Andrew “Jack” Whittaker Jr., who won the biggest-at-the-time US Powerball jackpot of $315 million on Christmas day in 2002, has died at the age of 72. The Associated Press wrote that after winning, he “quickly fell victim to scandals, lawsuits and personal setbacks as he endured constant requests for money, leaving him unable to trust others.” He experienced tragedy after tragedy in the wake of winning: the suspicious deaths of both his granddaughter and her friend, losing his daughter to cancer, a divorce, losing his home in a fire, multiple burglaries, law suits, DUI charges, and a stolen briefcase containing $545,000. Luckily, he got the last one back.
“I’m only going to be remembered as the lunatic who won the lottery. I’m not proud of that. I wanted to be remembered as someone who helped a lot of people.”Mr. Whittaker, Powerball winner
After building a successful construction company, his private wealth was estimated to be $17 million prior to winning the Powerball. Since his granddaughter, who had originally been designated to receive his inheritance, was found dead, it us unknown who will benefit from his wealth.
“It may seem impossible that you could win millions of dollars and wish you hadn’t. But it’s happened often enough that the phenomenon has been dubbed the ‘lottery curse.'”Sandra Grauschopf, contests and sweepstakes expert at The Balance Everyday
One article, entitled “Lottery Curse Victims: 7 People Who Won Big & Lost Everything,” shares the accounts of six other lottery winners who experienced similar tragedies. Many winners, including Whittaker, have eventually said that they wished they had torn up their winning ticket. “Since I won the lottery, there’s no control for greed,” Whittaker once said. Another article from CNBC listed off warnings about six mistakes many lottery winners make, noting, “More money, more problems.” The list includes advice from Jonathan Vargas, another winner: Don’t be impulsive.