Dumbest Lottery Winners

A lot of lottery winners are stupid. Let's take a look at lottery winners who won huge jackpots and then went bankrupt making terribly bad and dumb decisions.


It’s no surprise that giving millions of dollars to someone with minimal common sense doesn’t tend to work out too well. But that’s exactly what can happen every now and then, thanks to a little thing called the lottery. If you’re ready to learn about the myriad ways you can blow through millions fast, let’s take a look at the worst lottery winners who lost it all.

Evelyn Adams

There are many reasonable ways to use your money if you win the lottery, but gambling it all away is definitely not one of them. Evelyn Adams was a clerk at a convenience store who won the lottery not once, but twice in 1985 and 1986, winning a combined total of $5.4 million.

Both wins occurred in the span of just four months after she began spending $100 on the lottery every week.

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But don’t be swayed into thinking doing something like that substantially increases your chances of winning; the odds were still astronomically against her. She just got extremely lucky. Evelyn’s big wins paid out $218,000 a year rather than all at once, but this inability to blow it all in one go wouldn’t stop her from making some colossal mistakes.

After giving a lot of her winnings away to family and friends, and losing huge amounts on failed business deals, she decided it was time to hit the tables.

She became a regular at Atlantic City’s finest casinos and was someone the owners were overjoyed to welcome in. Not because of her personality, but because she was unlucky enough to lose every dime of her lottery winnings on the tables; lining the casino owners’ pockets in the process. As they say in Vegas: the house always wins.

Dumbest Lottery Winners casino gambling

Janite Lee

At 52 years old, Janite Lee’s life underwent an enormous, unexpected change when she won a whopping $18 million in 1993. She quit her job at a wig shop, moved her family into a million-dollar house in St. Louis, and began donating a ton of money to charity. She became a big political donor, earning her tableside seating with Bill Clinton at donor shindigs.

Janite Lee with Bill Clinton

But despite her humble beginnings as a South Korean immigrant, she developed a taste for luxury that exceeded the $620,000 in winnings she was receiving yearly. She leased cars and borrowed millions from banks to keep her lifestyle going and to hide the truth of her financial instability from the public.

Just eight years after winning the lottery, she filed for bankruptcy, with $2.5 million in debt. The lesson? If your taste is so classy that $18 million won’t cover it, you may have a problem.

Denise Rossi

In 1996, Denise Rossi won the California Lottery. Instead of telling her husband like she probably should’ve, she kept it secret and attempted to get a divorce with an expedited settlement.

Denise Rossi and Thomas Rossi lottery

Unfortunately for Denise, her husband found out about her win, and the court ruled that she’d failed to comply with asset disclosure laws. She hadn’t even disclosed her winnings to her own attorney, who could’ve helped her hold on to the cash had he been made aware during the divorce proceedings. By default, as per the law, her husband received the entire undisclosed $1.3 million prize.

Americo Lopes

In 2009, a lottery pool made up of co-workers at a New Jersey construction company sent one group member, Americo Lopes, to buy their weekly ticket. To Americo’s astonishment, when he did, he found the group’s luck had come in big time.

But, for some reason, he decided that $38.5 million just wasn’t enough to be comfortably split five ways, so he claimed he’d bought the winning numbers all on his own. When his 5 co-workers took him to court, the jury ruled that he’d have to pay each of them a $2 million settlement.

Americo Lopes Lottery winner

The stupidity wasn’t that Americo tried to selfishly cash in. After all, it worked, he still walked away with $14 million after taxes. The real stupidity was that he thought his ridiculous lie would fool anyone. But being believed might not matter all that much when you’re sitting on $14 million.

Bud Post

In 1998, Bud Post pawned a ring for $40. The lottery tickets he bought with the cash turned out to be the best investment he’d ever make, since he won $16.2 million. But things started going south when Bud’s on-and-off girlfriend took a third of the winnings, claiming in court she was the one who’d bought the tickets for him.

Bud’s brother was also out for his money and hired a hitman to try and kill him, which, luckily for Bud, failed. Christmas dinner must’ve been awkward that year.

Bud's estrange brother tried to assassinate him

Following this brush with death, Bud splurged on houses, cars, an airplane, and a boat. These purchases began to dwindle his funds, which was made worse by constant legal fees resulting from one of Bud’s unfortunate habits, which is blasting his shotgun in the direction of people who came by his house to collect their debts.

On top of that, the alimony costs of 6 separate divorces eventually led to Bud spending his elder years on food stamps, with over $1 million in debt.

Dumbest Lottery Winners

Alex Toth

When Alex Toth purchased the lottery ticket that would win him $13 million, he had a grand total of $25 to his name. He also had a wife, Rhoda, and six kids from previous relationships, so that $25 would’ve really needed to stretch.

But when the big win came, Alex and Rhoda decided to spend three months living in a thousand-dollar-a-night hotel room in Las Vegas. They gambled, shopped and dined constantly, and visited non-stop live shows, living the dream.

Dumbest Lottery Winners

But eventually, they grew tired of Vegas life. They bought a large trailer home in Florida and settled down. But drama soon came a-knockin’. In true trailer-park fashion, Rhoda accused her son of killing their dog and setting their car on fire after they withdrew his allowance.

