Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Washington Times recently broke a series of stories outlining the shady deals of a company with a major share in the District’s $38 million lottery contract. With lotteries on the mind, this week’s list looks at lottery winners in America who succumbed to the pitfalls of sudden wealth and the greed of others.

  • Jeffrey Dampier: The Tampa, Fla., resident and his wife won the $20 million prize in 1996, and he spent plenty on his family. In 2005, the popcorn entrepreneur visited his sister-in-law when she claimed she had car troubles. Her boyfriend pulled a gun on Dampier, and the two kidnapped him and killed him. They were both convicted and received life sentences.
  • William “Bud” Post III: He called his winnings the “lottery of death.” The Pennsylvania man, who died in 2006, won $16.2 million in 1988, but it all went downhill. His sixth wife left him. He spent time in jail for firing a gun at a bill collector. His brother was convicted for hiring a hit man to kill him. In the end Post declared bankruptcy.
  • Jack Whittaker: Nothing but trouble followed the West Virginian after he won a record $314.9 million in the multistate Powerball lottery in 2002. He gave away $3 million to local churches. More than $545,000 in cash was stolen from his car while he was in a strip club. His granddaughter Brandi died of a drug overdose. He was arrested twice for drunken driving and ordered into rehab and pleaded no contest after attacking a bar manager. Last year, his daughter, Brandi’s mother, was found dead.
  • Kenneth P. Proxmire: The Hazel Park, Mich., man won $1 million in 1977. Within five years, he had declared bankruptcy, and his children and wife of 18 years left him.
  • Janite Lee: The South Korean immigrant won $18 million in St. Louis in 1993. Eight years later, the former wig-shop owner was broke. She gave huge sums of money to Democratic Party. She spent thousands on Democratic fundraising dinners, where she sat next to President Clinton twice and once next to Vice President Al Gore. Washington University’s School of Law established the Janite Lee Reading Room after she donated thousands. She lost more than $347,000 at casinos. She filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2001 with $700 left in her bank account.
  • Roy Clark: After winning $188,000 in the Florida lottery in 1989, Clark, 39, went through his winnings in less than a year, mostly on drinks and limousines. A year later, he was found crushed to death in a garbage truck after apparently falling asleep in a trash bin. He had $10 left in his pocket and was given a pauper’s burial.
  • Billie Bob Harrell Jr.:  In 1997, he won the Lotto Texas jackpot of $31 million. He purchased a ranch and bought half-dozen homes and cars for himself and other family members. The former Home Depot store worker made large contributions to his church. Twenty months later, he pressed a shotgun barrel against his chest and committed suicide.
  • Gary Jenkins: The San Marcos, Calif., resident won $727,000 in 1988. A week later, he found his wife dead with her throat cut by her former husband.
  • Evelyn Marie Adams: The Point Pleasant woman won the New Jersey lottery twice, in 1985 and 1986, but still managed to lose the entire $5.4 million. The former manager of a 7-Eleven store ended up living in a trailer.

Sources: Associated Press, Nexis, the Business Insider, The Washington Times.

Compiled by John Haydon, who has never won a lottery and feels pretty good about it.


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