Winning the Lottery Ruined His Life

Jack Whittaker won a $314.9 million jackpot 10 years ago. And despite his altruism, things didn't go well for him.

Winning the Lottery Ruined His Life Photo (cc) by Lisa Brewster

We recently wrote about how lottery winners often struggle. Now BusinessWeek has a long, sad story about the last lottery winner we mentioned there. He was already a successful businessman, but after winning went through addiction, court cases, multiple family deaths and a divorce. A lawyer who’s represented several winners explains why winning is a burden…

In his experience, [Mike] Kosnitzky says, most lottery winners suffer tremendous guilt as the result of their good fortune; they’re also troubled by family members and friends who feel entitled to their winnings and who become angry when they don’t get what they feel they deserve. Without access to financially and psychologically sophisticated advice, winners quickly find themselves easy marks for every kind of manipulation and often take refuge in preexisting addictions, which are compounded by seemingly inexhaustible wealth.

Money can’t fix everything – and, it turns out, can ruin a lot. Definitely read the whole thing.

Brandon Ballenger
Brandon Ballenger @btballenger
I'm a freelance journalist living in South Florida. If I'm not writing, I'm playing video games or at the beach. My favorite spice is oregano, and I thought you should know. I ... More

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