The Daily Dose Blog The Daily Dose Blog Home

Who Could Blow $640 Million?

Tales of mega-loss among lottery winners

By Rich_Maloof Mar 30, 2012 4:42PM

Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images News/Getty ImagesAt over $640,000,000 and climbing, tonight’s Mega-Millions draw promises the biggest lottery payday ever. It’s an incomprehensible number, really, and it’s equally hard to think of anything you couldn’t afford even after a few hundred mill goes to taxes. You could buy an island and a helicopter to get you there. You could bail your entire community out of debt. You could fill up your gas tank at least 8 or 10 times.

But does a lucky ticket amount to pennies from heaven or a deal with the devil? Beware that plenty of lottery winners past have been taken to unimaginable financial heights only to make spectacular and sometimes tragic falls. In case you’re the one to hit the numbers tonight, here are a few cautionary tales.

Abraham Shakespeare pegged the Florida Lottery in 2006 and took home a lump sum of  $17 million. Shakespeare was conservative with his winnings but, hounded by pleas for money, once told his brother, “I’d have been better off broke.” He had no idea how much better off: four years later his body was found under a concrete slab. A woman named DeeDee Moore, who had conned Shakespeare into a business deal and siphoned cash, professed innocence when questioned, but her defense began falling apart as authorities realized she was in possession of Shakespeare’s phone and had been texting his friends to pretend he was still alive.

Callie Rogers won a British lottery paying the equivalent of about USD $3 million at the tender and vulnerable age of 16. She bought homes for family members, but also burned untold thousands on vacations, clothes, and cars — and over $360,000 on cocaine. She has attempted suicide three times (found once, with bleeding wrists, by her drug dealer) and now lives at her mother’s house with her two children. At last report, Callie had less than $30,000 left in a bank account.  “I honestly wish I’d never won the lottery money,” Rogers said in a 2009 interview. “All that money has brought me is heartache.”

Billy Bob Harrell of Texas had a job stocking shelves in a Home Depot when he hit for $31 million in 1997. Deeply religious and kind-hearted, he lavished as much luxury on family and friends as he did on strangers and his beloved church. But Harrell’s life came undone as spending and lending took its toll: he once told a financial advisor, “Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me.” Less than two years after becoming a multimillionaire, with his marriage in tatters, Harrell took his own life with a shotgun.

Andrew "Jack" Whittaker won the Powerball on Christmas of 2002 — at $314 million, the West Virginian had won the biggest undivided jackpot in lottery history. A do-gooder and instant celebrity, easily recognized in his ever-present black duds and cowboy hat, Jack hired three people just to open the letters begging him for money. Of the $113 million he took home, Jack gave away $14 million and spent at least another $45 million on his own. Jack also lost money to thieves and cons, but his greatest losses were more deeply personal. His drug-addled granddaughter, Brandi, who’d also been pursued for the fortune of her “Paw Paw,” died in 2004 at age 17. His daughter Ginger, mother to Brandi, died in 2009. Whittaker has also been sued by the Caesars casino in Atlantic City for bouncing $1.5 million in checks to cover gambling losses.

William “Bud” Post III won the Pennsylvania lottery for $16.2 million in 1988. Bud had been an orphan and a drifter, but his biggest problems came with the money. According to the Washington Post, his brother tried to hire a contract killer to take out Bud and his wife (his sixth wife). His landlady forced a third of his jackpot from his hand. Bud squandered his remaining fortune on cars, motorcycles, and a sailboat. When a debt collector knocked on the door of his crumbling mansion, which had windows covered with plywood and a pool filled with junk, Bud fired a shotgun at him. Bud served a prison sentence, and at the time of his death from respiratory failure in 2006 was living on a monthly $450 check for disability. Sloshing around his decrepit home, he once told an interviewer through false teeth, “I was much happier when I was broke.”

Good luck with your numbers.

Feb 7, 2013 5:42PM

this is crazy, why do they not make it a draw that many people can win ....share the wealth...it is stupid to have one set amount...break it up to many draws to give more chance to people to win


Feb 7, 2013 5:49AM

Let me win a big lottory and nobody will get anything.  It will all be spent on me and me alone, and the only thing I need is a new set of tires from my truck.  When I die I will have twice as much money as when I started and it will go to various charities of my choice.


Oct 22, 2012 4:39AM

Just shows that one first needs to have a financial advisor or money planner to help them figure out how to properly handle that windfall so it doesn't ruin their lives. It doesn't cost that much and it will help make that money last for not just their own life, but leave enough to support their children and grandchildren.

