The Worst Lottery Winner Horror Stories

For most people, winning the lottery is a dream come true. Overnight, all of your worries have seemingly been erased and a whole world of opportunity has opened up to you. From fast cars to luxury holidays and dream houses, you now have the money to do it all. While this is very true in the majority of cases, unfortunately for some it does not turn out like that.

In rare cases, the dream of a lottery win can soon descend into a real-life nightmare. From grasping friends, greedy family, and strangers all desperate to access your new-found wealth to more self-inflicted issues, navigating the minefield of a lottery win can be too much for some.

Here, we take a look at some of the worst lottery winner horror stories in history.

Marie Holmes

Before winning the lottery, Marie Holmes was a normal person who worked a standard job at her local Walmart. Her life changed for the worse overnight when she discovered her random numbers in the lottery had netted her $188 million! The fortune soon dwindled due to poor financial investments and the multiple lawsuits that she had to fight. Added on to this was the fact that her boyfriend had to be bailed out of jail numerous times, which ate into her money. By the end, she was emotionally and financially drained. 

Curtis Sharp

Back in 1982, Curtis Sharp won big on the lottery. Scooping $5 million, which was a huge sum back then, he soon set about spending his wealth. Sharp certainly enjoyed himself and was thought to have spent $1 million each year after the win to see it all gone within five years. Much went on cars, women, houses, and gifts to family, and what started as a massive amount soon trickled away. Now a minister in Tennessee, his advice to future lottery winners is to think carefully before starting to spend. His story is certainly a cautionary one of the trouble and dangers inherent in many lottery winner horror stories. 

Billie Bob Harrell Jr

Another resident of the US who thought his prayers had been answered was Billie Bob Harrell Jr, who scooped an insane $30 million in 1997. After quitting his job at the Home Depot, he planned to retire from work and live the high life. Not wasting any time, he took his family on a Hawaiian vacation before buying houses and cars.

Unfortunately, this was about as good as it got for him. Beginning to get lots of unwanted attention from strangers after his money, he also made a poor financial investment that saw him lose a lot of his fortune before his wife left him.

Tonda Lynn Dickerson

When Tonda Lynn Dickerson found out that she had won $10 million on the lottery, she was working as a Waffle House waitress. What makes this story interesting is that all the other Waffle House waitresses also thought that their luck was in due to a verbal agreement between them. The waitresses claimed that they had agreed to split the winnings between everyone. Tonda didn’t remember this agreement, however, and kept all the money for herself!

The other waitresses were furious and sued her for the money that they thought she owed them. Though she won all the cases against her, the stress left her worn out. Figuring that she needed to find a way to protect her assets going forward, she created a corporation to this effect. The only problem came when she gave a gift in shares through the corporation – the IRS hammered her for around $1 million in taxes!

Abraham Shakespeare

Winning $30 million in 2006, Abraham Shakespeare has a tale as tragic as a play from the Bard of the same surname. A decent chap by all accounts, he suffered from people leeching off his winnings and stealing away his cash. He also gave away a lot of his fortune to people who needed it most, which saw it dwindle quickly. However, his real undoing was getting mixed up with Dorice “Dee Dee” Moore.

Moore approached him on the pretense of being interested in helping him write a book on the dangers that lottery winners face. Agreeing to the proposal, she gradually took over all his property and money as his de facto financial advisor. After a heated argument one time, Moore shot and killed Shakespeare.

Lottery victory is still a dream for many

Of course, the above tales are rare, and for many lottery winners it really is a dream come true. As long as you are prepared for what follows and how to handle it, then you should be fine. Be careful about who you trust, who you tell about your win, and your level of spending. With a sensible approach, you should live a happy life with your new fortune and avoid becoming one of the horror stories in the news.


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