10 Lottery Winners Who Lost it All
Money isn’t everything, as the saying goes. And for some lottery winners, this particular adage is especially pertinent. Because for every gaggle of jackpot millionaires,there are always some who just can’t keep hold of their winnings no matter how hard they try.
Then there are others who don’t even attempt to offer the pretence of frugality and proceed to throw their cash at everything that moves. What follows is a veritable rogue’s gallery of members from both unfortunate groups.
In lottery land, this gentleman needs no introduction. Known as the ‘King of Chavs’, a moniker he came up with all by himself, Carroll was the lucky recipient of £9.7 million courtesy of the National Lottery. Despite initially claiming that he wouldn’t squander his winnings, he proceeded to do just that, blowing his money on drugs, women, fast cars and, um, chunky jewellery.The level of Carroll’s spending was such that within a decade, he was broke.
The wild parties had taken their toll, not just on Carroll but his neighbours too, who were even provided with an emergency hotline to report his anti-social behaviour. And although he’d been savvy enough to set up an investment bond, exorbitant withdrawal fees meant that by 2010 he’d pretty much lost everything. Carroll now spends his days working in a biscuit factory.
Jeffrey Dampier is one of those lose-it-all-lottery-winners who experienced appallingly bad luck. For Dampier though, his misfortune was not down to imprudent or profligate investments, but because he had a sister-in-law who was unscrupulous when it came to money. After struggling financially for most of his life, Dampier struck it lucky on the Illinois State Lottery, winning $20 million.
To celebrate, he lavished his friends and family with gifts. One of the chief benefactors of his new-found wealth was his wife’s sister, Victoria Jackson. However, at the behest of his wife, who had discovered that he’d been having an affair with Victoria, Jeffrey abruptly stopped the cash-flow. Enraged, Victoria and her boyfriend Nathaniel conspired to murder Dampier – both received multiple life sentences.
For a good number of lottery winners, poor money-management skills prove to be their downfall, often because they never had much cash to speak of in the first place. And so it was forWilliam ‘Bud’ Post who, at the time of his windfall, had around $3.00 in his bank account. Opting for annuity payments of $500,000, Post went through the first payment like a hot knife through butter, spending $300,000 within 3 weeks. Some three months later he was actually in debt after forking out on a car lot, a restaurant and an aeroplane.
Post then decided to buy a run-down mansion which was mortgaged to the hilt. As the money began to dwindle away his landlady took him to court, claiming that he had promised to share his winnings – she was awarded a third of the total. As a result, Post had to sell his house to pay her. After serving a jail term for shooting at a debt collector, he eventually returned to the life of a pauper.
Lou Eisenberg won a $5 million jackpot in 1981 which was at that time, the largest lottery pay-out ever. Before his substantial stroke of fortune, Eisenberg made his living by changing light bulbs for around $245 a week. Once his money was in the bank however, he quit his job and embarked on a spending spree that included beach-side properties, holidays to Hawaii and Europe as well as numerous trips to the local dog track. Following a divorce from his second wife, in which he had to pay her a substantial chunk of his winnings, most of the money had gone. By 2001, he’d cashed his last lottery cheque and was back to square one.
Billy Bob Harrell Jr
This unfortunate gentleman was simply unable to cope with the attention that major lottery winners seem to attract. After winning more than $30 million on the Texas State Lottery, Harrell decided to take annuity payments and began to do the things you’d expect of an overnight millionaire; that is spend, spend and spend some more. He took his family to Hawaii, bought gifts for his friends and family and donated to his local church.
However, given the very public nature of his lottery triumph, Harrell and his family soon started to get harassed by people for various donations, causing them to change telephone numbers on numerous occasions. The pressure soon got to Harrell’s wife and they eventually divorced. And after being duped by a company that gave lump sum payments to lottery winners in exchange for their cheque, Harrell tragically took his own life.
At 16 years of age, Callie Rogers remains the youngest UK lottery winner. So she can perhaps be forgiven for her wasteful spending habits, which began has soon as his her estimated £1.9 was safely secured. Like most youngsters, Roger’s priority was to have fun and, to this end, she parted with the most of her substantial jackpot over the next decade or so.
A combination of partying, holidays, drugs and a spot of cosmetic surgery put a lasting dent in her finances which she never recovered from. However, unlike some of the other entries in this tragic post, Rogers did actually live happily ever after, albeit without her winnings. She currently resides in Cumbria with her husband and son.
You’d think being destitute and impoverished would galvanise most people into behavingfrugally, should big money every come their way. But as countless lotter winners have consistently shown, not having a pot to pass water in, nor indeed a window to throw it out of, is by no means a guarantee. Take Sharon Tirabassi for instance. After living in shelters as a teenager and relying on welfare payments to support her children, Ms Tirabassi won $10 million on the Ontario Lottery.
But rather than putting the brakes on and taking stock, she soon set to work spending her prize on expensive holidays, designer clothes and a $500,000 property. She also invested in numerous cars including a Dodge Charger, a Mustang as well as a Cadillac complete with turn-tables and sound-mixers. Thankfully, with just $750,000 left in the bank Tirabissi finally came to her senses and promptly put what was left in a trust fund for her children. She now commutes by bus to her part-time job as a care-worker.
Mr Griffiths won £1.8 million back in 2005 and made a number of extravagant purchases including a barn-conversion property, a Porsche Carrera and a Lexus 4×4. He also enjoyed a number of luxury holidays to New York and Monaco. Unfortunately, due his wife’s voracious appetite for plastic surgery and expensive clothes, the purse strings started to tighten.
Matters also weren’t helped by Mr Griffiths attempt to reform his old band, which set him back around £25,000 in studio fees, of which a grand total of £0 was recouped by way of a top-ten single. The coup de grace finally came when he invested his remaining money in a number of properties including a beauty salon which unfortunately fell on its manicured face within months.
Vivian “Viv” Nicholson
Vivian Nicholson is an iconic figure whose face adorned magazines, tabloid newspapers as well as album covers by The Smiths. Her legendary status was firmly established when she cheerfully promised to ‘spend, spend, spend’ the £152,000 (£5 million today) pools prize money that her husband Keith had won; she was as good as her word. Nicholson and her husband shelled out on fur coats, expensive jewellery, luxury holidays, as well as numerous champagne parties.
They also bought a large, ranch-style house to live in. Sadly for Nicholson, the psychological effects of being exposed to such a fortune took their toll and her life began to take a downward spiral. After her husband tragically died in a car crash, the money soon began to drain away as creditors as well as the tax man declared her bankrupt. Although she managed to get some of the money back, it didn’t last very long.
Roberts won £3.1 million on the UK lottery in 1998 and set about blowing the lot almost immediately. The former security guard bought 40 top-of-the-range cars, a mock Tudor mansion in Blackpool (yes they do exist) and also managed to run up a £40,000 hotel bill.
But what really hit his wallet the hardest was the moronic investment advice he was given by his so-called friends which included buying a pub. Although Roberts thought he was the owner, it later transpired that his name wasn’t even on the deeds. By just 2001, he’d lost it all and hadalso managed to accrue debts of over £20,000. He now lives in a caravan – a sad case that permanently resides in the ‘don’t rely on friends for investment advice’ file.
These ten unfortunate souls provide a stark reminder of how easily money can corrupt and seduce. And they’re certainly not isolated cases. There are literally hundreds of people who just weren’t able to cope with the sheer amount of money thrown at them. Although we gently mock what appears at face-value to be mindless profligacy, every one of these people (well almost) deserves a degree of sympathy. After all, it’s not every day that you’re made rich beyond your wildest dreams.