America has had a nasty case of lottery fever this past week.
The symptoms include, but are not limited to, excessive optimism, manic finger crossing and elaborate daydreaming about private islands and fancy cars.
The epidemic can be traced to the US$1.5 billion Powerball jackpot — the biggest ever.
While the odds of winning were pegged somewhere around 1 in 292 million, it seems one lucky ticket-holder in Chino Hills, California has bought the winning ticket.
Or maybe not so lucky. As it turns out winning the lottery is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Around 70% of people who land a big windfall lose it in a matter of years — some actually lose their lives.
Apparently unimaginable riches can do terrible things to ordinary people, so perhaps before the world’s most recent billionaire buys that solid gold house they’ve always dreamed of, they ought to heed a warning from these five former lottery winners whose luck ran out, fast.
Michael Carroll aka the “lotto lout”.
In 2002 British man Michael Carroll won the UK National Lottery at just 19 years of age.
The former garbage man took home £9,736,131 — around $US15.4 million — and became somewhat of an anti-hero in the British press who labelled him the “lotto lout”. He preferred to call himself the “King of Chavs”.
He proceeded to spent his winnings on drugs, sex and parties and one point bedding as many as four sex workers a day.
“I’ve slept with over 4,000 women,” he told the UK’s Mirror.
“I once slept with more than 20 in one day.”
At the height of his madness his was blowing £12,000 a week on cocaine, pills and MDMA and ended up in hospital numerous times.
He also spent some time behind bars, ended up weighing 139kgs and ran out of cash within a decade.
According to Carroll: “Money is the root of all evil. It brings out the worst in people.”
Britain’s youngest ever lottery winner, Callie Rogers, won £2 million pounds when she was just 16.
At 26, she has around £2000 left in her bank account and is studying to be a nurse.
She’s never been happier.
Rogers frittered away her winnings on partying, drugs, over the top holidays and cosmetic surgery.
She spent an estimated £2250,000 on coke, had two boobs jobs attempted suicide as many as four times.
“It was too much money for someone so young,” she told the Daily Mail.
“Even if you say your life won’t change, it does and often not for the better.”
In 1996, Californian woman Denise Rossi won $US1.3 million in the state lottery.
Despite being so close that they shared an electric toothbrush, Rossi wasn’t interested in splitting her newfound riches with her husband of 25 years.
So she kept it a secret and filed for divorce within 5 days.
When her partner found out he was understandably peeved and successfully sued her for the entirety of her winnings.
“Moral of story: It pays to be honest from the beginning,” his attorney Marc Lerner told the LA Times.
Billie Bob Harrell Jr.
Preacher Billie Bob Harrell Jr. was working as a stockboy at Home Depot when he won the $31 million jackpot in the Texas’ lottery in 1996.
20 months later, he was flat broke and divorced from his wife.
He committed suicide, shooting himself in the chest with a shotgun.
According to the Houston Press, soon before his death he told a financial advisor: “Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Maria Lou Devrell.
New South Wales woman Maria Lou Devrell won $5 million in 2011 and was murdered by her accountant Joseph Kelly.
Apparently, he was so frustrated by her reckless spending habits he, rather recklessly, murdered her with a rubber mallet.
“A situation emerged in which they were spending money more quickly than it was being allocated to them by the offender,” Justice Robert Allan Hulme when sentencing him to a maximum of 18 years in prison.
“He seems to have had the attitude that they were being wasteful.”
Be careful what you wish for, I guess.