The big drawing is almost here, and you have a good feeling this time!
The lottery jackpot has rarely been this high, so you’ve stocked up on tickets. You’ve played all your lucky numbers – and if you had a really good feeling, you’ve played it more than once.
Now there’s nothing to do but sit back and wait for the guy on TV to call the numbers one by one. You’ve spent a lot of money on lottery over the years, but you think your ship’s about to come in. You have big plans if you strike it big immediately, and you can bet one of your first calls will be to that boss of yours to tell him where he can put his overtime! You wonder how other people have dealt with a massive change in their life like winning hundreds of millions in the lottery. Instead of anxiously waiting for the drawing, you decide to answer that question.
What happened to the biggest lottery winners of all time?
Are they still rich, or did all that money go down the drain?
Winning the lottery may sound like a dream come true, but stay tuned and you’ll see that more often than not, it’s a living nightmare. Lotteries are played all around the world, and they usually take the same format – you play a collection of numbers, anywhere from three to six, and to win the jackpot you have to match everyone to the numbers that are drawn at random. Almost every state in the United States has its own lotteries if you want to compete for smaller sums, but if you’re looking for the biggest jackpots, you’ll want to play two multi-state lotteries – Powerball and Mega Millions. Offered in forty-five states and the District of Columbia, they’re drawn twice a week. You not only have to match five numbers exactly, but you then have to match the Powerball or Megaball – a special ball drawn at the end – in that final spot to win the jackpot.
You can choose to get the money in a thirty-year annuity, but most people pick a cash value of a little over half immediately The odds are low – one in over two hundred and fifty million to hit the jackpot – but the jackpots can go sky-high.
The record-setter for the biggest lottery jackpot in history was a Powerball drawing worth over 1.5 billion dollars. But lottery jackpots can be won by more than one person, and winners have to split it, so single prizes that high are rare. The jackpots have grown a lot since then, but in 2002, West Virginia businessman Jack Whittaker set a record with his $314 million PowerBall win. It was the biggest jackpot ever won by a single person, and the successful businessman wasn’t a regular lottery player.
But he decided to play a ticket for the huge jackpot when getting a breakfast sandwich at a deli and became one of the state’s richest men. He chose the cash option of $113 million immediately and gave ten percent away to Christian charities. He even started his own foundation to provide food and clothing to poor families in West Virginia and gave the deli manager who sold him the ticket a new house and Jeep.
Things, however, were about to take an extremely tragic turn.
More money didn’t mean more success and happiness for Jack Whittaker.
He had already been wealthy before his win, but now he was famous.
Less than a year after his win, thieves broke into his car and stole a suitcase containing $545,000 in cash at a strip club he frequented, two employees plotted to drug Whittaker and then rob him. A boyfriend of his granddaughter was later found dead of a drug overdose in his home,
and tragedy soon followed when his granddaughter was found dead.
Whittaker spiraled downward, getting arrested for drunk driving and being sued by Atlantic City casinos for bounced checks. He later claimed that he was broke after being defrauded at banks.
In 2009, his daughter was found dead, and in 2016 Whittaker’s home was burned to the ground.
The Powerball jackpot brought nothing but misery to Jack Whittaker.
That certainly didn’t stop other people from playing, and the more people play, the higher the jackpot goes.
When the Powerball got to 1.5 billion for the first time in January 2016, it created a buying frenzy. So it’s not a surprise that there was more than one winning ticket, winners in California, Florida, and Tennessee each took home 327 million in cash.
Middle-aged Munford, Tennessee couple John and Lisa Robinson didn’t have big plans for the money at first, saying they were happy with their humble life. But the temptations of big money did win them over, and they bought a lavish lakeside mansion for over six million dollars.
That’s pocket change for the wealthy couple, and they’ve stayed out of the limelight since and have saved most of their money. Melbourne, Florida couple Maureen Smith and David Kaltschmidt also didn’t want their
lives to change too much when they took their share of the jackpot.
Friends and family say they still live in their nice $300,000 home and visit the same restaurants they did before their jackpot.
Maureen even buys the occasional Powerball ticket, because she always liked to play, but otherwise little has changed. They did make one big purchase – a gold-plated Tesla that Maureen likes to drive around town in.
While the first two couples came forward quickly, it was almost six months before Chino Hills, California couple Marvin and Mae Acosta came forward.
Younger than the other two couples, they’ve maintained their privacy and bought a new mid-sized house, but a lawyer for the couple says they’ve devoted most of their winnings to charities. The three winners of the biggest jackpot in history all stayed out of the limelight and maintained much of their previous lifestyle – just with a much fatter bank account.
