Mega Millions, Powerball Lottery Winners Fortune or Misfortune?

Doris Murray won a life changing amount
Doris Murray won a life changing amount

Mega Millions Results in Trouble

How many times have you sat, clutching that white slip with those lucky numbers, watching as that round white ball rises or descends, announcing the mega millions winning numbers. How many times have you daydreamed about how winning the Powerball lottery would improve your circumstances?

Well, maybe winning isn't quite the happiness pill you envision. In fact, some past lottery winners might honestly report that their one-in-20 million windfall wasn't the key to utopia. In fact, that winning lottery pill created a lot of heartache and heartburn. Examine the following true stories of those blessed or cursed with winning the lottery and the trouble that ensued.

Dee Dee Moore ponders her vacation options
Dee Dee Moore ponders her vacation options

Winning Begets . . . Murder

Take the case of Abraham Shakespeare. October 2006 saw this 42-year old, warming a jail cell due to a $6,000 back child support judgment. About a month after his release, he was working as an assistant truck driver. When his coworker, Michael Ford, stopped at a convenience store in Frostproof, Florida to play the lottery, Shakespeare gave him $2.00 for two quick picks.

A week later, Shakespeare would receive a lump sum payment nearing $17 million. Shakespeare, who had led a troubled life prior to his good luck, had worked a variety of jobs including stints as a garbage collector and dishwasher. Now, he had the financial resources to never work a day again . . . and to help others. And help he did. Reportedly, he quickly gave away close to $2 million to family and friends. He plopped down over $1 million for a new home and funded his son's child support fund with another million.

But, he soon found himself with too many new friends and a few alienated old ones. His truck driving buddy, sued him. He said he was the one who bought the winning ticket and that Shakespeare had stolen it from his wallet. The courts ruled in Shakespeare's favor.

He went through a succession of women; one of whom sued him for $5,000; another sued him for child support.

And his troubles with the law continued to plague him. He was stopped five times for various driving violations in 2007.

Later, he would meet DeeDee Moore, an aspiring author who told him she wanted to chronicle his life. Shakespeare probably was not aware of Moore's previous legal woes. She had been sentenced to probation for making a false carjacking and rape report in 2001 to collect insurance money.

In March 2009, Shakespeare disappeared. Ms. Moore said he had simply run away from all the publicity and outstretched palms. Apparently, he left without most of his winnings; Moore was now in possession of his bank account and his home. She claimed he had sold the latter to her for $600,000.

Apparently, Moore concocted a plan to convince family members Shakespeare was relaxing somewhere out of the limelight. She sent text messages from the cell phone he conveniently left behind. She bribed his cousin to send a birthday card to Shakespeare's mother on her birthday. But, when he did not show for Thanksgiving dinner, the family reported him missing.

And not unlike a Shakespearean tragedy, nine months after he had disappeared, the $17 million lottery winner's body was found buried, under concrete slabs, in the back of Moore's home. She has been charged with accessory to murder. But she denies any involvement in the murder.

However, apparently, a Tampa, Florida jury was not convinced of Moore's innocence. They sentenced her to 25 years without parole for the first degree murder of Shakespeare in January 2013.

Khan happily displays his winning ticket
Khan happily displays his winning ticket

Pilgrimage Vow Ignored

After Urooj Khan returned from a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, he vowed to swear off all gambling. However, when Khan, 46, stopped in his neighborhood 7-11 store, he still purchased a scratch-off ticket.

Khan, who owned several dry cleaning businesses, scratched off the ticket while he was still in the store and, you guessed it, he won. However, before he could collect his $425K after-tax winnings, he was dead. After coming home, eating his dinner and retiring for the night, Khan had awakened and began to scream in pain. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital on July 20, 2013.

Initially, the coroner ruled his death had occurred from natual causes. However, a later phone call from a concerned relative, helped reopen the investigation. After more extensive testing, the coroner decided Khan had succumbed to cyanide poisoning. Cyanide poisoning disrupts the body's ability to utilize oxygen and causes a violent and relatively quick death. Investigations may exhume the body to conduct further tests.

He Didn't Want to Say Goodbye

Doris Murray's 41st birthday was certainly a lucky one. Murray, mother of four, had just won $5 million in the Georgia state lottery. A year later, she was dead and her 51 year old boyfriend, Derrick Stanley was being held for her murder.

Unlike, other lottery winners, Murray had attempted to maintain her former austere lifestyle. She still lived in the same modest home and apparently hadn't even upgraded her auto. She was to receive approximately $172,000 yearly after taxes and she had planned to establish a trust fund for her grandchildren.

Murray's family thinks they know why she was murdered. Apparently, she was attempting to break up with her long-time boyfriend, Stanley. They believe he was unwilling to accept her wishes so he stabbed her to death. The remaining money will be dispensed according to her will.

A Pawned Ring Leads to Fortune

You could say William Post, III owed his good fortune to a ring and pawn shop. He used the $40.00 he received for his pawned ring to purchase 40 lottery tickets in 1998. He won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery. Post had led a troubled life; his mother had died when he was eight and his father sent him to an orphanage. Before hitting the big one, he had lived off of social security and disability checks. Now, his money troubles were over. That was the good news.

