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Lottery Winner Horror Stories

19 Lottery Winners Who Blew It All

Although it seems like winning the lottery would solve your problems, this isn't always the case. In fact, for a lot of previous winners, they ended up right back where they started from, or worse! Our partner site Business Insider has collected lottery horror stories about winners who didn't really win in the end:

As America salivates over the $590 million Powerball prize won by a Floridian, we're reminded that winning the lottery will not solve all problems.

In fact many people's lives became notably worse after they got super rich, and they managed to lose it all in no time.

RELATED: This Man Is A Shining Example Of What To Do If You Win The Lottery

  • The Griffiths bought their dream home then life fell apart
  • Before they won a $2.76 million lottery jackpot, Lara and Robert Griffith hardly ever argued. They bought a million-dollar house and a Porsche.

    But 18 months ago, six years after their win, Robert drove away in the Porsche after Lara confronted him over emails suggesting he was interested in another woman. Their 14-year marriage was over, a freak fire gutted their house, and every penny of their fortune was gone.

  • Tirabassi is back in the working class after winning $10 million nine years ago
  • In 2004, Sharon Tirabassi, a single mother who had been on welfare, cashed a check from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. for $10,569,00.10 (Canadian). She subsequently spent her winnings on a "big house, fancy cars, designer clothes, lavish parties, exotic trips, handouts to family, loans to friends" and in less than a decade she's back riding the bus, working part-time, and living in a rented house. Luckily Tirabassi put some of her windfall in trusts for her six children, who can claim the money when they turn 26.

Read on for more.

  • Tonda Lynn Dickerson was forced to pay gift tax
  • A former Waffle House waitress named Tonda Lynn Dickerson got served a big plate of karma when she refused to split her winnings with ex-colleagues and was forced to pay the tax man $1,119,347.90.

    How did it happen? Dickerson placed her winnings in a corporation and granted her family 51 percent of the stock — qualifying her for the tax.

  • Suzanne Mullins couldn't dig herself out of debt
  • When Mullins won the U.S. lotto in 1993, she opted for yearly payouts instead of a lump sum, reports MSN. She quickly found herself in debt, using future payouts as collateral for a $200,000 loan.

    Mullins later switched to a lump sum payout, but never paid back the debt. The loan company filed suit and won a $154,000,000 settlement that was all but worthless — Mullins had no assets.

  • Americo Lopes quit his job, lied about it, then got sued
  • Construction worker Americo Lopes won the New Jersey lottery, quit his job and then lied about it, claiming he needed foot surgery. After coming clean to an ex-colleague, he and a few others ganged up on Lopes for not splitting the winnings as promised.

    Sadly, the court ordered Lopes to split the prize.

  • Ibi Roncaioli was murdered by her husband after she squandered her winnings
  • Ontario resident Ibi Roncailoli walked away with $5 million in a 1991 Lotto 649 drawing, but she didn't tell her husband how she decided to spend it. When Joseph Roncailoli, a gynecologist, found out Ibi gave $2 million of her fortune to a secret child she'd had with another man, he poisoned her with painkillers, the Toronto Star reports.

    He was found guilty of manslaughter and reportedly asked Ibi's family to help foot the bill for her funeral.

  • Evelyn Adams gambled it away in Atlantic City
  • Against all odds, in the mid-1980s Adams won the lottery twice, once in 1985 and again in 1986. The New Jersey native won a cool $5.4 million, but AskMen.com reports she gambled it all away at Atlantic City.

    Today she resides in a trailer park.

  • Michael Carroll had a fetish for hookers
  • Michael Carroll was at his peak when he won Britain's £9.7 million ($15 million) jackpot in 2002, The Week reports. But a penchant for life in the fast lane — cocaine, parties, hookers, and cars — put him back at square one in five years.

    Last we heard, the ex-garbageman was hoping to get his old job back.

  • Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. was undone by casino lawsuits
  • In 2002, West Virginia building contractor Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. walked away with $114 million after taxes on a $315 Million multi-state Powerball draw.That was just about his last stroke of good fortune. In two separate instances, thieves ran off with $745,000 Whittaker stashed in his car. Later on, he was sued by Caesar's Atlantic City for allegedly bouncing $1.5 million in checks.