Oct 8, 2012 10:57PM
spend 95% on wine, women&gambling and the other 5% i would just waste
Oct 7, 2012 6:24AM
Why would anyone let the Lottery use their Name to promote buying lottery tickets.  Set up a Trust Fund with an Attorney to protect Your Identity First.  Inform the Lottery that if they even try to find out who You are You'll spend Half of Your Winnings Advertising how dumb You have to be to even buy a Lottery Ticket to start with.  Think of all the T.V. spots You could run, with starving Wives & Kids looking shabby, while You line up to spend the last Dollar on a Losing Lottery Ticket.  Can I have this Candy, NO, 3 more Tickets Please.
Sep 22, 2012 7:33AM
A sudden windfall will test your character, so be ready for it! You'll also have to learn to say No to some people but not all. You'll also have to learn how to be discerning, wise and patient. If you are an impulsive type you will probably end up broke. Best to practice saying No to yourself now rather than after the fact. Just because there are bad stories out there doesn't mean you have to have one yourself!
Sep 22, 2012 5:57AM
i definitely would go back to school and study till finishing my education without worrying of paying rent and foods. that's it.
Sep 22, 2012 5:36AM
I know that I would never win, I don't have that good of luck, but I would pay off some debts, give back to my community, and then go live off the grid in another country I think... but since I know that won't happen. I will continue to live homeless, have nothing, and know that most people live by greed.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

inspire: live a better life

  • 13 ways to improve your life this spring

    13 ways to improve your life this spring

    No one looks forward to washing windows or storing the ski gear or the other chores associated with spring-cleaning. But this annual ritual does not have to be a drag, if you approach it in a slightly different way. "You've been cooped up with this cave-like mentality all winter; now it's time to break free and play," says R.D. Chin, a feng shui architect and consultant in New York City. "It's time to follow the cycle of nature, get rid of the clutter, and free up your mind." Here's our idea of what a truly effective spring-cleaning can look like.

  •  David Paul Morris, Bloomberg via Getty Images //  David Paul Morris, Bloomberg via Getty Images ( David Paul Morris, Bloomberg via Getty Images)

    Top Americans of all time named

    American presidents garner most votes over celebrities in a poll ranking the 100 most significant citizens.

  • The 10 coldest travel destinations on Earth

    The 10 coldest travel destinations on Earth

    Heading to a world-class beach town is always a safe bet for a great vacation, but if you want something that tests your limits, consider a more extreme spot. Here are 10 places around the world that require a winter coat year-round and offer spectacular glaciers, ice features, and the best snow anywhere.

  • 50 hidden gems in the US

    51 hidden gems in the US

    From the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty, the U.S. boasts world-famous national parks, historical sites and landmarks. Beyond the well-known locations, there's a wealth of undiscovered destinations stretching from coast to coast worth visiting. From scenic sand dunes to wild mountains, here's 51 places within America that you've probably never heard of.

  • Hudson Bay has old earth rocks

    10 interesting facts about the Earth

    How much do you really know about the Earth? In honor of Earth Day, April 22, we explore some interesting and fun facts about the fifth-largest planet of our solar system.

  • stress and happiness

    Beat stress and boost happiness

    Most of the stuff we worry about never happens.

  • How to end an email

    You've written an email, and need to wrap it up. You could end with a simple "Sincerely," tack on your name, and then shoot it out the door, proving definitively that you suck at communication.

  • Go where few have gone

    Craziest places to visit on the planet

    Here are nine of the most extreme trips on the planet -- and the outfitters that take adventurers over the edge and back again.

  • 10 serious adventures anyone can conquer

    10 serious adventures anyone can conquer

    A true challenge is within your reach. All it takes is a few months to get in shape and a few days off work.

  • How to set a world record

    How to set a world record

    Think you got what it takes to be included in the pages of the Guinness Book of World Records? We consult one of the judges to help you on your quest.

  • User-friendly home automation

    8 ways to smarten up your home

    Just a few years ago, the term "home automation" meant a bunch of blinking lights and a headache. But thanks to simpler interfaces and the rise of smartphones, new tech can transform your house into a safer, more comfortable, less wasteful place.

  • The 13 most annoying people on the airplane

    The 13 most annoying people on the airplane

    If you're like most people, flying around in a big metal tube in the sky isn't your idea of a fun time. From the terrible food to the cramped space, flying can be a miserable experience. Don't make the flight even more soul-sucking by breaking airplane etiquette. We've compiled a list of the worst-inflight offenders. by Rebecca Pattee

about rich maloof
buzzing now on msn living
inspire videos
editor's picks