Money Drove Them Crazy: Jackpot Winners Who Went Mad After Winning
We’ve all heard the famous saying, “money can’t buy you happiness.” We also all have our own opinion on whether this is true or not, but what many of us miss is that getting a large amount of money can seem to provide the winner with the complete opposite.
Although it seems a little gloomy to focus on those who won and lost it all in a short period of time, there is a hidden benefit behind studying their stories. Basically, we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes.
To make sure that none of our readers get that dreaded winner madness we have collected together some of the worst examples in modern times and highlighted all of the lessons that we can take from these winners/losers.
The Science Behind The Madness
- Look Out For Others – Sometimes you don’t even need to be the one that is corrupted by the money which you won. Jealousy is a powerful motivator, and it can often lead to your loved ones being the most dangerous part about winning big.
- Doing The Right Thing Too Much – As we are programmed to be “good”, sometimes this can become an obsession with those that win a large amount of money. There have been many cases where millions have been given away, right up to the point of bankruptcy.
- Money Can’t Buy Time – Often those that gamble, especially with the lottery, are hoping to get a lump sum of cash before some set deadline. Sometimes the money comes in, but just not at the right time.
- Poor Gambling Choices – Many people that win in gambling get hooked on the chance of winning and then start to make poor choices when it comes to when and where to gamble. Not only can this lead to losing money very quickly, but if not controlled, can introduce you to some people you’d rather had never met.
- A Bad Influence – Many winners end up being fine with having won a lot of money, but it can often be those around you that lose their way. Although we have mentioned there can be problems with jealousy, there is also the issue with husbands, wives, and children taking the money for granted and getting into all sorts of trouble.
The Biggest Winners That Quickly Became Losers
Here is our list of profiles of those that won everything only to lose it quickly afterwards.
Name: William ‘Bud’ Post
Amount Won: $16.2 million
Spending Streak: 1988-1996
His Story: As soon as Post won the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988, his problems began. A range of shady individuals appeared from every corner of his life claiming Post owed them money. This included his landlady that took millions of dollars from him, a brother who eventually hired a hitman to take Post out and a range of other debt collectors.
The End Result: Post died in 2006 after living on a disability cheque of $450 for a month.
Name: Urooj Khan
Amount Won: $425,000 after taxes
Spending Streak: Never received his winnings.
His Story: After winning $1 million on a lottery ticket, Urooj Khan was ready to relax into the good life. On 20th July, only days before his collection date, Khan was found dead. At first it was reported that Khan had died of natural causes, but after being investigated further, it was found that he had lethal levels of cyanide in his blood. Although the culprit has not been found, there are a range of suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and Chicago police did not rule out the motive being Khan’s recent winnings.
The End Result: The lottery winnings were split between Khan’s daughter, Jasmeen, and Khan’s widow, Shabana Ansari.
Name: Janite Lee
Amount Won: $18 million
Spending Streak: 1993-1997
Her Story: Lee migrated from North Korea to the United States, and it wasn’t long before she won the lottery jackpot in St. Louis. Her initial spending was noble and she poured millions of dollars into her local community. Lee oversaw a range of construction projects and donated so much that she became ranked as the 31st ‘soft money’ donor in the United States. Eventually many of Lee’s projects started to fall through, and she turned to excessive gambling.
The End Result: Lee filed for bankruptcy in 1997.
Name: Sharon Tirabassi
Amount Won: $10 million
Spending Streak: 2004-2014
Her Story: Tirabassi won the Ontario lottery and immediately started spending. She bought a huge home, filled it with amazing purchases and had an endless stream of parties. Tirabassi also gave away a lot of money to family and friends over the ten years losing all her fortune in the end.
The End Result: Tirabassi is now back riding the bus, living in a rented house and working part-time. Luckily for her six children, she placed some of her winnings in trust funds that they will receive once they are 26 years old.
Name: Jack Whittaker
Amount Won: $315 million
Spending Streak: 2002-2004
His Story: Whittaker won the Powerball jackpot on Christmas Day, which seemed like a dream come true. This was the case until Whittaker realised that everyone around him wanted a piece of the prize, even strangers. He quickly turned to excessive drinking and was usually found in strip clubs. In addition to his own use and abuse of the money, Whittaker poured his wealth into the lavish lifestyle of his 17-year-old granddaughter Brandi Bragg. She spent thousands on chartered planes, luxurious purchases and an endless supply of crack cocaine. After Whittaker’s marriage fell apart, he descended even further into a sordid life. In 2004 Brandi was found dead having suffered from an overdose.
The End Result: Whittaker was reported having said that he wished he had torn the lottery ticket up before any of this had ever happened.
Name: Michael Carroll
Amount Won: $15 million
Spending Streak: 2002-2010
His Story: As soon as Carroll won the jackpot, he quickly spent as much as he could on gifts for every one of his friends and family members. Once this lost its novelty he turned to parties, cars, cocaine and prostitutes. His millions were gone in just under 8 years of extreme spending.
The End Result: In 2010 Carroll was aiming to get his old job back, as a bin man. He is also reported to have said that life is much simpler living off of unemployment benefits.
Name: Evelyn Adams
Amount Won: $5.4 million
Spending Streak: 1985/86-2001
Her Story: Adams is one of the luckiest and unluckiest individuals on our list. She won her state lottery twice! The total came to $5.4 million, and the majority of that went into the Atlantic City casinos. She was a compulsive gambler and not very good at it either.
The End Result: By 2001 Adams was living in a trailer and back to the life she had before she won the lottery.
Name: Wayne Schenk
Amount Won: $1 million
Spending Streak: Needed more than the initial payment.
His Story: Schenk was suffering from lung cancer and when he won the New York lottery he thought that all of his hopes had been answered. Schenk was undergoing some very expensive treatments and didn’t have the necessary health insurance to cover the costs. For his specialised care he needed $125,000, which easily fell within his winnings. Sadly, the New York State lottery only permitted Schenk access to twenty installments of $50,000. Schenk died not long after receiving the first payment.
The End Result: In his final days Schenk decided to marry his longtime girlfriend, Joan DeClerck, so she could enjoy his winnings. She is reported to have said, “You finally did it!” at the ceremony held at their friend’s home.
Learning From Their Mistakes
If you follow these 5 golden rules you can avoid ending up like one of our unfortunate winners:
- Carefully Share The Wealth – Not giving your family and friends anything they want, as well as opposite can be equally dangerous. This seems to be a tightrope that needs to be walked cautiously at all times. Give enough so everyone is happy, but not too much so that you end up with nothing left.
- Spend A Little On Protection – No matter how well you manage those around you, there will always be those corrupted by money. If your winnings are sizeable, then it would make a lot of sense to get a few big guys in dark suits watching your back.
- Protect You From Yourself – All the bodyguards in the world won’t be able to protect you from yourself. If you think that you are likely to be mislead by your money, then there is a range of systems that can be put in place to limit spending. You can also have a financial expert put in control of your precious fortune.
- Plan Out Your Spending – Most of the time when you win at gambling, especially with the lottery, you will be paid in installments. Many winners make the mistake of immediately spending a great deal of money before the jackpot winnings will arrive. This can lead to the need for heavily-weighted loans and losing money before you even get the full amount.
- Avoid Vices – Obviously you will want to enjoy your money, but one of the biggest mistakes the majority of our losers made is that they took up vices that are highly addictive and incredibly expensive. It is very rare that you see a drug addict that also has a lot of money, and you will find out that any habit will quickly eat away at a large sum, no matter how impossible it might seem to be able to spend it.