But the jackpots got much bigger for some lucky individuals, who managed to be the only person who got the winning numbers. When Chicopee, Massachusetts medical worker Mavis Wanczyk found out she had won the 758 million Powerball jackpot – getting her a cool 480 million in cash value – she wasted no time changing up her life. She called up the hospital she had worked at for 23 years and told them she would not becoming in the next day. She then claimed her jackpot in under 24 hours – one of the fastest media appearances ever for a Powerball winner.
Lottery experts say you should play it cool, get an attorney, and wait to make any big life changes after winning, but Mavis was not in the mood to wait. After her win, Mavis largely went back to private life.
The mother of two adult children, she never sought out the limelight – which makes her rush to claim her prize all the odder. She’s the founder of a philanthropic group called the Heart to Heart Foundation, related to her work in the medical field, but she avoids the spotlight – not that you’d know
it if you looked on social media. Twitter and other platforms are littered with accounts claiming to be Mavis, doing giveaways to lucky people for a chunk of her money. It’s not her, of course – it’s an army of scammers looking to get ahold of people’s bank information. If you’re looking to get rich quick, you’d be better off buying a Powerball ticket likeMavis.
Mavis and the three jumbo Powerball winners were all settled when they won their jackpot, but that wasn’t the case for 24-year-old Manuel Franco.
The New Berlin, Wisconsin man had under $1,000 in his bank account when he decided to put down money for some tickets to the 2019 $768 million Powerball jackpot. When it came time for the drawing, he looked at the other ticket first and realized he had won $4. He was happy not to have lost money when he decided to check the other ticket and said he felt his heart start pumping as one number after another matched. He proceeded to scream for five to ten minutes, no doubt raising some alarm in the neighborhood and setting off all the local dogs. He went to work the next day, but quit soon after and hired a team of lawyers before claiming
his prize a month later. So what does a young man who suddenly has almost 400 million dollars in his pocket do?
He was self-aware and knew about cases of lottery winners who went broke. He announced his plant to travel, donate some money to charity, and pay for family members to go to college.But the young man didn’t show much interest in celebrity status and has stayed out of the limelight since he won. One thing he didn’t do – start a foundation to give away his money to random people on the internet, despite the many fake Twitter, accounts claiming to be him. Not all lottery winners used their winnings as wisely as these mega-jackpot winners did. With hundreds of multi-million dollar winners each year in lotteries around the world, many winners have come up with creative ways to blow all their money.
UK lottery winner John McGuinness not only spent his 17 million jackpot on cars and travel, but he also invested four million in a Scottish soccer team.
But when the club went into debt, his lottery fortune went up in smoke.
Michael Carroll, another UK lottery winner, knew exactly what he wanted to spend his money on – building a race track in his backyard for personal demolition derbies. But the teenager jackpot winner found that the cost of destroying things adds up, and his fortune was gone in eight years.
Others just decide to live their passions, like Irishman Peter Lavery, who bought an abandoned jail in Belfast and turned it into a personal whiskey distillery. He turns a tidy profit on it and has actually grown his fortune.
And then there’s Tony and Greta Dodd, an elderly couple who always loved to dance. When they won two million in the UK lottery, they treated each other to a new pair of knees! Their dual double knee replacements meant they could kick it up on the dance floor like they were twenty years younger.
But what happened to the biggest single lottery jackpot winner of all time? It was October 23rd, 2018, and the Mega Millions jackpot had risen to 1.537 billion dollars just shy of the all-time Powerball record. When the numbers were drawn, there was only one winning ticket, sold at a convenience
store in Simpsonville, South Carolina. All of the countries waited to see who had won a lump sum cash jackpot of 877 million dollars. And they waited month after month. As time ticked on, people wondered if anyone would come forward before the one-year deadline, or would the ticket turn into just another piece of paper?
Theories abounded about why the person was taking so long. Maybe they had lost the ticket and never even knew they won. Maybe they were wanted by the law and needed someone else to claim it for them. Maybe they were seeking legal advice and wanted to stay out of the limelight. Or maybe they found out they won, had a heart attack, and died on the spot from the shock, and the ticket flew under the cupboard.
Then, with less than a month to go before the deadline to claim a ticket, word came that the ticket had been claimed. Everyone waited to hear who the instant near-billionaire was – and they kept on waiting.
South Carolina is one of only a few states that allow lottery winners to stay anonymous, and that’s exactly what this winner chose. They enlisted New York winner Jason Kurland to represent them, and all that’s known
about them is that they’re a woman from South Carolina.