All that money and too dead or in jail to spend it
Roger Grandy of Lancaster, NY, picked the right numbers. He won millions in the state lottery and bought a house, among other things. Last Thursday, that house burned to the ground with him in it. Some of the media was immediately attributing his death to the “lottery curse”.
I had heard about that theory on several occasions. It would seem that lottery winners have a higher tendency to endure tragedy than others. More often than not, it’s the fault of the winner for being stupid. But sometimes, it’s bad luck. Here are some reasons why winning the lottery is not everything it’s cracked up to be.
Jody Lee Taylor, Virginia ($4.4 million)
OK, first of all, this poor guy’s life started out cursed thanks to his parents. They obviously took the song “A Boy Named Sue” a little too seriously. If I was named Jody, my life of crime would start by the mysterious death of whoever’s idea that was. But I digress. Jody was a career criminal before he won his lotto jackpot. So having a nice nest egg and plenty of beer money would straighten out his life, right? If you answered yes, I demand you immediately leave this site and go look up ‘naive’ in the dictionary.
Are you back? OK. So he wins the lottery and moves in to a house. His fiance, who apparently decided that the money he now had made up for the many times he was arrested for beating her, moved in with him. That didn’t last long. 3 years after winning, he shot up said house and set her car on fire. It all came to a head when he smoked a bunch of crack, drank a lot of whiskey, and proceeded to drive the wrong way down the highway. After a chase, he tried to run down a sheriff’s deputy. Oh yeah, he was also naked.
Gerald Muswagon, Winnipeg ($10 million)
Gerald, a single father of one, was just kind of schlepping through life when he won his jackpot in 1998. It seemed to be the end of all his problems, except for the fact that he is part of this post so you know something bad happened. Since his occupation as a tree planter didn’t exactly prepare him for making smart decisions with gobs of cash, he promptly blew through the whole bankroll in 7 quick years.
During that time, he did fun stuff such as leading police on a chase with speeds reaching 110 mph. He also did not fun stuff like spending 3 months in jail for sexually assaulting a woman he asked to help clean up his house after the sudden death of his wife. (Oh yeah, that happened too.) By the time it was all said and done, he was working at his friend’s farm doing menial labor to support his girlfriend and SIX KIDS. Nothing like going broke while having lots of unprotected sex. In the end, it became too much for Gerald and he hung himself in his Mother’s garage.
Oscar Cordoba, New Jersey ($8.9 million)
When Oscar immigrated to the States in the early 80’s, he had almost nothing. When he and his wife got married and had two children, he had even less. But at least he was happy, right? American dream and all? Well, he was really living the American dream when he won the lottery in 1989. At first everything was good. He was doing what you were supposed to do. He chose annual payments. Bought a house, a couple cars, and didn’t go on any crazy shopping sprees. Fast forward to 2003. Things are getting a little strained between Oscar, his wife, and his mother-in-law. How would most people handle this? Divorce? Too expensive. A romantic getaway for husband and wife to rekindle the old feelings? Too much planning. No, Oscar decided the best way was to grab a knife and go from American dream to American Psycho.
He stabbed and killed his mother-in-law, stabbed his wife almost to death, and attempted to stab his 16-year-old daughter. And his 6-year-old son got a front row ticket to the whole show, allegedly shouting “Booo” and “Hiss” because it wasn’t what it was like when Tom and Jerry did this stuff. After being arrested, he told the judge he could afford representation because he had five more lottery checks coming. Well, if he wants to enjoy any of it he’ll have to eat his fruits and vegetables. His 95th birthday will have just passed when he’s eligible for parole.
Jack Whittaker, New Jersey ($315 million)
This guy is the posterboy for how not to act after winning the lottery. He won what was, and still may be, the largest single jackpot ever. Jack was already a successful in business, amassing a net worth of $17 million before he won. You would think that would prepare him for his new windfall. Do I need to go into that naive thing again? Anyway, he went from successful businessman to crazy nut job.
A year after the win, he was at a the Pink Pony strip club and was jacked for $545,000 that he had IN HIS TRUNK. Apparently he was planning to go to Wal Mart right after Trixie finished her pole dance. Now you would think that he would have learned his lesson and maybe not carry around the GDP of a small nation on his person. Nope. Less than six month later he was ripped for $100,000 in almost the same situation. Then he was arrested for drunk driving. Then he was sued by Caesar’s Palace for bouncing a $1.5 million check to cover gambling losses. The stories like that could fill a couple pages.
You may be wondering how the rest of his family made out. Not well. One of the biggest recipients of his prize was his 17-year-old granddaughter. He had always doted on her, but now he bought her a house and four cars. Granted, those are things that every 17-year-old girl should have, but the monthly stipend check may have gone too far. First, her boyfriend was found dead of a drug overdose in Whittaker’s home. Two months later, Brenda herself decided to play the life-or-death game of drug abuse. She lost. Jack, showing his frugal ways, had her buried in a gold plated coffin. Jack continues to live, is not presently in jail, and still has some of his winnings. So why is he on this list? Because his family is dropping like flies and, despite his efforts to give to local charities, he is pretty much hated by everyone in his community.
If all that doesn’t make you think twice before buying your next lottery ticket, then I hope you have a good lawyer. These are just a few cases. If you want to see a nice little list, look at the bottom of this page.