Dream of hitting the jackpot and living a millionaire lifestyle? Read on, you may well change your mind. In the case of these lottery winners, their fortune only lead to great misfortune...
Dubbed the Lotto Lout, Michael Carroll from Norfolk, became notorious after a 2002 lottery win, which saw him pocket £9.7m. He already had numerous offences to his name at the time of the jackpot win. Life as a lottery winner didn’t tempt Carroll to change his ways and in the years that followed he was jailed twice, and handed an ASBO for terrorising his neighbours. Somehow he also found the time to fritter all of his winnings away too, living what he described as a rock star lifestyle. In 2013, Carroll told the press that he was now working in a biscuit factory and had just 70p in his bank account – but claimed he was happier than ever.
When Jack Whittaker from West Virginia scooped $314.9 million in 2002, it was the biggest single jackpot in the history of the lottery. Already a successful businessman, Whittaker vowed to give huge chunks of this winnings to charity, as well as pamper his daughter and granddaughter. ‘I’m not going to change my life much,’ he told reporters as he collected his whopping cheque. What followed was unbelievably tragic. Just seven years after Whittaker became a lottery winner, both his daughter and granddaughter had died in mysterious circumstances. Whittaker, who’d also battled legal problems since his jackpot win, seemed to blame the windfall for the dramatic change in fortune. He told reporters: ‘I wish I’d torn that ticket up.’
Tonda Lynn Dickerson
In 1999, an Alabama waffle house waitress named Tonda Lynn Dickerson received one hell of a tip from a regular customer – a lotto ticket which would later bag her $10m. But it was no happy ever after. Four of her colleagues who’d also been given tickets by the customer claimed that they’d all had an agreement – if any of the tickets won, they’d split the spoils. Tonda denied this, and legal rangling ensued. In the end no agreement could be proved. But Tonda didn’t get to keep all of her jackpot anyway. As she’d squirreled away the money in a corporation and given shares to her family, she was forced to fork out over $1m in gift tax to the US government. If her co-workers are to be believed, you might call that karma…
In January 1997, Denise Rossi demanded a divorce from her hubby of 25 years. It came as a shock. The couple had seemed happy and were so close, they’d even shared a toothbrush. During the divorce proceedings, Denise, from California, said she’d been unhappy for years. But what she didn’t say was that 11 days before she’d told her hubby their marriage was over, she’d pocketed $1.3m on the lottery. But California law bans the hiding of assets in divorce proceedings, so when the windfall was discovered the judge forced her to hand the entire jackpot over to her ex-husband as punishment. If she’d disclosed the money, it’s likely she would have kept at least half. Proof that honesty pays!
Age 16, Callie Rogers became Britain’s youngest lottery winner. As well as hitting the jackpot, she hit the headlines when she collected her cheque. But it was how she spent her almost-£1.9m jackpot that kept her in the papers for years to come. As well as buying properties and fancy cars, Rogers admitted blowing money on booze, drugs and cosmetic surgery, then sinking into a deep depression. Happily, 10 years after her 2003 win, Callie told the press her life was back on track. The former millionaire had beaten her demons and was training to be a nurse. She’d learned her lesson saying ‘money can’t buy you happiness.’
And finally… Luke Pittard and Emma Cox
Here’s a happier tale to end on! In 2006, Luke Pittard and his girlfriend Emma Cox were working together in a Cardiff branch of McDonalds. Their lives changed overnight when they became lottery winners, banking £1.3m. Both still in their 20s, they packed in their jobs, swapping burger-flipping for a life of leisure. But just 18 months on, Luke was back working at McDonalds, earning £5.95 per hour. Had they blown their fortune? Nope! Luke just missed his job. ‘To be honest, there’s only so much relaxing you can do,’ he told the press. ‘A bit of hard work never did anyone any harm.’ A lesson for us all!
How would you spend your cash on if you won the lottery?