$315 Million Powerball Winner is penniless

Remember Jack Whittaker? He was the West Virginia man who won the $315 million Powerball lottery on Christmas 2002, then the largest undivided lottery prize in U.S. history.

After the lump sum and taxes, he took home $113 million dollars.

Today, he is broke.

His fame and fortune went downhill after he received his winnings. He has faced his granddaughter's death by drug overdose; he has been sued for bouncing checks at Atlantic City, N.J., casinos; he has been ordered to undergo rehab after being arrested on drunken driving charges; his vehicles and business have been burglarized; and he has been sued by the father of an 18-year-old boy, a friend of his granddaughter's, who was found dead in Whittaker's house.

Now, thieves have used fake checks at 12 City National Bank branches and cleaned Mr. Whittaker out.

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Can you feel sorry for him? The opinion is pretty much mixed. Historically, past lottery winners have not been doing so well. A survey taken a few years ago shows that over 75 percent of lottery winners end up poor or back to where they have started. Another survey tells us that lottery winners will go broke in less than 5 years. (I am looking for these sources, btw.)

Take another example. Juan Rodriguez, a parking attendant struck gold when he won the NY Mega Millions jackpot of $149 million. A month ago, he was filing for bankruptcy and had about 78 cents in his savings account. Shortly after, his wife sued for divorce and wanted his winnings.

In this article, Bankrate.com published an article on 8 lottery winners who have won the past and ended up broke or poor.

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All of us have told ourselves that we will not repeat the same mistakes like those past lottery winners, but it seems impossible to escape from the instant fame and fortune of winning the lottery. Suddenly, the number of relatives that you think you know about have gone up a factor of 5. Friends from high school or college suddenly are in touch with you. Calls from entrepreneurs about rich profit-making projects will go up the wazoo.

The chances of losing your friends and family will become extremely likely.

How to avoid all of that mess, or to try to mitigate the impact?

1) There has to be some way to avoid being photographed with that large-sized paycheck the lottery officials will give you. It is also ridiculous for them to put the full total of the lottery jackpot since the net amount after the lump-sum option and taxes is much smaller.

2) Identity change? Sometimes it may be best to change that phone number or address to avoid the flood of spam calls that you will be getting.

3) Choose the annunity payout instead of lump-sum. This may seem reasonable if you want to give yourself a short-period salary instead of everything at once. It will give you a better deal of handling your funds.

4) If you do pick the lump-sum payout, put most of it in a trust fund and impose some sort of lockbox mechanism, and set some sort of withdrawal limit on yourself. Good for setting some sort of financial responsibility.

5) If you are married, a revised pre-nup or marriage contract to reflect the lottery winnings. In this time of age, love will not help you if you win the largest lottery jackpot in history.

6) Any friend that suddenly appeared out of the blue must undergo a background check.

Anything more to add?

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Comments

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Posted by: Trish
Posted on: April 6, 2007 11:12 PM

Jack. I can not imagine what you are going through. All I can say is I have hit rock bottom and then discovered who I was. I have come a long way, thinking that why me their is no way this is happening to me. My whole world Colapsed. Your grand daughter would not want you to feel bad or depressed. She wants you to live life to the fullest. Do not let the money control you, you control it. I know how she felt. It wasnt you, it was her. She took the wrong road and could not get out of it...it takes a lot. It is not a person who can save her it was her choice. Not you or your wife could of saved her, that had to be decided by her and only her. I have lost a lot as well. Money is not everything. But yes people need money in this world to survive. I have an idea for you and you alone to decide please email me if you get this. I am not like other people. I believe in the Great Spirit. GOD and if it wasnt for my belief I would not be here. I want to help, we can just email to talk. NO meeting etc..you can check me out as well. Your grand daughter lives on in you and everyone she touched. She is always with you. She wants you to live and you can through her...Email me when you are ready. Thank You and may the Great Spirit Bless you.

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Posted by: jennifer
Posted on: April 6, 2007 11:23 PM

I think he is a good person who meant well. Things don't always turn out the way you planned for them to and I think he was taken advantage of by everybody! I see a good man when i look at him, and i consider myself a good judge of character. i think the best thing he can do is to salvage his marraige, do whatever it takes and move where they are not well known and live there life. He said it himself you need money to get by, but family is what matters the most!

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Posted by: trinity
Posted on: April 16, 2007 05:36 PM

People who never had money don't know how to deal with it when they actually have it in their hands. Money does not change people. These are the kind of people who sit around saying if I won the lottery I would buy a great big home, fancy cars, and build churches save the poor and so on.
They put themselves in the spotlight a make it known by EVERYONE that they have money. Really if you want to help that’s great, but if you help just to be recognized then that is just inviting trouble. Think about it you deposit a million in to your bank account do you announce it out loud inside the bank as you are making a deposit?

