Many people dream of winning the lottery and quickly becoming wealthy; unfortunately, such wishes don’t always come true.
Some jackpot winners find their lives crumbling after they indulge in lavish living and become targets of greedy friends and family members, while others succumb to addiction and death, leaving nothing behind but memories and stories from them here. Here are a few stories.
Pearlie Mae Smith
Pearlie Mae Smith and her seven adult children had already been teaching their kids to give back before winning the $429 million Powerball jackpot last May, but after being lucky enough to become winners they went one step further by investing their winnings back into Trenton through giving back 10 percent to church and creating the Smith Family Foundation led by one of Pearlie’s daughters Katherine Nunnally.
While many lottery winners spend their fortune on luxurious travel or cars, the Smith family have pledged that they would use their fortune to fight poverty instead. A year after winning big, their Smith Family Foundation began disbursing grants to organizations working in Trenton where they live.
Sharon Tirabassi from Hamilton, Ontario won a $10 million lottery jackpot and wasted it all within 10 years. She spent it lavishly, buying all the trappings of luxury lifestyle such as a mansion and multiple vehicles; clothing; vacations; lending money to friends and family (which fractured relationships) as well as gambling away most of it to become bankrupt herself.
Today she lives in an affordable apartment and takes the bus to her part-time job. However, her winnings still help provide for her six children through trust funds she set aside for them. She advises new lottery winners to seek advice from financial advisers before spending too extravagantly; money won’t always last.
Gough was different; instead of spending his prize to further improve both his family’s life and that of his community. He used it to build a spray park for children in his town by providing all of the equipment for its construction; assisted his family with new house and car purchases; as well as giving back through charitable donations and political contributions.
Many lottery winners end up spending their winnings irresponsibly and end up worse off than before they won the jackpot. Sharon Tirabassi, for instance, won a jackpot of $10 million but spent it all on homes, cars, clothes, parties, vacations and handouts to friends and family over time – only to end up riding the bus to work and eventually giving most of what was left over due to being sued by her partner and giving up most of it as part of her settlement agreement.
Suzanne Mullins won the Virginia Lotto in 1993, opting for annual payments instead of receiving her winnings as one lump sum payment. This meant she received approximately $47,000 each year after taxes had been withheld; additionally she contributed a lump sum payment towards her uninsured son-in-law’s medical costs of more than a million dollars.
But her reckless spending quickly got her in trouble. She used her future payouts as collateral against a loan of $200,000 she never repaid, leaving no assets when the lender came after her.
Many lottery winners struggle to cope with their sudden wealth. Some lose spouses, children and jobs; some even kill themselves; while others misspend it all and go bankrupt as their winnings disappear into thin air. Their stories demonstrate that money cannot buy happiness.
David Lee Edwards
David Edwards had spent one third of his life behind bars prior to winning $27 Million jackpot. Now that his fortune was secure for himself and family, Edwards pledged that it be used wisely and secure the future for them both.
Edwards chose a one-time payout rather than annual payments and hired financial adviser James Gibbs, who invested $16 million of the winnings into extremely safe bonds and annuities. Edwards then boasted about this decision at a ceremonial cheque acceptance press conference before the media.
However, he quickly wasted all of his money within one year by spending it lavishly with his fiancee on buying a mansion, multiple expensive cars and a private jet as well as using drugs which led to them contracting Hepatitis from sharing needles tainted with infectious blood.