You may think the title of this page is a bit extreme. I don’t. The fact is, most if not all of the 22 people below actually died as a direct result of winning the lottery. Or, in a few instances, as a result of someone close to them winning the lottery.
And in most of these cases, the lives of immediate family members were also ruined as a result.
I’m not saying this is necessarily going to happen to you. But I am saying that lottery winners typically face many new issues and problems. Many of these are unexpected. Some can hurt your future and well-being. And yes, sometimes they can turn disastrous. Read on to find out can happen when they do.
And if you’ve won big, remember the old saying: Better safe than sorry.
- Billie Bob Harrell — a former pastor in Texas, who won $31 million. The first thing he did was put the ticket in a safe-deposit box, and the second was to go out and get two solid, competent financial advisors.
In spite of his deep religious faith and expert financial advice, less than two years later, his marriage was over, the money was gone, and Billie Bob himself was dead. As he said to one of his financial advisors, “Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me.” And his suicide note to his (ex-)wife read simply, “I didn’t want this. I just wanted you.”
As with every one of the unfortunate winners featured here, there are things Billie Bob could have done to get different results. But he just wasn’t prepared for the problems that overtook him.
9 months after Abraham went missing, his body was found under a concrete slab in the yard of Dee Dee’s boyfriend. Dee Dee got life in prison with no possibility of parole. Quote, from before his disappearance: “I’d have been better off broke.”
Abraham is an example of someone who didn’t get all the help he needed, and got the wrong help with the one person he did hire to help him.
Abraham Shakespeare won $30 million at age 40, and was dead at 42. He was murdered by Dee Dee Moore, a woman who “managed” his money for him — which included transferring large sums to herself.
- Ibi Roncaioli — Happily married and already wealthy when she won $5 million, Ibi Roncaioli squandered her family’s fortune and was then murdered by her doctor husband when he figured out where the money had all gone.
- Gerald Muswagon — won $10 million Canadian, and lost it all. Was forced to take a minimum-wage job. Dead by suicide. His cousin said, “He didn’t have the right people around him at the time, people who could have guided him.“
- Jeffrey Dampier — won a $20 million jackpot, invested in business and gave gifts to family members. Jeffrey was kidnapped, robbed and murdered by his sister-in-law and her boyfriend.
- Urooj Khan — Indian immigrant, described as a generous workaholic, who cashed in a $1 million scratch ticket. The next day he was suddenly dead of cyanide poisoning. The murder was barely detected: Authorities originally ruled his death as being due to natural causes. Family members squabbled over his estate.
- Mack Metcalf — A forklift operator from Kentucky, Mack won $34 million, gave 40% of it to his wife, pledged to become a better father to his daughter, and moved to be closer to her. After taxes, his cash payout was worth $14 million free and clear.
Less than two years after winning, Metcalf reportedly longed for his previous life, saying, “The only problem I had then was waking up in the morning.” Just three years after cashing in his winning ticket, Mack was dead of alcoholism, at age 45. Although he possessed more in real estate and other belongings, his bank account only had $26,000 left in it.
$26,000 out of $14 million.
- Virginia Metcalf Merida — Metcalf’s wife, who received the other 40% of the $34 million. Followed him in death 2 years later at age 51, apparently of a drug overdose. She reportedly died alone, with unopened boxes from Home Shopping Network piled around her home.
- Fred Hill — boyfriend of Virginia Merida, who died of a drug overdose in her house, not quite a year before Virginia’s death. This one lottery win thus ended the lives of three people.
- Graeme Thorn — Graeme was just an 8 year old boy when his dad, Bazil Thorn, hit it big in an Australian lottery. This had been set up to help finance the famous Opera House in Sydney. Graeme was kidnapped and killed in a ransom scheme. His death shocked the nation and resulted in the rules being changed to let Australian lottery winners stay anonymous.
- Brandi Bragg — also in the drug overdose category, her story is covered on the front page of this site. Brandi was only 17 years old when she died.
- Jesse Tribble — an occasional boyfriend of Brandi Bragg, who died of a drug overdose in one of Jack Whittaker’s homes.
- Keith Gough — won about $14 million. Dead 5 years later of a heart attack believed brought on by drinking and stress, after losing his marriage, and after losing a good part of his fortune to con men.
Quote: “What’s the point of having money when it sends you to bed crying?”
- Maria Devrell — Australian woman who, with her husband, won the equivalent of $4.6 million in 2015 US dollars. Had an argument with her accountant, who was also their money manager. The accountant beat her in the head with a mallet, then smothered her to death with his hands. It emerged in court that the accountant had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars of the Devrell’s money in failed property investments.
- Michael Allen — cab driver who won nearly $6 million at age 24. Became known for carrying large amounts of cash, and was beaten to death for it 10 years later. His two murderers were sentenced to 47 years to life in prison.
- Phil Kitchen — won around $3 million, after borrowing money to buy a lottery ticket. Became a hermit and literally drank himself to death within 2 years. “It was the lottery that killed him,” a friend said.
- Craigory Burch — a forklift operator who was just 20 years old when he won $434,000 in the Georgia lottery. Weeks after his win, three men reportedly blew his front door open with a shotgun and demanded money. When he was unable to produce it, they shot him and left.
- Doris Murray — stabbed to death by her boyfriend of 8 years, when she tried to break off the relationship a year after winning $5 million. The boyfriend reportedly viewed her as “his ticket for getting out of debt.”
- Dennis Elwell — dead just 7 months after winning the lottery, at age 49, of suicide. Brought down by personal relationship problems and despair.
- Amanda Clayton — Food-stamp mom who won $1 million. Found dead a year later at age 25, in her bed, arms still around her 1-1/2 year old daughter.
- Terry Martin & Laurice Hampton — Terry & Laurice were a couple who had known each other since childhood. When Terry won $500 in the Texas Lottery, Laurice expected that he would share and give her half of the prize. The resulting argument ended with Terry shooting Laurice multiple times, then turning the gun on himself.
All over $250.
Many more lottery winners, despite winning vast fortunes, have ended up broke and lived on.