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Posted by: Angela
Posted on: August 27, 2007 01:52 PM

I think Mr. Whittaker meant well. You have to stop and ask yourself, who would probably come after you wanting money. I think the lotto should never disclose one's name.
I also believe his granddaughter does live on through him.
I've often dreamed of what I would do if I wont the lotto. I need very little, a new roof on my house would be nice, but with that much money lingering at you, I think I would indulge more than I should too. After reading the things Mr. Whittaker has been through, I don't want to be one of the statics.
I wish him the best and will pray for him and his family.
Angela

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Posted by: lynn
Posted on: September 16, 2007 09:58 AM

Jack if you read this please know their are people out here that empathize with you I to had it all i thought but when I lost everything I found I had very few friends that stuck by me.It's been 13 yrs of hard work and struggling to get by raising my daughter alone and fighting to keep her everyday...i was so sorry to hear of your losses as time has gone by you seem to keep losing,I don't know you but I would like you to know It's times like these you should let people help,encourage and help you understand life is not fair but you can overcome this...with new friends who don't want your money.If you should be looking for a friend I am here to talk with and just share ways to help get you thru this hard time.Email me if you like and have a great day 'cuz you can.

Jack, jack the dumb ass, I can't believe you ran though all this money. I played that game that year and I didn't win nothing, you were already rich and I am poor, so you got what you deserved, I watched the special on t.v where you were sad and feeling sorry for your self, live like the rest of us, If you weren't so stupid, you might have used your head, instead of giving your dumb ass granddaughter all that money each month, so you have no one to blame but yourself.
Ha! Ha!

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Posted by: judy
Posted on: January 23, 2008 05:01 PM

I, for one, do not judge you. I can't imagine what it would be like to win such a large sum of money. I have learned a great deal from your mistakes, Mr. Whitaker, and many others have also, I'm certain. But, if tested, who knows what would happen to me/them if we were put in a like position. I am sorry that such a fortune ended in such misfortune and misery for you. It is interesting to know what you value in life before being given so much. Like education. If someone came to me for money,
after such a windfall, I would maybe invest in their education alone so that they can provide for themselves. I have a wealthy friend that helps his friends with "a new smile" from the
cosmetic dentist so they present themselves better to the world and with confidence. I leave you now to go and ponder what I value most in life. I would guess that most of it will not require material items. But I speak prematurely. I truly wish you well. The very best thing to do is to learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others as to not repeat, then all is not in vain..

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Posted by: judy
Posted on: January 23, 2008 05:23 PM

I, for one, do not judge you. I can't imagine what it would be like to win such a large sum of money. I have learned a great deal from your mistakes, Mr. Whitaker, and many others have also, I'm certain. But, if tested, who knows what would happen to me/them if we were put in a like position. I am sorry that such a fortune ended in such misfortune and misery for you. It is interesting to know what you value in life before being given so much. Like education. If someone came to me for money, after such a windfall, I would maybe invest in their education alone so that they can provide for themselves. I have a wealthy friend that helps his friends with "a new smile" from the cosmetic dentist so they present themselves better to the world and with confidence. I leave you now to go and ponder what I value most in life. I would guess that most of it will not require material items. But I speak prematurely. I truly wish you well. The very best thing to do is to learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others as to not repeat, then all is not in vain.

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Posted by: Divorce
Posted on: January 25, 2008 08:24 AM

Even in this day and age the vast majority of people getting married do not first enter into prenuptial agreements. If they continue to believe that divorce is too unlikely to need to prepare for, what are the chances they will try to protect their as yet unrealized lottery winnings by way of a prenuptial agreement. And once the ticket has been drawn, it's too late.

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Posted by: Phil
Posted on: January 31, 2008 08:24 PM

Very good article. I will link to it from my site www.numberspicker.com
I want everybody to win, but I want them to be aware of the risks of winning too ! :)

Thanks,

Phil

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Posted by: SB777
Posted on: February 20, 2008 08:11 AM

Winning the Lottery gives you the chance to have a Family Dynasty. Rich people DONT work. Their children NEVER HAVE TO WORK. They go to schools, travel, some become business people but they NEVER HAVE to work.

If you simply gave the winnings over to a team of financial planners/attorneys/accountants they could invest the winnings to give you a source of income that would NEVER run out for 300 generations of your family. And I'm talking about $400,000 a year forever.

