Everyone appeared to be in a frenzy this weekend, ahead of Saturday’s Powerball Drawing -- which eclipsed more than one billion dollars.
All weekend, my roommate tried getting me to buy a ticket. “Two dollars is all it takes,” he would try and explain. “It could change your life.”
Obviously, a billion dollars would change my life. I’m just not sure I want that.
See, I had heard somewhere about this “curse” that lottery winners faced. According to the curse, a staggering number of lottery winners faced tumultuous declines in the time after striking it big with the lottery.
While I certainly was intrigued by the prospect of winning $900 million, I had to ask myself, “at the expense of what?”
As we awaited the winner of the now $1.3 billion prize, I did a little digging to gain a better understanding of this alleged “lottery curse.” Incredibly enough, what I saw, certainly didn’t encourage me to go buy any Powerball tickets anytime soon.
1. Urooj Khan
Khan almost retired from his days as a gambler before buying “one last” scratch-off at 7-Eleven in the summer of 2012. After “scratching off” a one million dollar prize, Khan expected his life to turn around for the better -- although what occurred was quite the contrary.
One f*cking day after Khan won that million dollars, he died...of what they believed natural causes. He was only 46 years old, which makes this story even more chilling to take in.
However, after doing more investigative reports, investigators found traces of cyanide in his autopsy.
The case has been reevaluated and treated like a homicide.
2. Billie Bob Harrell Jr.
Billie Bob Harrell Jr. won $31 million back in 1997.
Shortly after winning the money, Harrell went on a bit of a shopping spree -- quitting his jobs and spending an exorbitant amount of money on lavish gifts for himself and family (and also some charity).
Yet this is one terrible example of how money can’t buy happiness. Harrell and his wife split less than a year after winning the money, and Harrell was found dead in his apartment with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
3. Janite Lee
After winning $18 million, Janite Lee decided to move her family into a lavish gate community and spend the rest on “philanthropic” endeavors.
For a while, this proved to be a nice display of compassion -- leading up to her having dinner with Bill Clinton and Al Gore -- however, it didn’t last long. After selling her rights to annual payments for a lump sum, it wasn’t long before Janite’s fiscal allocation came back to bite her.
Only eight years after winning the lottery, Janite was broke.
4. Callie Rogers
UK teen Callie Rogers won the lottery at only 16 years old.
After winning nearly £1.9 million pounds, Rogers embarked on an extended shopping spree -- using the majority of the money for gifts for herself. However, this only taught her that money can’t buy happiness.
Paranoid that people were only trying to use her for her money, Rogers spiraled downward after hitting it big, going bankrupt before attempting suicide twice in the time afterward. She is reportedly doing better, today.
5. Jeffrey Dampier
Dampier won $20 million in 1996 and used the winnings to start a popcorn business.
Things became tragic for Dampier after his sister-in-law -- who he was sleeping with -- pulled a Judas, and arranged a plot to have him robbed and murdered (with the help of an accomplice).
Sadly for Dampier, she was successful, and Dampier was murdered just nine years after winning the lottery.
6. William Post III
William Post III won $16.2 million dollars in 1988, before watching his life spiral completely out of control in all but a couple months time.
For the first few months, Post spent money recklessly -- blowing the majority of the payments he received on superfluous investments like a used-car parking lot and an airplane. Before long, he found himself in debt -- and the wrong company. Reports showed that Post’s own brother put a hit out on his life.
Post died in 2006 due to respiratory failure, but after winning the $16.2 million, his life was never the same.
7. Andrew “Jack” Whittaker
Whittaker might’ve been the biggest and most unfortunate tale of misery and woe on this list.
Already worth $17 million, Whittaker won the largest Powerball jackpot of the time, estimated to be worth around $315 million in December of 2002. However, in his case, the little fiscal padding did not make his life any easier.
Although he was relatively more responsible with his winnings than some of the other names on this list, his lavish spending still made him a target -- making him a victim to a number of robberies in the mid 2000s.
From there on, misfortune just kept on finding Whittaker, who watched a number of family members pass away in the years after winning the lottery. After a number of legal cases and random acts of bad luck, Whittaker now finds himself broke.
He claims, “I wish I’d torn that ticket up.”