Lottery players from 45 states, Washington, DC and the Virgin Islands hope to hit $1.1 billion on Friday Mega Millions Jackpot but more money meant more trouble for these ten lottery jackpot winners.
Andrew “Jack” Whittaker Jr. became an instant celebrity after winning a record $315 million Powerball jackpot on Christmas Eve in 2002 and even flew in a private jet with his family to appear on New York morning TV shows after hitting the jackpot.
Whittaker’s life quickly took a tumultuous turn as he began to struggle with alcohol and gambling, his wife left him, several family members tragically died, he was twice charged with driving under the influence and also assaulted by three casino employees.
Whittaker, who was already a wealthy businessman when he won the lottery, was also repeatedly robbed with thieves stealing over $100,000 from him on different occasions and he was thought to be broke in the years before his death.
Andrew Jackson aka Jack Whittaker waves as he gets into his rented limo at Sixth Ave. and 48th St. while visiting New York after winning the $314.9 million Powerball jackpot on Christmas Day. (Photo by: Michael Appleton/NY Daily News via
“I wish I’d ripped that ticket up,” a sobbing Whittaker told reporters after the death of her daughter.
David Lee Edwards, a convicted felon from Kentucky, won a $27 million share of a record $280 million jackpot in 2001 and soon began a spending spree that included a mansion, dozens of luxury cars and a private jet with a personal pilot.
Five years later, the money was gone, and Edwards was living with his wife in a storage unit contaminated with human feces. Edwards’ wife eventually left him and he died penniless in hospice care in 2013 at the age of 58.
Michael Todd Hill, 52, won $10 million dollars on an Ultimate Millions scratch ticket at a North Carolina convenience store in 2007. In 2020, 13 years later, Hill was charged with murder and told the court he was indigent and unable to afford an attorney. He was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 23-year-old Keonna Graham.
Urooj Khan owned a successful small business in Chicago when he hit it big with a $1 million scratch prize in June 2012. A month later, Khan died of cyanide poisoning. The case was investigated as a homicide, but no one was ever charged, and Khan’s earnings were split between his widow and daughter.
Florida man Abraham Shakespeare was illiterate and regularly unemployed when he won a $17 million jackpot in 2006. By 2009, Shakespeare had wasted most of his money and was convinced by a friend to transfer him a $1.3 million stake in his home.
That same friend, Dorice Moore, shot and killed Shakespeare in his own backyard soon after and was convicted of murder in 2012, earning him a life sentence.
Mack W. Metcalf and his ex-wife Virginia G. Merida split a $34 million jackpot in 2000 and quickly got down to business spending the fortune on drugs, a mansion and exotic pets. Three years later, the couple were dead after Metcalf’s death complications of alcoholism and Merida of a suspected drug overdose.
“If he hadn’t won, he would have worked like ordinary people and he would have maybe 20 years left,” said Marilyn Collins, Metcalf’s first wife. New York Times in 2005. “But when you put that kind of money in the hands of somebody who’s got problems, it just helps them kill themselves.”
Lee’s bank account soon dried up after donating large sums of money to educational, political and social causes.
A person pays for a Mega Millions lottery ticket on July 28, 2022 in Houston City. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Eight years later, Lee had filed for bankruptcy and had less than $700 in his bank account while facing $2.5 million in debt.
Alex and Rhoda Toth had $24 to their names in May 1990 when they hit a $13 million Florida Lotto jackpot. The couple took their money in payments of a worrying $666,666 through 2010.
Over the next few years, the Toths went through various family feuds and were accused of filing fraudulent tax returns by the IRS which ultimately led to bankruptcy filings in 2001 and 2002.
Rhoda Toth is said to have said that the money had “ripped us apart” and caused the loss of friends and family members.
“Sometimes I wish we could give it back,” she said.
Evelyn Adams do the lottery the story when she won two multimillion-dollar awards in New Jersey in the mid-1980s for a total of $5.4 million. Over the next few years, Adams began gambling, giving gifts to family members, and losing money in failed investments.
By 2012, Adams had spent all his winnings and was living in a trailer.
“Winning the lottery isn’t always what you believe it is,” Adams said.
William “Bud” Post went bankrupt in 1988 when he won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania Lottery and went on a spending spree that included houses, boats and a plane he wasn’t licensed for to pilot.
A woman checks off the numbers chosen for her Mega Millions lottery tickets at a 7-Eleven convenience store in Chino Hills, California on July 28, 2022. (Photo by RINGO CHIU/AFP via Getty Images)
A year later, Post was not only broke again, but also a million dollars in debt. Additionally, Post’s brother was arrested for hiring a hitman to kill him.
Post ended up filing for bankruptcy, served time in jail for shooting a bill collector with a gun, and was tricked by his landlady into shelling out more than a third of his money.
“Everyone dreams of making money, but no one realizes the nightmares that come out of the woodwork, or the problems,” Post told the Washington Post in 1993.
Post was living on disability benefits when he died in 2006 at the age of 66, leaving behind his seventh wife and nine children.
Americans have 1 in 302,575,350 to win the billion dollar Mega Millions prize, but should be careful that nearly 70% of lottery jackpot winners are burning their winnings in 7 years, though the vast majority haven’t won a pot as big as Friday night’s, the third-largest in history.