The Stupidest Lottery Winners Ever
When Mavis Wanczyk of Massachusetts won a $758.7 million Powerball jackpot in August 2017, the second highest jackpot prize ever, we couldn’t help but imagine ourselves in her shoes. Playing the biggest American lottery, the Powerball, would make all our dreams come true. Even if we splurged on luxury purchases and holidays, and even if we gave away some of our good fortune to family and made generous donations to charity, we would still have enough money left to secure our financial future, and that of our children as well.
One of the most important pieces of advice any lottery winner can get is to hire a team of financial advisors to plan what to do with their prize money. But apparently not every jackpot winner makes this sort of wise decision. Nearly 70 percent of people who suddenly come into a large amount of money end up losing it within a few years, according to a study conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education. And Dan McNay, the author of Life Lessons from the Lottery says, “So many [lottery winners] wind up unhappy or wind up broke.”
Reading the stories of those who squandered their fortunes, one can’t help but think that these people are probably the stupidest lottery winners ever.
Georgia resident Ronnie Music, Jr. won $3 million in a scratch card game in 2015 and used his fortune to buy a large amount of methamphetamine. Apparently he saw this as a business investment because he became a member of a multi-state drug organization. A short time after his lottery win, Music was sent to 21 years in federal prison “for his role in a drug trafficking conspiracy and for possessing a cache of firearms as a convicted felon.”
Michael Carroll was probably the happiest man around when he won £9.7 million playing Lotto in 2002. But a huge portion of Michael’s fortune fuelled his crack cocaine addiction. His splurges on gold jewellery, a fleet of cars, gambling, and regular visits to hookers blew away his millions and he ended up poorer than he was before winning the lottery.
Callie Rogers was just 16 years old when she won a £1,875,000 Lotto jackpot in 2003. She immediately quit her low-paying job and began spending her winnings. Callie paid for two boob jobs, fancy clothing, expensive sports cars, exotic holidays, and gifts to friends. She also had an addiction to cocaine. Within a short time, Callie was broke and it is reported that she even considered suicide. Luckily, Callie turned her life around and is now a happy mother of three.
Jonathan Vargas of South Carolina was 19 when he won a $35.3 million Powerball jackpot in May 2008. Vargas used his prize money to create “Wrestlicious”, a televised wrestling promotion featuring scantily-clad women. The show went bust after a year. After a number of other bad investments, Vargas ended up bankrupt.
Probably the stupidest lottery winner of all time is Jack Whittaker of West Virginia. He was the sole winner of a $315.9 Powerball jackpot in December 2002. After his win, everything in Whittaker’s life went wrong. He spent his money on alcohol and at strip clubs. He kept huge amounts of cash in his car, only to have it stolen, twice. His granddaughter’s boyfriend died from a drug overdose in Whittaker’s home and then his granddaughter was found dead from an overdose as well. Whittaker was arrested for drunk driving and he was sued for using bounced checks to cover gambling losses. In 2009, his daughter was found dead, although foul play was ruled out. And in December 2016, Whittaker’s Virginia home was completely destroyed in a fire. About his lottery win, Whittaker said he wished that he had “torn that ticket up.”
These tales of stupid lottery winners should be seen as a word of caution. If you are lucky enough to win the lottery one day, you should be careful what you do with your prize money!