Lottery winners, despite overwhelming odds, are a rare few to win millions on the turn of a dime. Many are simple people just struggling to get by. Having their financial concerns suddenly vanish must feel good. However, there’s a darker side to winning the lottery. Many winners end up worse off than they were before, broke, deeper in debt, divorced, or worst of all, dead. Like the old saying goes, more money, more problems. Here are the 25 Worst Lottery Winner Horror Stories.
Marie Holmes worked at Wal-Mart when she discovered her “random” numbers placed in the lottery won $188 million. Soon after, her life was wrecked by lawsuits, bailing out her boyfriend from jail all the time, and multiple other poor financial decisions, leaving her emotionally and financially drained. Then, she found out her numbers weren’t so random after all and were carefully chosen by her mother. Her mother renounced her claim to the ticket and gave it to her daughter, Marie.
Curtis Sharp hit it big in 1982, winning $5 million dollars. He blew all of it in five years, spending about a million a year on family, cars, real estate, and women. Fast forward to today, and he’s a minister in Antioch, Tennessee. His advice to other winners is to get away to clear their head before spending any of it.
19-year-old Michael Carroll was already a small-time criminal with a police ankle bracelet on as he collected his lottery winnings of $14 million. He was quickly named “Lotto Lout” for buying a mansion and other lavish items, terrorizing the neighbors, and going through his money like water. It wasn’t long before he was broke and living on unemployment with his mother. He’s now said he’s lucky to collect his $300 a week wages from a cookie factory, but that his former lifestyle would have led him to an early grave.
Billie Bob Harrell Jr.
In 1997, Billie Bob Harrell Jr. thought his struggles were over. He won $30 million from the lottery and planned to live the easy life. After quitting his job at the Home Depot, he took his family on a Hawaiian vacation, bought family and friends houses, and donated tons of money to his church and charity. Unfortunately, he began to receive unwanted attention demanding money and also made a bad deal with a company that provides lump sum payments to lotto winners, getting much less than he originally would have received. After he and his wife separated, he went into a downward spiral and shot himself in the head. Before he died, he told his financial advisor, “Winning the lottery was the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Tonda Lynn Dickerson
Tonda Lynn Dickerson was a Waffle House waitress when she received the news she had won $10 million from the lottery. The other waitresses at the Waffle House were ecstatic because before they all bought tickets, they promised to split the winnings between them. Well, Tonda didn’t remember such an agreement and planned to keep the money herself. After that, her coworkers weren’t so happy and sued her. When all was said and done, they lost and she got to keep the money. Then, she was sued again by her boss who said he was promised a brand new truck. He took it all the way to the Alabama Supreme Court but lost each time. Realizing she needed to protect her assets, Tonda and her family created a corporation. But when she gave a gift in shares to her family through the corporation, the IRS came after her for not paying taxes on it. She fought them but ended up losing and having to pay roughly $1 million in taxes.
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