The myth of the miserable lottery winner is a long-standing story. It exposes deep-rooted cultural beliefs about wealth. And it persists despite the public’s discomfort with gambling. But while there are some unfortunate lottery winners, most don’t end up broke.
While there’s no one answer to why lottery winners end up broke, there are some common reasons for their misfortune. These include excessive spending, gambling, and legal entanglements.
Evelyn Basehore spent most of her winnings gambling. She blew through her money in less than four years, despite the fact that she won $3.9 million in 1985. In 2000, she moved to a trailer park in Brick, New Jersey.
Chery Brudenell used her winnings to travel the world, seeing Robbie Williams on 40 occasions over two decades. He also purchased several luxury cars. Ultimately, she had to close her restaurant within a few years.
Alex Toth, meanwhile, was charged with tax fraud by the IRS and checked into a mental institution. His winnings were paid out in installments of $666,666. However, by 2008, he was broke.
Jack Whittaker’s tale is a cautionary tale about the power of the lottery to ruin lives. His outsized personality made him a target. He gave away much of his winnings to strangers.
Another example of a lottery winner who ended up unlucky was Urooj Khan. Despite winning $1 million in 2012, he died suddenly. Initially he was attributed to natural causes. As of 2021, his case is still unsolved.