5 Times That Winning the Lottery Ruined People’s Lives

  • Gloria Mackenzie died in squalor after her son swindled her US$278m win
  • Mukhtar Mohidin was shunned and ended up in an unmarked grave after his win
  • The brother of a Pennsylvania lottery winner hired a hitman to kill him
  • A California woman hid a lottery win from her husband and filed for divorce
  • An Ontario man killed his wife after she gave CA$2m (US$1.5m) to her secret child
Man cheering holding winning lottery ticket
While many people dream about winning life-changing money in the lottery, things don’t always end well for people who hit it big. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Not always a good thing

Winning the lottery is a dream for anyone who buys a ticket. People daydream about everything that they would do with the winnings, whether it is buying luxury cars, jetting around the world on private planes, or buying a new house. The odds of winning the big jackpots are naturally very slim, but anyone who has a ticket is in with a chance.

The feeling of delight that big winners get must be out of this world. Once the initial high has worn off, though, reality often sets in. Taxes eat up a big portion of the jackpot in a lot of cases. Sometimes winners will have to accept an even smaller amount if they want to take their winnings in a lump sum rather than regular payments over the long run.

not equipped with the financial knowledge to properly manage their new-found wealth

People also are often not equipped with the financial knowledge to properly manage their new-found wealth. This can lead to the funds getting squandered, with many individuals ending up worse off than before they had their initial win. A study looking at 35,000 lottery winners in Florida found that these types of people are likelier to go bankrupt than the average Joe.

Some try to keep their win private so they are not plagued by people trying to get a slice of the action. Jealous friends and family can lead to a lot of issues, with everyone feeling entitled to a cut. This article will look at some of the most notable times when lottery wins ended up ruining people’s lives.

1. Son squanders away US$278m

Gloria Mackenzie once held the distinction of winning the biggest-ever Powerball jackpot, capturing a US$590.5m prize in 2013. The 84-year-old planned to live out the rest of her days in luxury before passing on her wealth to family members.

convinced his mother that he had contributed US$5 toward the cost of the winning ticket

Her son Scott took advantage of this sentiment, squandering most of the US$278m after-tax winnings. He convinced his mother that he had contributed US$5 toward the cost of the winning ticket and deserved half of the money. He ended up hiring a financial advisor who ran a local radio show to manage the money.

Gloria Mackenzie ended up dying in a squalid duplex at the age of 92. She sued her son for damages before her demise, alleging that Scott and the investment manager poorly invested the proceeds and lived off the money themselves.

2. Man shunned by community and family after £18m (US$22.8m) win

Mukhtar Mohidin was one of the first big lottery winners in the UK. He won £18m (US$22.8m) in November 1994, the same month the National Lottery launched. The former factory worker initially tried to donate money to Islamic causes, but the Muslim community refused and shunned him as gambling was against their faith.

He then ended up spiralling into a life of gambling, alcoholism, and prostitutes. This led to his wife divorcing him and leaving with their three kids. Mohidin then had a child with an escort but he was soon on his own once more after issuing death threats to the woman.

He eventually died in 2017 at the age of 64 and was buried in an unmarked grave. Mohidin was reportedly staying in a £35 (US$44) per night Blackpool hotel in the years leading up to his death.

3. Brother of US$16m winner hired hitman to kill him

Some people are so desperate to get their hands on the money of a lottery winner that they even resort to murder. A Pennsylvania man won US$16.2m in 1988 and managed to fall into trouble quickly. William “Bud” Post III had pawned a ring for US$40 to buy the lucky ticket.

After winning the jackpot, his first major purchase was a twin-engine plane, as well as a business for one of his brothers to run. Just three months after getting the money, he was US$500,000 in debt.

ended up in prison for six years after shooting at a debt collector

Then came the revelation that one of his brothers hired a hitman to kill Bud and his sixth wife in an attempt to get some inheritance. Despite these efforts, the couple survived. The financial situation continued to worsen, with Bud having to declare bankruptcy soon after. He ended up in prison for six years after shooting at a debt collector and eventually died in 2006 when he was 66 years old living off disability payments.

4. Woman divorced husband immediately after US$1.3m win

Denise Rossi won a US$1.3m jackpot and decided to hide the news from her husband. She instead filed for divorce 11 days later after 25 years of marriage. Thomas Rossi eventually found out about the win a few years later after he was accidentally sent a letter from the firm that was paying out the winnings.

Thomas ended up taking his ex-wife to court over the matter, where the judge ruled that Denise had violated disclosure of assets and funds laws, as well as having acted in malice or fraud. She was ordered to pay all of the lottery winnings to her ex-husband.

5. Man murdered wife after she gave CA$2m (US$1.5m) to secret child

A woman in Ontario who won about CA$5m (US$3.7m) in a 1991 lottery draw was killed by her husband after he found out what she was doing with the funds. Joseph Roncaioli discovered his wife’s win and that she gave CA$2m (US$1.5m) of the winnings to a secret child she had with a different man. He poisoned her by injecting her with a cocktail of painkillers. He received a seven-year prison sentence for manslaughter.  

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