fortune to other games of chance.

“I made mistakes, some I regret, some I don't," she told reporter Ellen Goodstein. “I'm human. I can't go back now so I just go forward, one step at a time."

In 1998, Pensylvanian William "Bud" Post III won $16.2 million. His brother hired a hit man to try to kill him and his sixth wife, while other relatives borrowed money that ended up being invested in businesses that failed. He was also jailed for firing a gun over the head of a bill collector and died bankrupt in 2006.

In Florida, Abraham Shakespeare won a $31 million jackpot in 2006, disappeared in 2009, and his body was found in early 2010 under a concrete slab. Billie Bob Harrell Jr. won $31 million in 1996. He ended up depressed over feeling people were using him and 20 months after winning his fortune he killed himself.

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