Many of us dream of winning the lottery. It is the ultimate controlling carrot on a systematic stick. Keep on moving and one day it’ll be yours. You’ve just got to be in it to win it. As much as I would love to win a life-changing sum of money, I’m a struggling writer and cannot afford lottery tickets.
That said, it would be difficult to navigate life’s corridors with all that paper flying around. Suddenly having that much money tends to mean your thinking loses a certain clarity and – like a disappointing diamond – the cut, colour and carat of the situation aren’t much better either.
There are a number of lottery winners for whom the win was less of a gift and more of a curse. Whether it was greed, gluttony, pride, envy, lust, sloth or wrath, they are the seven deadly sins which form a cornerstone of the human condition – and they are exacerbated with money. Continuing in this vain, let’s check out some of the world’s unluckiest lottery winners. In the words of the late great Biggie Smalls, mo money, mo problems.
9. Michael Carroll
The phrase “nouveau riche” never quite cut it for Michael Carroll. Stylised in British tabloid newspapers as the “Lotto lout”, Carroll was a self-confessed racist and self-proclaimed “King of the Chavs” – a phrase he had emblazoned on the back of his black Mercedes van. The former bin man was wearing a court-enforced ankle tag at the time of his £10 million ($14 million) win. He spent his winnings on drugs, alcohol, prostitutes and ATVs. He even created a sort of junkyard playground in the garden of his new home. He eventually ran out of money and but not before a number of arrests and hospitalisations due to drug binges. He was on benefits for a while but, luckily, he got back to the world of work. He has since worked in a biscuit factory and a slaughterhouse.
8. Tonda Lynn Dickerson
Tonda Lynn Dickerson worked at a Waffle House where a regular named Edward Seward would tip the waiting staff with lottery tickets. The agreement was that if anyone won, they would split the money three ways – between themselves, Seward and their coworkers (and they would also buy Seward a pickup truck). In 1999, waitress Tonda Lynn Dickerson won the $9 million jackpot and kept all of it – without even buying the truck for the man who had bought her the ticket. Seward took her to court and lost but the IRS swept in and handed her a massive penalty for not paying taxes on a family trust she created. Cue: $700,000 invoice.
7. Roger and Lara Griffiths
Roger and Lara Griffiths won £1.8 million ($2.6 million) back in 2005. As a newly-rich, married couple, their shopping list was fairly normal. They bought a Porsche, a Lexus a house in the country and enrolled their daughters in a private school. Six years later, Lara kicked Roger out of the house after finding saucy emails. A week later, he got in touch with her to mention that the money was more than gone. However, having used £700,000 ($1 million) as security against loans to bail out Lara’s beauty spa business, it seems it was a joint failure.
6. Jack Whittaker
Life can be cruel to us normals. That said, if you’re a millionaire and you play the lottery, one would assume that you could afford $50 worth of tickets a week. I guess – in some way – that makes millionaires more likely to win the lottery. This is exactly what happened when construction company president Jack Whittaker won a multi-state jackpot in 2002. Known for his lapses in judgement, Whittaker often did stupid things – like leaving $545,000 in cash in his car while he was at a strip club. The cash disappeared, as did the other $314.5 million and the money he had originally. In four years, he spent (or lost) everything.
Over the page, read about the man who won the lottery one day and died the next. But how did he die?
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