    Within four years, his fortune was gone.

  • Billy Bob Harrell Jr. had his prayers answered, but his luck ran out
  • A Pentecostal preacher working as a stockboy at Home Depot got his prayers answered when he hit the $31 million jackpot in 1997, Business Pundit reports. At first, life was good with Billy Bob buying a ranch, six other homes and some new cars. But like many others who win the lottery, he just couldn't say "NO!" when people asked for a handout.

    Later in life he divorced and eventually committed suicide.

  • Willie Hurt's crack addiction did him in
  • In 1989, Willie won a $3.1 million jackpot in the Michigan Lottery. Fast-forward to two years later and Hurt got divorced, lost custody of his children, was charged with attempted murder, and picked up one helluva crack-cocaine addiction.

    The habit was so bad, it sucked away his entire fortune.

  • Denise Rossi didn't disclose the jackpot in her divorce filing
  • When Denise Rossi won $1.3 million in the California lotto, she left her husband without a word, reports People's Pam Lambert. Thomas knew something was up, but agreed to divorce her anyway.

    Two years later, he intercepted a letter at his new L.A. pad revealing the truth. He sued Denise for not disclosing her winnings in the divorce, and the judge awarded Thomas every cent.

  • Wigmaker Janite Lee blew her fortune on political donations
  • After winning an $18 million lottery jackpot in 1993, Janite Lee's earnings were gone within a decade. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports Lee, a wigmaker from South Korea, blew her winnings on, of all things, charity. A reading room was named after her at Washington University's law school, and she was a major donor for the Democratic Party.

    But her giving hand, coupled with a little gambling and a lot of credit card debt, allegedly did her in. She filed for bankruptcy in 2001.

  • Luke Pittard wound up flipping burgers at McDonald's
  • Welsh-born Luke Pittard won a £1.3 million jackpot ($1.9 million) in 2006, but spent it all on a trip to the Canary Islands, a wedding and a house. A year and a half later, Pittard was forced to take a job at McDonald's flipping burgers.

    He says he's happy, and his leftover winnings collect interest.

  • William Post suffered a series of unfortunate events
  • God was listening in 1988 when William "Bud" Post won Pennsylvania's $16.2 million jackpot, reports the Beaver County Times. But one bad thing started happening after another. An ex-girlfriend sued him for a share of the winnings and won; his brother hired a hit man hoping to inherit some winnings; and relatives incessantly bugged him for money, MSN reports.

    Within a year, Post was $1 million in debt and filing for bankruptcy. Now he lives on food stamps and a $450/month stipend.

  • Gerald Muswagon ended up feeling sorry for partying
  • In 1998, Gerald Muswagon won the $10 million Super 7jackpot in Canada, reports BigLotteryWinners.com. But he blew it all on drinking and partying in only seven years.

    Filled with remorse, Muswagon hanged himself in his parents' garage in 2005.

  • Rhoda and Alex Toth both landed in court for tax evasion
  • Alex and Rhoda Toth hit the $13 million jackpot in Florida in 1990. Within 15 years they were destitute. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the couple declared bankruptcy and were eventually accused of tax evasion by the IRS.

    Alex passed away before his case went to trial and Rhoda eventually served two years in prison.

  • Vivian Nicholson was a clothes horse who couldn't stop shopping
  • Daily Mail UK reports Vivian Nicholson got a taste of the good life when she won a fortune—£152,300—in Britain's football pools in 1961. Too bad she blew it all filling her closet with haute couture.

    Years later, Nicholson is jobless, a newly-minted Jehovah's Witness and a widow. She's also been married five times.

  • Teen mom Callie Rogers was too young to spend her money wisely
  • Callie Rogers was just 16 when she won £1.9 in the U.K.'s lottery (about $3 million) in 2003; too young to know how to manage her money or where it would lead her (Via/Gawker). Rogers hooked up with a loser, had two children, then blew the rest on partying, vacations and gifts for her friends.

    Now Rogers works as a cleaning woman and is reportedly facing bankruptcy.

–Mandi Woodruff and Michael Kelly

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