Top 20 Dumbest Lottery Winners In History

The top 20 dumbest lottery winners in history did not live happily ever after, today we look at their failure to manage their money in a correct fashion.

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20 — David Lee Edwards

Winning a share of the $27 million Powerball jackpot in 2002, David Lee Edwards thought all his luck had come at once.

He went on the mother of all spending sprees, purchasing a large house and buying a fleet of luxury supercars.

Unfortunately his wild partying got him involved in the world of narcotics and just five years after winning the jackpot, the money was gone.

Things got worse and when his wife left him and he continued his lifestyle of partying before he eventually died in 2013 at the age of just 58, alone and completely broke.

19 — Bill Bob Harrell

Working at Home Depot when he landed $31 million on the Texas Lottery Lotto jackpot, Bill Bob Harrell was quick to leave his job in 1997.

Purchasing homes for himself and his family members and helping out his local church with a large donation.

It would appear, however, that he became overly generous and helped out one too many people, leaving him bankrupt only 20 months after winning.

Harrell took his own life after reportedly telling his financial advisor that he wished he had never won the lottery.

18 — William Post

Nothing good came from William Post III’s $16.2 million Pennsylvania Lottery in 1988 and as soon as he received the cash things began to go downhill rapidly.

First, his wife successfully sued him for a large chunk of the winnings and then his brother attempted to have him murdered to steal the rest.

After a series of misfortunes, his spending became completely out of control and he ended up heavily in debt while living on food stamps for several years before his death in 2006.

17 — Ryan Magee

Nabbing a spot on the Sunday Times Top 100 rich list for young people, Ryan Magee’s winnings of £6.4 million were short-lived.

After first purchasing a Ferrari days after collecting the money, his luck began to change, ending up with a ban for driving whilst disqualified.

He invested the money in several failed businesses and eventually had to sell his own business and home, equipped with a large champagne bar, to pay off creditors.

16 — Lee Ryan

While awaiting trial for handling stolen vehicles, Lee Ryan purchased a lottery ticket that would end up netting him the equivalent of $10.3 million in 1995.

He spent another three years in prison before being able to spend the cash and when he was released, he of course spent the cash like water.

He left his wife and moved to Kyrgyzstan with a new girlfriend and later lost much of the money to scams.

He was broke in 2010 and spent 2 years sleeping on the streets of London being dubbed the “Lotto Lag” by the UK press.

15 — Peter Kyle

Peter Kyle’s numbers appeared on the UK National Lottery in 2005 and he took home a whopping $9.8 million in winnings.

He immediately went to play bingo to celebrate the win and won another 700 dollars.

Unfortunately, he pumped much of the cash into bad investments and by 2008, Kyle, who was a former soldier, ended up bankrupt and claiming unemployment benefits.

14 — John Roberts

Winning a massive $5.1 million on the UK National Lotter in 1998, he began immediately spending his cash on supercars and suspect investments.

One of these investments included a money-pit pub which by 2001 had drained Roberts of all his capital and left him broke.

He moved away from the area and was reported to be living in a mobile home.

13 — Jack Whittaker

Someone who always liked to help out the poor and needy, Jack Whittaker was soon corrupted by his $315 million dollar winnings.

He pledged 10% of his winnings to various churches and helped several people out of poverty before things began to take a turn for the worst.

After spending millions in booze and strip clubs he bankrolled his daughter’s drug habits and was the victim of a robbery that saw hundreds of thousands stolen from a suitcase in his car.

He lost both his daughters in the space of several years including one to a drugs overdose and the other, undisclosed circumstances.

His house burnt down, he was sued on multiple occasions and he raked up gambling debts against multiple casinos including one for $1.5 million.

Whittaker died on June 27, 2020, following a long illness and it is currently unclear if any of his winnings still exist.

12 — Vivian Nicholson

Penniless and living off a $120/ week pension, Nicholson did not lie after saying she would blow her $225,000 lottery winnings back in 1961.

Her insane spending spree included buying dresses from Harrods, being married five times and even being deported from Malta.

Her fortune would be worth approximately $4.5million in today’s money after inflation but don’t expect her to have spent it any slower.

11 — Janite Lee

Winning a record $80 million payout from the Missouri lottery back in 1993, 52-year-old Janite Lee immediately began spending.

Extreme in her generosity, she provided considerable lump sums of cash to various educational programs, community services, and political organizations.

Along with multiple million-dollar houses and cars, she donated $1 million to Washington University.

She used her money to meet influential people including Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and even the president of South Korea.

It would appear that the extreme philanthropy and gambling got the better of her finances with millions owed in bank loans and credit card debts the final chapter of her story.

10 — Ken Proxmire

In 1977, Ken Proxmire won $1 million in the Michigan State Lottery, and he chose to take his prize in yearly payments of $50,000 for the next fourteen years.

Proxmire used his winnings to experiment with his entrepreneur skills going into the car business with his brothers and opted to move to California.

However, the entrepreneur rapidly expanded his new business and, fueled by extravagant spending and increasing debt, was the catalyst for his high life crashing into bankruptcy.

Proxmire plunged headfirst into the high life of a multimillionaire and purchased himself and his family a house in California, as well as a new automobile and a pool parlor.

Now back to his old life working as a machinist, he has a simple life once again and some very important advice for anyone who wins the lottery.

“Crawl into a hole and pull the top in,” he said while being interviewed for The New York Times, it seems he learned his lesson the hard way.

