Pondering Powerball Fever Over Coffee - 70% of the people who win big, lose it!


Mr. Coffee and I are not regular lottery players.  About once a year or maybe two, he might get the bug when the jackpot is high and buy 2 tickets; dreaming of the 'what if' he actually won.  However, we realize the odds of giving birth to conjoined twins are larger than the odds of winner the 'big' bucks so we don't sweat it.

Tonight I was thinking about the guy that won back in the early 2000's that got robbed at a strip club... that's all I could remember at the time but a quick internet search got me his name.  "Jack" Whittaker of West Virginia, who won the $315 million Powerball jackpot back in 2002.

I learned a lot of things I didn't know about him;

  • Whittaker was already a self-made millionaire through his construction business. 
  • After taxes, he ended up with $83 million.
  • Whittaker carried around so much cash that he was constantly getting robbed. (I already mentioned him getting robbed in a strip club... the only thing I remembered about him.)  He got drunk and had a briefcase full of cash with him that was taken.

"Upon winning the then-largest-ever $314 million Powerball jackpot in 2002, the West Virginia construction company owner said he wanted to pay tithes to the Church of God, get some of his laid-off workers back on the job and start a charitable foundation.

He might buy a helicopter, and he'd definitely pamper his daughter and granddaughter, he said.

"I'm not going to buy anything for myself," he said during a news conference announcing his windfall. "The very first thing I'm going to do is, I'm going to go home. I'm going to sit down and make out three checks to three pastors for 10% of this check. That's the very first thing I'm going to do."

Already a millionaire via his company, Whittaker predicted the money wouldn't faze him at all. His life, he said, would carry on normally.

"If I can help it, it's not going to change. I'm content with my life," he told reporters. "I'm not going to change my life much."

Within four years Whittaker was a broken-down man who had lost his granddaughter to drugs and who had a reputation for DUIs, frequenting strip clubs and getting robbed. His divorce would be finalized the following year.

"70% of those incurring a financial windfall 
lose that money within a few years, 
according to the National Endowment 
for Financial Education"

  • William Post was on disability in 1988 when he pawned a ring for $40 and bought 40 tickets through the Pennsylvania state lottery. One of those tickets won him $16.2 million. But then his own brother tried to kill him. He bought an airplane, a mansion and various businesses, leaving him bankrupt and divorced for a sixth time by the time he died in 2006.
  • Alex Toth was also on disability, and had six kids with his wife, when he played the Florida state lottery in 1990 and won $33 million, according to the Tampa Bay Times. They were hounded by relatives and blew money in Las Vegas. Years later, they got busted for cheating on their taxes, owing back taxes, bouncing checks and growing marijuana. By 2002, their 10-acre plot had dwindled to a half-acre with a trailer and they were left penniless.
  • Urooj Khan, a man described as a successful, hardworking Indian immigrant, died of cyanide poisoning the day after collecting $425,000 from a scratch-off lottery ticket. No arrest has been made.
  • A British man squandered a 2002 jackpot of 9.7 million pounds, much of it on cocaine and hookers, only to find himself working as garbage man again by 2010.
  • A St. Louis wig maker won $18 million in 1993, only to spend so lavishly on political and philanthropic causes and filed for bankruptcy four years later.
  • A New Jersey woman won the lottery twice -- a grand total of $5.4 million -- but was so helpless to avoid games of chance that she ended up in a trailer after giving the lion's share of her money to Atlantic City casinos.

Tonight the jackpot is up to 900 million.
Did we buy a ticket?