The bad . . . well, he didn't have a clue on how to manage his winnings and within three months, he was $500,000 in debt. He received yearly payments of close to $500,000, yet, he filed for bankruptcy in 1996.

His landlady and sometimes girlfriend sued him; she said she helped him buy the tickets. A judge agreed and awarded her a third of the proceeds.

Post loved women and getting married it would seem. His sixth wife left after Post's brother contracted with a hitman to kill both her and Post. In 1998, he was convicted of attempted assault for firing his gun at . . . a bill collector. And, he liked firing that shotgun; his sixth wife had a restraining order against him for shooting at her car during a dispute.

He lived his final years alienated from friends and families in a ranshackled mansion (a misnomer at best). He auctioned off his final lottery payments to free himself of debt and sold his mansion for $65,000. He had paid close to $400,000 for it a few years earlier.

But still he couldn't shake the spending bug and blew through his remaining money purchasing homes, cars, motorcycles, even a $260,000 sailboat. He succumbed to respiratory failure in 1998 in Biloxi, Mississippi. He had been fighting extradition to Pennsylvania for the assault conviction and was living on a $450 disability check when he died. He had once said. "I was much happier when I was broke." Seems those mega millions brought only trouble. Survivors include seven wives and ten children.

Billie Bob Harrell
Billie Bob Harrell

No chance to enjoy the millions

Dana Martz created his own fireworks when he won the $9 million Mega Million Virginia lottery just prior to the country's big party on July 4. Unfortunately, seven years later, he was killed in a single-car accident. He was receiving 26 annual payments of $346,000.

Billie Bob Harrell won the Texas Lottery in June of 1997. Harrell had been struggling with a spell of bad luck of late. He had lost two jobs and was working as a stock clerk when he had the windfall. He opted to receive 25 annual checks of $1.24 million.

Harrell was quite generous with his winnings, outfitting his family members with new homes and cars. His church as well as many congregation members benefited from his good fortune and kind heart. But soon the money seemed to control his life. He had trouble saying "no" and his marriage suffered. Harrell was reported to have described winning the lottery as "the worst thing that had ever happened to me."

And few would disagree. He allegedly killed himself with a shotgun in May of 1999. His formerly close family is at odds and at war over the remaining money. Some question whether he really committed suicide.

A Trashed Ticket Leads to Heartbreak

Kevin Donovan was determined to increase his odds of winning the Massachusetts Lottery, so he purchased the entire roll of Texas Hold 'em scratch-off tickets from a convenience store. He spent around $600.00.

Later, he would toss a ticket in the trash. Edward St. John, 82, retrieved the ticket and discovered he held the winning numbers worth a cool million. But when he tried to cash in on the ticket, Donovan, claimed the ticket as his own. The two went to court where Donovan produced video tape from the store showing him purchasing the tickets. Finder's keeper said St. John. At 82, he undoubtedly, wanted to resolve the case expediently.

Then the unexpected occurred. Donovan died from a heart attack; he was only 49. St. John, who routinely visited trash recepticles for discarded tickets, only wanted the matter resolved. The State Lottery Commission had appeared to side with St. John, stating previously that the ticket is "payable to whomever is in possession." But, Donovan's two children sued St. John on behalf of Donovan's estate.

St. John says he offered the children a third of the winnings, but they held out for half. "I told my lawyers to take my offer off the table and they get exactly zero," he said after the Lottery Commission ruled in his favor. However, the children continued to fight.

In August 2006, St. John agreed to give up 14% of his winnings. He was tired of fighting. The 83 year old will receive $43,000 for 20 years.

Cecilia Brown paid $20 for a Blackjack scratch off ticket in 2006. Imagine her excitement when her ticket won a $11,000 prize. But when she tried to cash it in, she received a letter back from the Texas Lottery Commission. The Commission had determined that the winning ticket was a misprint. They refunded her $20. Considering the misfortune of other winners, Brown may be better off.

2012 Mega Millions Mess

McDonald's worker, Mirlande Wilson, is crying April Fool's after announcing to a coworker that she had won the big one and was to share in the $680 million Mega Million payout. There were only three winners with the winning numbers.

However, Mirlande's fellow McDonald's workers aren't feeling the love. Apparently, Ms. Wilson, single mother of seven, participated with 15 other McDonald's worker in a lottery pool. Each worker donated $5.00, and Wilson was dispatched to purchase the tickets. However, now Ms. Wilson claims the winner ticket as hers and hers alone. She claims it was not bought out of the pooled funds from the workers from the Milford Mill McDonald's in Maryland.

Well, that is, if she has the winning numbers at all -- seems her memory became a bit fuzzy. And, two weeks after announcing her win Ms. Wilson and her attorney held a disfunctional news conference, Ms. Wilson, claimed she stashed the winning ticket at McDonalds and can't find it. Hmm . . . want some fries with that crow.

The latest update has Ms. Wilson, wearing more egg on her face, than a thousand Egg McMuffins. After she and her lawyer call off a news conference, she says "she can't find the ticket" and/or "it was hidden at the McDonald's where she worked. But now, her supervisor will not let her back in to claim the ticket." Meanwhile, lottery officials are expressing considerable doubt about her claim.

