5 Lottery Winners Who Learned the Real Value of Money

Your big windfall could be just around the corner, but remember that money can’t buy happiness — and it apparently can’t buy common sense either. Here are 5 lottery winners who burned through their fortunes in record time and ended up as poor (or poorer) than they were before they struck gold.

Michael Carroll

Michael Carroll was only 19 and working as a garbage man when he won the British National Lottery back in 2002, scooping up a jackpot of £9.7 million ($14.4 million US). Dubbed the ‘Lotto Lout’ by the British press, Carroll brazenly spent his money on booze, drugs and hookers as well as a house in Swaffam (where he charmed the neighbors by catapulting steel balls through their car windows and hosting demolition derbies) and a Mercedes (which he emblazoned with the words ‘King of Chavs’).

Within ten years, the money had run dry and Carroll was reapplying for his old position as a garbage man. Today, Carroll has cleaned up his lifestyle and is making only $300 a week at a cookie factory but he admits he’s much happier. “I treasure those wages more than any £9million fortune” Carroll says. “I’ve only got one chance left – I’d have been dead in six months if I’d carried on that lifestyle of drinking and drug taking.”

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Sharon Tirabassi

Growing up poor and suddenly having millions of dollars dropped into your lap can sometimes be a recipe for disaster. It was for 35-year-old Canadian woman Sharon Tirabassi when she won a Lotto Super 7 payout of $10 million back in 2004, going from being a single mother on welfare to a millionaire overnight. She wasted no time handing out money to family and friends, buying four luxury cars, expensive clothes and trips around the world. Nine years later, Tirabassi and her family are living in a rented house and she takes the bus to work to support her family. Only a few remnants of her brief flirtation with wealth remain, including some Michael Jackson and Maple Leafs memorabilia and a turntable-equipped Cadillac.

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Jack Whittaker

Everyone thought Jack Whittaker was the luckiest man in America when he won the record breaking $315 million Powerball jackpot in 2002 but it turned out his bad luck was just beginning. Since his big win, Whittaker has gotten divorced, been arrested, sent to rehab and sued for bounced cheques and an alleged assault. In 2003, a briefcase containing $500,000 cash was stolen from his car and never recovered.  His granddaughter, with whom he shared his wealth by giving her a generous weekly allowance, fell into illegal drugs and died from an overdose in 2004. Whittaker was also sued for the death of his granddaughter’s friend who overdosed on his property.

Having given away much of his fortune before everything went south, Whittaker claimed the remaining money was stolen and says he wish he’d torn the winning ticket up.

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