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Powerball

Updated on August 7, 2013

Winning Millions of Dollars

We all dream of what we would do if we hit the big Powerball jackpot and win millions of dollars. We would pay off all of our debts, quit our jobs, move to some exotic location, travel the world, or just live out the rest of our lives content and all our problems would cease to exist. The problem is it is just a dream.

The sudden influx of millions of dollars into a person's life can alter and change your perception of reality and quite a few lottery winners end up broke and worse off than they were before their winnings. Any purchase you make with your winnings increases your tax responsibility to the government. Property taxes can become outrageous when purchasing million dollar homes, cars and other items. People come from miles around with can't miss investment opportunities that have the potential to increase your wealth exponentially, but they also have a chance to fail miserably and eat up a huge chunk of your winnings. Charities come calling asking for donations. You may become the target of criminal activities such as robbery, identity theft, or even murder. These are just a few stories of previous winners that had it all and ended up losing more than they ever could have imagined.

Suzanne Mullins of Virginia won over $4 million dollars and came out deeper in debt than before her winnings. The Virginia lottery use to pay out with a yearly annuity. She borrowed money against her annuity from an asset company that she agreed to pay back with her annual checks. However the rules changed later and Suzanne was able to claim the rest of her winnings in a lump sum. She stopped making the payments to the asset company and she was sued for well over $150000.

In 2002 Jack Whittaker won an amazing $315 million Powerball jackpot. Whittaker was born to a poor family with very few luxuries in life. His family never owned a car and he was in high school before his family owned a television set. The sudden windfall of cash had him at a loss for words and thoughts. His family became instant celebrities and they made several television appearances after his record winnings. The problem with this is now everyone knew he had millions and they all wanted a piece. Jack set out with very good intentions of using his winnings to help the poor and build churches. He made good on some of these promises within months of his winnings he had already financed the building of two new churches. He then formed the Jack Whittaker foundation and began taking requests for help. There were so many letters and cries for help that they could sit for 10 hours a day just opening the daily mail. People sent requests asking for houses, cars, entertainment systems, business investments and other bizarre requests. He gave away over $50 million in cash, houses and cars. Whittaker had formed his own construction company years before his winnings and he operated a successful business with very few complaints. Since his winnings he has spent over $3 million fending off lawsuits filed against his company. People were approaching him on the street asking for help. He says it wasn't unusual to have up to 150 people a day approach him for a handout. Not only did his wealth and fame make him the target of many requests for help it also made him a target for criminal activities and more lawsuits. He was robbed of $545,000 at a strip club, sued by an Atlantic City Casino for over $1.5 million for bounced checks uses to cover gambling debts, and later his daughter and granddaughter were found dead. He now wishes he would have torn the ticket up and continued his life the way it was.

Evelyn Adams won the New Jersey lottery twice which came to a total of $5.4 million. She now lives in a mobile home, all of her winnings gone. She was a gambler and lost her fortunes to other games of chance.

In 1998 William Post III won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery. His own brother hired a hit man in an attempt to kill him and his wife and inherit his fortune. He loaned money to relatives who invested the money in businesses that went belly up. Later he was arrested for firing a gun over the head of a bill collector. In 2006 he died broke and bankrupt.

Abraham Shakespeare won $31 million in Florida in 2006. After making a few bad investments and loans Shakespeare's winnings were dwindling down quickly. Three years later in 2009 Shakespeare met a woman named Doris Moore who promised to manage his money and make it last. However, later in 2009 Shakespeare's body was found buried under a 30 by 30 concrete slab on property belonging to a man police claim is Moore's boyfriend. Moore has been arrested and charged with accessory to first degree murder after the fact. Shakespeare's winnings made him the target of this criminal conspiracy which is still under investigation.

Billie Bob Harrell Jr. from Texas won $31 million in 1997. At the time of his winnings he was working at a Home Depot store struggling to support his wife and three children. He was a kind and generous man who began helping out friends, family members and donating to his church. His generosity soon became a huge problem. He was giving away money at an enormous rate and it began to take a toll on his financial situation. Less than 20 months after his winnings Harrell shot himself in the chest with a shotgun committing suicide. His winnings like Abraham Shakespeare, had cost him his life.

These stories make me wonder, what will happen now to the winner of the $590 million dollar jackpot winner from 5/18/2013? If they are wise they will keep their good fortune quiet and remain anonymous (and any tip for this great advice would be appreciated.............. just kidding).

So we can all dream of winning the big one and having all of our problems just disappear, but for many it is just a dream even after winning. Winning millions of dollars suddenly can seriously change your life for the worst. If you are not wise with your investments or you are generous to a fault, you can end up losing it all. People come from everywhere asking for handouts, and telling sob stories of how their life would change for the better with a just a little help, criminals seek you out to swindle away your money and in cases like Abraham Shakespeare kill you and try to take it all. The government is always standing there with their hand out waiting on their piece of the pie as well. So be careful what you wish for, you may just get it.


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    • Romeos Quill profile image

      Romeos Quill 3 years ago from Lincolnshire, England

      Amen to that.

      R.Q.

    • kkingcrabb profile image
      Author

      Billy Joseph Ethridge 3 years ago from Georgetown, S.C.

      Nothing beats a hard earned dollar. I hear all the time the best things in life are free, not buying it. Anything worth having is worth working for.

    • Romeos Quill profile image

      Romeos Quill 3 years ago from Lincolnshire, England

      It seems intoxicating how most unenlightened folk strive for such easy wealth, yet the reality, in some cases, as you've written about, rarely matches the dream.My old dad gambled for years, and it never seemed to get him anywhere;a good lesson here, that you've portrayed, for earning an honest living.

      Have a mighty fine weekend;

      R.Q.

    • kkingcrabb profile image
      Author

      Billy Joseph Ethridge 3 years ago from Georgetown, S.C.

      Sad how "found" or won money seems to affect lives for the worst and most of the time earned money has the opposite effect. We all dream of being rich but sometimes dreams can turn into nightmares.

    • Romeos Quill profile image

      Romeos Quill 3 years ago from Lincolnshire, England

      An interesting article.Money seems to exercise a strange power over its temporary,adoptive 'fathers',and I thought your piece showed quite admirably how its misuse can plague its slaves.

      All the best,

      Romeo's Quill

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