January 23, 2022
Unlucky winners

Seven jackpot losers that taught us how NOT to spend our jackpot winnings

Seven jackpot losers that taught us how NOT to spend our jackpot winnings

Everybody dreams about winning the lottery! But can you imagine losing all your winnings?


Expert financial advisors will tell you that winning a huge lump sum can be overwhelming and depressing if you are not well equipped to manage the money correctly. Many winners have lost their fortunes through lavish spending on everything from luxury handbags and shoes to cars, wild parties and new drug habits.



It’s so important to invest your winnings wisely so that they can serve you well.Take a look at these seven big winners, who (infamously) lost it all.


Billie Bob Harrell Jr.

Billie Bob was working at Home Depot, in the USA, when he won the Texas Lottery Lotto jackpot and bagged about US$31 million. He promptly quit his job and splurged on homes, church donations and gifts for friends and family. But he depleted his winnings so fast, that a few months after his winnings he was broke. Sadly, he took his own life.


Michael Carroll

The Englishman was just 19 years old (working as a waste collector) when he won the UK National Lottery in 2002 – a sum of over £9.7 million! But today, just over a decade later, Carroll is working in a cookie factory, earning minimum wage because he lost his fortunes. He spent it all on homes, jewellery, cars and parties! Plus, he had a long list of criminal offences to his name.



Evelyn Adams

Adams won the New Jersey Lottery not once, but twice in 1985 and 1986. She raked in winnings of over US$5.4 million in total. But her compulsive gambling habit (and the cash gifts she made to family and friends) emptied her bank account. By 2001, Adams’ was broke and living in a trailer.


Barry Shell

In 2009, Shell won $4 million in Canada’s Ontario lottery. He literally used his last dollars to buy the lottery ticket! But at the time, police had a warrant for arrest out on Shell; he was wanted on charges of theft and possession of stolen property. And when police saw a photo of him accepting his prize, they located him and arrested him. Shell gave his winnings to a relative, before going to jail.


Abraham Shakespeare
Shakespeare was a working-class American man when he won US$17 million in the 2006 jackpot. He befriended DeeDee Moore, who pretended to have an interest in Shakespeare’s wellbeing. She told him she would help him protect his winnings since friends and family had lined up for handouts. She convinced Shakespeare to transfer the money to her account, before killing him.

Related Articles on Abraham Shakespeare


Sharon Tirabassi
Tirabassi was a single mum, living off welfare checks when she won $10 million in the Ontario Lottery. She spent the money on designer clothes, wild parties, travel, handouts to family, mansions and flashy cars. It wasn’t long before she had depleted the cash, and was forced to return to part-time work and living in a rented house. At least she had the good sense to put some of the cash into a trust for her children!


Vivian Nicholson
Nicholson won £152 00 back in 1961 and declared she would “spend, spend, spend!”. She did exactly that, blowing her winnings on cars, high fashion and holidays abroad. And by the early 19702, she was broke. She ended up living on a measly pension and was looking for jobs.


You don’t have to be the winner who loses, so spectacularly! Make sure you consult a financial advisor and a lawyer if you win big so that you can manage your winnings smartly.


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