9 — Suzanne Mullins

When she won $4.2 million on the lottery in 1993, she intended to split the 20 annual payments of $47800 with her spouse and daughter and opted for yearly payouts rather than a single lump sum.

Within five years, she’d found herself heavily in debt after using her future payouts as collateral for a $200000 loan.

Mullins converted her winnings to a one-time payment but as she never repaid her debts, the lending firm filed a lawsuit, obtaining a judgment for $154000 as compensation.

According to the court paperwork, Mullins has no money and the debt business has been unable to collect any of the payments.

She stated that she was in debt as a result of her uninsured son-in-law’s lengthy ailment, which required a million dollars for medical expenses.

8 — Sharon Tirabassi

Sharon Tirabassi from Hamilton, Ontario is a victim of her own goodwill after becoming the Canadian Lotto Super 7’s first $10.5 million winner in 2004.

Tirabassi spent lavishly on family and friends, buying everything from designer apparel to a Cadillac adorned with custom rims.

She went back to working part-time, as a bus driver, a far cry from the exotic trips, lavish parties, and luxury items when she had her lottery winnings
What’s left of her lottery winnings now resides in a trust for her children, and Tirabassi is living on a budget in a rented house.

7 — Lawrence Candlish

Winning £5.5 million on the UK National Lottery, Gateshead resident Lawrence Candlish lavished his family with gifts after receiving his winnings.

After purchasing property and cars on a veritable spending spree, Candlish moved to Spain in the year 2000.

He began falsely claiming UK disability benefits while living outside the county in an attempt to continue a business abroad and recoup some of the losses.

Plowing the rest of his winnings into several failed business schemes, the now penniless ex-pat returned to the UK to face the music in 2012.

6 — Evelyn Adams

The odds of winning the lottery are astronomical at best, even akin to being struck by lightning, yet Evelyn Adams managed to win in 1985 and one year later, in 1986.

A heavy gambler, Adams spent much of her money gambling it away in nearby Atlantic City, very quickly losing all her money.

Broke, and living in a trailer 20 years later, it proves that money doesn’t always buy happiness unless you manage it carefully.

5 — Michael Carroll

A 19-year-old garbage man who won almost 10 million British pounds on the UK National Lottery in 2002, Carroll’s meteoric rise to fame was almost instant.

Nicknamed the self-proclaimed ‘’King of Chavs’’ in British Newspapers, he had the phrase emblazoned on the side of his black Mercedes van.

Throughout the next few years, Carroll gained infamy for his extravagant lifestyle that included massive parties, gaudy golden jewelry, and expensive presents for family and friends.

He acquired a mansion called The Grange in Swaffham, England, and used a catapult to smash shop windows at 3 a.m., scaring the village with demolition derbies almost every day.

Carroll was banned from driving for six months and imprisoned for nine months in February 2006 after he had been convicted of affray. He had 42 prior convictions on his record.

Having re-applied for his old job after spending all his winnings, Carroll now lives in Scotland while working at a cookie factory.

He says he has no regrets about the way he spent his winnings and said had he won again he would probably repeat the same lifestyle.

4 — Callie Rogers

In 2003, Callie Rogers was only 16 when she won the National Lottery jackpot, worth almost £2 million or almost $3 million

She was earning $5 and 50 cents an hour in her job and, at the time, she vowed to behave responsibly, but as teenagers often do, Rogers quickly changed her mind.

She began spending her money on homes and vacations and revealed later that she’d spent about $380000 on wild parties.

She began working as a housekeeper again in her early twenties, after two suicide attempts and several years as a single mother of two.

After calming down, she is currently paying off considerable debt induced by her wild spending.

3 — Americo Lopes

After being part of a New York Lottery syndicate that had made many attempts to win the Megamillions jackpot, Americo Lopes numbers finally came up in November 2009.

He told his boss he wouldn’t be returning to work because he needed foot surgery and told no one else about the winnings except lottery officials.

He never received the surgery and even claimed benefits after claiming the winnings, which totaled over $17 million.

His former work colleagues later discovered his treachery and filed a lawsuit which resulted in Lopes having to split his winnings.

It’s currently unknown just how much money Lopes had left to spend after the money was distributed, but it was considerably less than what he tried to steal.

2 — Willie Hurt

Willie Hurt, who lived in a small city in Michigan, was a happily married family man until he won $3 million on the Michigan lottery.

In two years, Hurt divorced his wife, lost custody of his children, squandered all of his money, and was accused of open murder.

His lawyer said that all of the cash went towards Hurt’s messy divorce and his cocaine habit while the Judge sent him for a psychiatric evaluation.

Strangely enough, it is unclear what exactly happened to Mr. Hurt as no further reporting on the case was published and no records seem to exist of the trial.

Lottery officials did, however, state that even if convicted, Hurt would continue to receive his lottery-winning payments each month.

1 — Alex and Rhoda Toth

Winning $13 million in the Florida lottery sometime in 1990, it would appear that the money was nothing but bad luck for the pair.

After a series of legal battles with family, the pair were bankrupt by 2006 and were down to living in a tiny trailer on a small piece of land.

Their only power came from a vehicle engine and Alex was even arrested numerous times for producing marijuana plants.

The ending of this story is pretty grim with Alex dying while awaiting trial for tax evasion and Rhoda trying to evade justice on multiple occasions.

She was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay over $1 million in taxes after falsely claiming to be too ill to stand trial.

It would appear not to always be a good idea to tell everyone you have a large amount of cash on hand, and that includes, it seems, family.

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