What with the $333 Powerball jackpot being won by two lucky mooks over the weekend, I decided it’d be a good time to take a look at how money can’t buy you brains. Some wags call the lottery the “idiot tax” – after all, people who voluntarily throw their money down the hole of astronomical odds can’t be all that smart. That supposition seems to bear itself out in the stories below, where lucky winners see their entire life changing – for the worse. The men and women below had the American Dream in their hands and pissed it away. Let’s point and laugh at them, shall we?
Jack Whittaker Jr. – This one is somebody who was doing just fine before the lottery entered his life. At the age of 55, Whittaker was president of a successful contracting firm, worth over a million bucks. But then he won the largest Powerball payout in history – $315 million – and took the one-time cash payout option, walking away with $115 million after taxes burning a hole in his pocket. And burn it did – Jack would drop $100,000 at a local strip club only to have the bartender drug his drink and steal over half a million in cash from his car. A string of lawsuits (including one where he groped a woman’s ass at the dog track) and assorted financial shenanigans later, and poor Jack is now struggling to make ends meet, all $115 million down the hole.
Evelyn Adams – This New Jersey woman beat the odds by winning the jackpot not once, but twice, pocketing a cool $5.4 million – more than enough to live a comfortable life in the Garden State, right? You forget the siren song of Atlantic City, where Evelyn would feed quarters into the slot machines like there was no tomorrow. Only a few years after her last big payout, she was once again penniless and living in a trailer.
Michael Carroll – This British garbageman took home $15.4 million in the British National Lottery in 2002 at the age of nineteen and promptly launched into a bad-taste spending spree that earned him the self-given nickname “Chavvy McChavChav.” The “Lotto Lout” as the press also dubbed him, bought four houses, two cars, and an untold amount of cocaine, and by 2006 he was actually taking out loans to maintain what he referred to as his “party lifestyle.” He can still be found racing quadbikes around the ATV track he built in his backyard, and denies allegations that his money is already gone. The 2006 documentary “Michael Carroll: King of Chavs” offers amazing footage of him in his natural habitat.
Willie Hurt – Oh, yes he will. The appropriately-named Hurt took home a $3.1 million dollar jackpot in Michigan’s lottery in 1989, giving the Lansing native a chance to lift himself out of poverty and make a better life for him and his wife. Unfortunately, little Willie had other ideas, and within two years he had blown through his entire fortune on crack cocaine and a costly divorce settlement. Okay, the divorce I can understand, but crack? One and a half million dollars is a whole lot of crack. Like a spare bedroom’s worth. Was he swimming through it like Scrooge McDuck?
Jonathan Vargas – When you take home that oversized novelty check, it’s essentially the same as dropping a barrelful of pork fat into a kiddie pool full of piranhas – open season for all the con men, grifters and other sleazebags looking for a free ride. And what business is more full of bunko artists than professional wrestling? How else to explain 19 year old Justin Vargas turning his $35 million in Powerball winnings over to Jimmy “The Mouth Of The South” Hart to start an all-female wrestling league called Wrestlicious? A fool and his money are soon parted, true, but not to this degree.