Top Lottery Winners who Lost Everything



Lotteries are played all over the world and people do emerge as winners, but it is tough to say if all of the wins are happy endings. There have been numerous reports about tragedies that have befallen lottery winners later in their life. Given that there are a number of national lotteries all over the world and 44 state lotteries in the United States, there are probably hundreds of winners who have taken home $1 million and more and managed them sensibly. However, it is also the truth that there are winners that end up losing their money very quickly.

The following are the worst real-life tragedies that have been faced by some lottery winners:

Lisa Arcand

In 2004, Lisa Arcand won the Massachusetts lottery worth $1 million. Like most winners, she bought a house for herself and went on vacation. But after taxes, even one million is not much and she decided to open a restaurant to create a source of income. The restaurant was a failure and in a couple of years, Lisa ran out of money.

Gerald Muswagon

A jackpot of $10 million was claimed by Gerald Muswagon in 1998 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He turned his new house into a ‘party pad’ and also bought cars for his friends and family. Eventually, he also ran out of money and had to take up a minimum-wage job for supporting his girlfriend and six children. Seven years after winning big, Gerald took his own life in 2005.

Michael Carroll

He worked as a garbage man in England and in 2002, when he was just 19 years old, Michael Carroll won £9.7 million or $14.4 million at that time. The money was spent on drugs, a mansion and gold jewelry. Carroll was broke in 2012 and was surviving on unemployment checks. Now, he is earning £400 by doing a job at a slaughterhouse.

Willie Hurt

The Michigan lottery in 1989 made Willie Hurt a million as he won $3.1 million, but it didn’t last very long. In only two years, Hurt ended up destroying his marriage, lost custody of his children and was also charged for attempted murder. According to his attorney, most of Hurt’s money was spent on drugs and divorce.

Billie Bob Harrell Jr.

He quit his job at Home Depot of stocking shelves in 1997 when the Lotto Texas game made Billie Bob Harrell Jr. the winner of $31 million. He lent some money to friends, donated money to the church and bought a few homes and a ranch. Everyone wanted a piece of his winnings and he ended up spending or lending his money, which also put his marriage in trouble. Less than two years after winning the lottery, Billie Bob took his own life in 1999.

Janite Lee

In 1993, Janite Lee won a sum of $18 million. According to some reports, the annual costs of her gambling habit were approximately $300,000. But, she spent even more on political and charitable donations. Due to her generosity, she even donated $1 million to the Washington University for building a new library and ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2001.

Sharon Tirabassi

Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, Sharon Tirabassi came out the winner in 2004 and took home $10.5 million. She took her friends for vacations in Florida, Cancun, California, Las Vegas and the Caribbean. Sharon got married and purchased a house valued at $515,000. However, she decided not to make the payments in cash and took out a mortgage of $360,000. She gave away millions of dollars to her friends and family and purchased various cars including one that cost $200,000. Half of her winnings were gone by 2007 and by 2008, Tribassi lost her home and her husband was in jail due to a DUI. Now, she travels by bus to her part-time job for paying her rent and supporting her kids.

Suzanne Mullins

The Virginia lottery in 1993 made Suzanne Millins a millionaire with a jackpot of $4.2 million. She split the money with her husband and after tax-payments of $47,778, she was supposed to receive 20 annually. But, Suzanne borrowed some money from a company that gives loans to lottery winners because money was tight. The rules of the lottery changed in 2000 and she was able to get her money altogether. Instead of paying back what she owed, she spent all her money. According to a court ruling in 2004, Suzanne still owed the lender $154,147.

Denise Rossi

In 1996, Denise Rossi was able to take home $1.3 million thanks to the California lottery. Rather than disclosing her win to her husband of 25 years, she asked for a divorce and said she wanted it done quickly. Her husband later found out about her decision and sued her. It was determined by a judge in 1999 that she had violated asset disclosure laws and had to give her ex every penny of her winnings.

Alex Toth

The Florida lottery jackpot of $13 million was taken home by Alex Toth in 1990. For a few years, he lived rather well, but eventually he went broke. He ended up splitting from his wife, spent some time in a mental institution and also got into trouble for not filing accurate tax returns. He was able to avoid a trial over his tax fraud charges because he died in 2008 at the age of 60.

David Lee Edwards

While he was living in his parents’ basement and unemployed, David Lee Edwards won the Powerball jackpot worth $280 million with three other people. His share of the jackpot, after taxes, was about $27 million. He spent $1 million on a fleet of cars, bought a house for $600,000, a jet that cost $1.9 million, a fiber-optics installation company for $4.5 million, a watch costing $78,000 and 200 swords and other medieval weapons. He also married a woman who was 19 years his junior. He had spent $12 million in just one year and lost the house to foreclosure. His wife was arrested for a boyfriend-stabbing and he died in 2013.