10 Lottery Winners Who Won Big and Lost It All

By Krystal Brown

The lottery possesses an extraordinary ability to revolutionize regular lives, swiftly elevating individuals to millionaire status and bestowing upon them the keys to unfathomable affluence. Yet, for a handful of ill-fated individuals, the ultimate dream swiftly morphed into a haunting reality as their freshly acquired wealth slipped away, leaving them with naught but broken aspirations and cautionary anecdotes.

Denise Rossi

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Denise Rossi took home $1.3 million in a California lottery in 1996. A few days later, she divorced her spouse of 25 years. She kept the money a secret from him. Her spouse learned and filed a lawsuit against her two years later. The outcome? Rossi was told by the judge to deliver her winnings from the lottery to her husband in full.

Sharon Tirabassi

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In 2004, Sharon Tirabassi, then 35, won $10 million in Canadian dollars. She’d spent it all after a ten-year spending binge that included expensive homes, vehicles, clothing, getaways, parties, and gifts to family members. She is back to working regular jobs and renting a home in Ontario with her spouse.

William Bud Post

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William Bud Post hit the jackpot in 1988, pocketing $16.2 million in total. He moved from owning $2.46 in the bank and relying on disability payments to controlling millions of dollars overnight. Post’s luck ran out, unfortunately. He was sued by his ex-girlfriend for a third of his inheritance, one of his siblings hired a hitman to assassinate him, and at age 66, he passed away penniless.

Gerald Muswagon 

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In 1998, Gerald Muswagon earned CAD 10 million. But the spotlight and money ended up being a bad mix. He quickly blew all of his millions, and to support his growing family, he was forced to work as a farmhand. Muswagon tragically committed suicide seven years after hitting the jackpot.

Michael Carroll

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Michael Carroll, a waste collector from the United Kingdom, earned about £10 million in 2002. He had just turned 19 years old. His fall from grace was his use of alcohol and drugs and countless visits to brothels. Five years later, he was broke and had to return to his previous employment.

Janite Lee

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Janite Lee won a stunning $18 million on a lottery ticket almost thirty years ago when she was employed in an Illinois wig business. She began earning a yearly salary of $620,000, which she primarily used for charitable causes. Unfortunately, Lee eventually surrendered the rights to this payout in exchange for a flat amount. After less than ten years, she filed for bankruptcy after accruing a debt of $2.5 million.

Jeffrey Dampier

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In 1996, Jeffrey Dampier won $20,000,000 in the Illinois lottery. Despite his generosity with his newly acquired fortune, it ultimately resulted in his death. Dampier was killed by Victoria Jackson, his wife’s sister who he was secretly dating, nine years after receiving the money.

B. B. Harrell Jr.

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The $31 million in lottery cash was won in June 1997 by Billie Bob Harrell, a Home Depot employee. His unexpected money had a fantastic beginning—a family vacation, charitable contributions to the church, and presents for loved ones—but it didn’t have a joyful conclusion. Like many other lottery winners, he wasted his winnings in less than two years and then promptly committed suicide.

Abraham Shakespeare

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In 2006, Abraham Shakespeare scooped a staggering $30 million in a Florida lottery. Tragically, three years after receiving a $17 million flat payment and donating the great bulk of it to charity, he was assassinated. DeeDee Moore, the perpetrator, had met Shakespeare not long after his lottery victory and become a close friend.

Jack Whittaker

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One morning in 2002, entrepreneur Jack Whittaker found out he had won the sum of $315 million in a Powerball lottery. That particular cash was the biggest one ever won by one ticket at the time. This led to a downward spiral. To mention a few, he was robbed several times, his marriage ended, family members died from drug overdoses, and so on.

Suzanne Mullins

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In 1993, Virginia Lottery winner Suzanne Mullins took home $4.2 million. She chose to collect her money in annual payments instead of taking a lump amount in the beginning since she was financially prudent. But unanticipated events and bad money management resulted in rising debt. Mullins took out a loan against her future profits in a last-ditch effort to pay off her bills, which had disastrous financial consequences. She eventually ran up debt more than what she had gained, becoming penniless and regretting her decisions.

Evelyn Adams 

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Evelyn Adams, a New Jersey resident who won the lotto twice in the middle of the 1980s for an overall prize of $5.4 million, beat incredible odds. Adams’s financial mismanagement and gambling addiction, however, rapidly reduced her wealth. She failed to make sensible investments and lost a significant amount of her money in the casinos in Atlantic City. Adams finally ended up bankrupt and living in a mobile home, underscoring the value of practicing sound money management.

Rhoda and Alex Toth

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A married Florida couple named Alex and Rhoda Toth won $13 million in 1990. At first, they lived lives of luxury and pleasure. However, their unbridled greed caused them to make bad investments, spend excessively, and engage in reckless behavior. The Toths’ wealth diminished, and they ultimately filed for bankruptcy.

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