We sometimes hear these stories of winners who, within just a few short years, have managed to squander their winnings; some even ending up totally broke or in debt. For a rare few the money becomes a catalyst that sends them on a destructive spiral that sees them lose much more than simply money!
The two most famous of these "Lotto Losers" are Michael Carroll from the UK and Jack Whittaker from the USA.
Michael Carroll: The 'Lotto Lout'
At the age of 19, Michael Carroll, a former garbage man with a criminal record, won £9.7 million on the UK Lottery.
He bought four homes, a holiday villa in Spain, 4 luxury motorcars and a stake in his favourite football club, Glasgow Rangers. His excessive spending coupled with substance abuse soon led to trouble with the law. He was convicted of cocaine possession after police found a £1,500 stash of cocaine in his house and later jailed for nine months for assault. His wife divorced him and he is currently estranged from his daughter.
Within 18 months of hitting the jackpot he had lost nearly all of his winnings having spent it all on drugs, parties, jewellery and cars.
"He has got no cash assets at all," says his biographer, "He has actually blown the lot. People did advise him, but he doesn't take advice."
Jack Whittaker: Dreams turned into a nightmare
Whittaker won $315 million on the USA Powerball lottery (At the time it was the largest single jackpot ever) but even before his massive lottery win Jack was a millionaire, with a successful construction company and a net worth of over US$17 million. After his windfall, however, his life has been a downward spiral of personal loss and tragedy.
Whittaker says he's been involved in 460 legal actions since winning and has been sued repeatedly. He has been the victim of crime numerous times and has been arrested himself for various indiscretions including drunken driving and assault. Well publicised struggles involving gambling, drinking and philandering led to the breakup of his marriage.
Most tragically of all was the death of his 17 year old drug-addicted granddaughter who was on a $2100-per-week allowance. "If it would bring my granddaughter back, I'd give it all back," Whittaker said of his jackpot. "But I can't get her back, so might as well keep the money, I guess."
"I don't have any friends," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Every friend that I've had, practically, has wanted to borrow money or something and of course, once they borrow money from you, you can't be friends anymore."