Update -- April 17, 2012

The final Mega Million winner has come forth. He or she will accept their check on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. This winner purchased her ticket in Red Bud, Illiinois. Illinois winners must disclose their identity. The other winners were an individual from Kansas and three staff members of a Maryland school. The Kansas and Maryland winners do not have to disclose their identities.


That Turkey Sub Will Cost you $1 Million

Deli Owner, Nabil Jaghab and his son, Karim, are facing grand larceny charges after supposedly cheating a customer out of his lottery winnings. The 34-year-old was a customer at Nabil's Long Island deli and convenience store. According to a November 24,2013 article in USA Today, the customer purchased and redeemed a scratch-off ticket. Karim, 26, congratulated the customer and handed him $1,000.

The only problem was, the man had actually won $1 million. After returning home, the customer realized he had been cheated and returned to the deli. Father and son made him a generous offer of $10,000. But he had an offer of his own. He called the police and now the Jaghabs are facing a trial. Their lawyer puts the blame on the lottery machine which determined the payoff. Hmm . . . .

Is it Fate, Circumstances or Poor Planning

You've undoubtedly heard stories of ill fated lottery winners who are tragically broke within months or years of collecting their prize. Many look to money as the magic elixir to cure their troubles; however, these winners have found that the money only seemed to exacerbate their problems. Perhaps as USA Today, reported in a January 6, 2011 article, studies indicate that "emotional well being rises with income, but that effect doesn't progress beyond an annual income of $75,000." So, perhaps more isn't always better. But those who participate in the Powerball, Mega Millions or other national lottery such as the Princess Margaret lottery are happy to prove the exception.

Lawsuits, greed and fractured family relationships appear to be a by-product of these million dollar fortunes. Seems like the only fat ladies singing are the lawyers and lottery organizations. And while, everyone always says, "I'd handle it better,if I won the Lottery," consider the problems and trouble inherent in this type of life altering event, and ask yourself -- Would you really?

References

Eversley, Melaine and William Welch. Two Winners Go Green with $380M. USA Today, Januay 6, 2011.

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Comments 18 comments

emdi profile image

emdi 5 years ago

Thank you for the nice hub. I just published a hub about how to use the money, won by lottery or any other windfall. May be some of the readers of this article find it useful

http://hubpages.com/money/Windfall-how-to-use-mone...


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Thanks for writing this Hub! I don't think I'd like to win the lottery- ever.


ExpandYourMind profile image

ExpandYourMind 5 years ago from Midwest USA Author

Thanks for stopping in emdi and offering your article for assistance.


ExpandYourMind profile image

ExpandYourMind 5 years ago from Midwest USA Author

Simone, thanks for reading and commenting. It certainly seems winning lots of cash brings on lots of problems!


emdi profile image

emdi 5 years ago

Simone, the problem,is not in winning lottery, it is in how we deal with it. Check my hub, about Windfall.


Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 5 years ago from USA

I would say winning itself is a fortune. Just don't tell everyone that you have millions so as not to attract bad people. don't show off your millions like you're showing off your money in a crowded street for all the snatchers to see. Live a good and simple life and don't forget to always meditate and pray, and help people in a right way. Help people so they can help themselves.


Apostle Jack profile image

Apostle Jack 5 years ago from Atlanta Ga

Sometimes you can make money a curse unto you instead of a blessing.It depends on whether you put God first or not,and how much strength of intellect you have to best the matter of all negativity that comes along with it.

Its not the money,its the person.


ExpandYourMind profile image

ExpandYourMind 5 years ago from Midwest USA Author

You're right Apostle Jack and Ipeoney. If I won, I probably wouldn't want to tell a soul. Get good financial advice, lay low, help others in secret and pray without ceasing. Thanks for stopping in.


melwsie 4 years ago

Although money can buy u a nice fancy car, house, but it cannot buy u happiness , well in- fact most of the time just bring unfortunate burden, abrupt change of life-style leading to bad decision , because that money u have not really feel the pain of getting it, same way it came in windfall, same way it vanish like nothing. Think wisely


Rock_nj profile image

Rock_nj 4 years ago from New Jersey

Interesting Hub. Are these sad stories a black eye for lotteries or just a continuation of many of these people's already disfunctional existences? Garbage in, garbage out, no matter if you're living off $450 per month disability or lottery winnings worth millions. Some people just don't have it together.


dicaslotofacil profile image

dicaslotofacil 4 years ago

Winning the lottery would be a blessing or a curse that is the question


locusplay 4 years ago

I dont think winning a lottery ticket is a misfortune..Why will it be? Winning a ticket gives one an opportunity to lead a more fortunate life. However, I do understand that winning a lottery attracts negativity but you can prevent that. One way would be to never disclose your identity if you win a ticket and another is, if you want to play lottery in a secure way, then play online rather than buying a physical ticket. Hope I make sense..:)


ExpandYourMind profile image

ExpandYourMind 4 years ago from Midwest USA Author

Yes. You are all right. You can determine how you choose to handle your windfall and choose wisely.


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