This is what Jack blew... He blew his family's chance to NEVER WORK for 20 generations!!

SO STUPID!!!! You got what you deserve buddy. Now drink yourself to death thinking about it.

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Posted by: mary
Posted on: February 27, 2008 10:57 PM

I didn't hit the lottery but was handed down a large trust fund at the age of fifteen to which I had access at the age of eighteen. I am 38 years old and have never had to work. I am educated and well traveled. I am grateful for the financial perks in my life but aside from that, I am very lonely and have little self respect. I'm also embarrassed that I have become an unproductive unmotivated person. I can say with certainty that money doesn't buy true happiness or wholeness, especially when one doesn't earn it.

You have to fall down to raise up. Have confidence in yourself and pacience and you will raise to the top!!

I know you could say, well dont play the lottery if you dont want to be rich.
But no one is a mind reader, and carry yourself with dignity, unlike the UK lotto lout micheal carrol, and you should be able to lead a semi normal life if thats what you want.

You just might need to move to a posher part of town ;-)

Almost everyone dreams of hitting the jackpot by getting the right numbers. After all no matter how much you win, it all comes down how you manage it. My guess is he got looted somehow hence it's a must to get one's identity changed or disappear right after winning such amount. He seems to be a naive person and probably was not ready for that kind of lifestyle. It's sad of course...

There are also wealth management advisors who are pretty good at dealing with newly rich people. You have no idea at how sudden the amount of problems these lucky winners can have after striking jackpot.

There was a situation in the UK where an old lady had won the lottery (over 3 million pounds) - but did not want the winnings and refused to accept them! Why play if you do not want to win?

As the lady did not want the winnings they were to go to the lottery company Camelot - but the public created such an uproar that I understand camelot give it to charity.

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Posted by: diabetes
Posted on: May 2, 2009 10:39 AM

What a big "problem" that millions of people would want... :) Anyone knows what's the latest on the poor guy?

Very sad story, I am very sad to read this. The point you tell are very nice 7 useful for voiding this mess.

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Posted by: Peppa
Posted on: May 14, 2009 12:23 AM

Wow, 75% of lottery winners end up back where they started! What are these crazy people doing, some people blow it even when it's handed to them on a plate.

A 25-year-old Spanish woman from the island of Majorca has just who won a record (for Europe) of 126 million euros (172 million dollars) in the Euro Millions lottery. She only learned of her good luck days later after spending the weekend bed-ridden with the flu! This is paid as one lump sum tax free - so I guess it is technically larger than the record powerball winner. I wonder if she will blow it all? What is she going to buy first? - A country house & a horse!? She was quoted as saying "I have always liked animals, nature, sensitive things..,"

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Posted by: Charles
Posted on: May 24, 2009 11:19 AM

Here's a rality check -


I've never understood this phenomena about wanting to brag to the world, or make a big deal about having money. I just don't get it, at all, and definitely have no interest in having the annoyance of hordes of fake friends clustering about.


I've lived my entire life this way, including times when I did in fact have a very successful career and business. My tendency is to keep my financial affairs private, and have always had a casual appearance and manner of being.


Unfortunately, in recent times. health challenges and financial difficulties have changed all that, but here is the interesting part - the same small inner circle of friends I have known for decades are still here, except for those who have passed away in recent times.


I have given much to various charities over the years, but in those circumstances also, such donations have always been very low key, and often were provided anonymously, or through a third party.


I suppose if I were lucky enough to suddenly win a lottery now, I could literally buy a few more years of life, in that my current medical situation will likely bring an end to my current life in this world soon enough.


It is odd, as I read these accounts of various folks with their lottery debacles.


The pathologies seem to be the same in almost every example - a bizarre need to act out in crazy ways and become the center of attention, and develop destructive addictions and habits as an artifact of their sudden change in financial circumstances.


Well, perhaps I have been fortunate not to have ever won anything, as whatever I ever have had in life I earned, with work and focused effort, and more than a few times I've had to start over again.


Perhaps there is a strange sort of pattern here, in that those who seem to suffer from the most obvious difficulties and behavioral flaws have had these inherent aspects to their psyche before any lottery winnings ever came to pass.


The winning of the lottery merely amplified an already existing pathology in such individuals.


But that's just a wild theory on my part - and I freely admit my chances of winning anything are remote at best.


It is odd to see this, however. My question would be, how many folks who have won such lotteries did not suffer from such obviously errant ways, and in fact quietly went about their business, and went on to live imeaningful and fulfilling lives?


Any data on this?

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Posted by:
Posted on: July 2, 2009 09:29 AM

People should not change their lifestyle just because they had so much money overnight.

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