Having won a lottery jackpot is a dream come true for most people, but not all winners are happy. Some end up miserable and others squander their fortunes.
The winner of Tuesday’s record-setting Powerball jackpot has been identified as Edwin Castro, who bought his ticket at Joe’s Service Center in Altadena. He “wishes to largely remain private,” according to lottery officials.
Mack W. Metcalf and Virginia G. Merida
In 2000, Mack Metcalf and his estranged wife Virginia Merida jumped from blue-collar struggle and ramshackle apartments to limitless leisure and big houses. He built a southern Kentucky estate modeled after George Washington’s Mount Vernon property and filled it with horses and vintage cars. She bought a Mercedes-Benz and lived in a modernistic mansion overlooking the Ohio River, where she kept a collection of stray cats.
After a brief period of ease from the new influx of money, however, these lottery winners got into trouble. Metcalf’s first wife sued him for $31,000 in unpaid child support, and Merida was found dead of a drug overdose in her Ohio River mansion in November 2003.
Merida had repaid her debts and saved some of her winnings before she died, but the rest went toward a series of disastrous purchases. She also drank heavily and was often seen wandering the streets. Her partially decomposed body was found in her home.
Despite her intentions to spend the money responsibly, Lee was unable to keep control of her finances. She made a few bad decisions, including selling off her rights to her annual lottery payments for a lump sum. By the time she filed for bankruptcy at age 60, she had less than $700 left in her bank accounts and $2.5 million in debt.
She also reportedly spent much of her lottery winnings on political donations. This included donating to Democratic parties and presidential campaigns, giving to local communities and even dining with Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
Unfortunately, this generosity did not last and she eventually lost her entire inheritance. This is one of the many unfortunate lottery winner stories that highlight why a financial advisor is important for any major windfall. Without this guidance, a jackpot winner can quickly go from living a dream to being penniless in no time at all. The best way to avoid this fate is by tucking away an emergency fund and staying out of debt.
Abraham Shakespeare, who was a casual laborer, won the lottery in 2006 and chose to take a lump sum payment of $17 million. He was able to upgrade his life and moved out of his working-class neighborhood into a gated community. But three years after his win tragedy struck and he was killed.
According to police, Dorice “Dee Dee” Moore befriended Shakespeare and convinced him that she was writing a book about his life. She reportedly helped him open a business and transferred money from his bank accounts to hers. and she also took over his home mortgage.
She even bribed some of Shakespeare’s family and friends to tell her they had seen him. When the police finally found him, he was buried under concrete in a backyard at a home she had bought. She told the local Lakeland paper that he had been hiding because people were always asking him for money and that she was helping him lay low.
David Lee Edwards
After winning a huge jackpot in the lottery, many people change their lives. However, some of these changes turn out to be bad for them and can even cost them their lives. A case in point is the story of Kentucky man David Lee Edwards, who won a $27 million share of Powerball in 2001. He promised to act modestly and provide a decent life for his fiancee and daughter, but failed to keep this promise.
He went on a spending spree and bought a mansion, dozens of expensive cars and a Lear Jet with his winnings. However, drug addiction and free-spending habits soon took their toll on him. Within five years, he was broke and living with his wife in a storage unit that was contaminated with human feces.
The couple contracted hepatitis from their needle drug use and were arrested several times for possessing various illegal drugs, including crack cocaine, heroin and pills. They were unable to get back on their feet and eventually left everything behind. Edwards died alone and penniless in hospice care at the age of 58.