Dumbest Lottery Winners

Not long after that, the Toths filed for bankruptcy in the aftermath of their Vegas adventure. To top it all off, they were convicted of tax fraud for falsifying gambling losses to avoid paying some of their lottery winnings to the government.

In the years that followed, the downward spiral continued, and Alex was arrested multiple times for drug dealing and writing bad cheques. Eventually, their fortune was so diminished that the Toths had to move in with Rhoda’s son; the same one she’d previously accused of trying to kill her dog.

After a short while in that less-than-ideal living situation, Alex Toth died, without even that original $25 to his name.

Dumbest Lottery Winners

Amanda Clayton

Amanda Clayton won $1 million in the lottery in 2011, which might seem humble compared to other lottery winners. But for a single mom without a job, living on welfare, $1 million can go a very long way.

Amanda Clayton lottery winner

That being said, people who win a million dollars don’t usually have much reason to continue claiming welfare. Amanda saw things differently though, and continued to collect $200 every month in the form of government food assistance checks.

When a reporter asked her about this, she doubled down, claiming that as she was still unemployed, there was really no reason she shouldn’t receive welfare.

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Unsurprisingly, the local families who really did need welfare didn’t share her viewpoint, and public outrage ensued. In the aftermath, Amanda was arrested and charged with welfare fraud, and just a year after winning, died of a drug overdose. I guess it goes to show: recklessness and greed are a dangerous mix.

David Lee Edwards

If you’re going to win the lottery, it makes sense to spend some of your winnings on your interests. But if David Lee Edwards is anything to go by, pursuing your interest in Medieval weapons may be a bad omen of things to come.

In 2001, the Kentuckian, who’d spent a third of his life in jail, won a 27-million-dollar power ball. But David’s first mistake was choosing to take his winnings in one lump sum. This always means a lower total, and more opportunities for disastrous spending choices.

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David bought two homes right off the bat, one for $1.6 million and another for $600,000. But he didn’t stop there. Far from it. He bought a Lamborghini Diablo, a Dodge Viper, a private jet, and a $35,000 Hummer golf cart.

Save for the golf cart, those are all fairly normal rich people flexes. But as mentioned previously, David was also into medieval weaponry, and spent lavishly on a collection of around 200 antique swords and armor sets.

But no amount of antique, sharpened steel could save David from his other relentless appetite: drugs, which drained his bank as well as his health. Just five years after buying his winning ticket, he was broke, living in a storage unit.

Dumbest Lottery Winners

Soon after that, he died, leaving nothing behind for his daughter, whom he’d promised to provide a great life for. So if you win big, and want to do your family proud, avoid swords, shields, and syringes.

Martyn Tott

Englishman Martyn Tott bought a lotto ticket in 2000, but totally forgot about it until months later, when he tuned into the TV lottery. The lottery runners were appealing to the winning ticket holder from weeks prior to come forward. Martyn realized the winning numbers were the ones he’d bought, but he couldn’t find the ticket anywhere!

Lottery Winner missing ticket

Despite correctly remembering the store, date, and exact time he’d bought the ticket, the piece of paper itself was nowhere to be found. When he got hold of the lottery company, he learned the true meaning of devastation. Since he’d failed to file a lost ticket claim within 30 days of his purchase, he'd got nothing.

To top it all off, the stress of the ensuing years of unsuccessful legal battles attempting to claim the money cost him his marriage. It’s safe to say, Martyn Tott probably felt pretty dumb for not keeping that ticket safe.

Michael Carroll

Aged only 19, English garbage man Michael Carroll won $15.8 million in 2002, and soon traded the trash truck for an array of other expensive cars. All of which he parked up in his newly-acquired mansion.

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But Michael had a bit of an unfortunate taste for destruction and aggression. He was known for throwing rocks at strangers as a teenager, as well as all sorts of other mayhem. He channeled this energy into the destruction derby site he built in his mansion’s backyard, and soon he’d smashed up countless expensive cars, as well as the mansion itself.

Dumbest Lottery Winners Michael Carroll destruction derby

He also began consuming $3,000 worth of a certain illegal powder daily, and his mischievous, drug-fueled escapades led to local police setting up a hotline specifically for neighbors with Michael-Carroll-related complaints. As the richest nuisance in England, his love of gold, drugs, escorts, and destruction soon saw him totally broke, and he returned to the garbage man's life. But he certainly had a good time while it lasted.

Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr.

He may share half a name with a former president, but that’s about as far as anything resembling presidential wisdom went for Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. The West Virginian won an unbelievable $314 million in 2002.

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However, he had the odd habit of keeping massive chunks of it in cash form. Because of this, the $545,000 that he kept in his car was stolen in a single break-in. More lumps of cash were taken in similar circumstances, but the biggest losses of all revolved around a very familiar type of place: casinos.

Andrew had a serious gambling problem, and his big-bet losses became so bad that he was sued by a casino for bouncing $1.5 million in checks.

Dumbest Lottery Winners Andrew "Jack" Whittaker

With endless, costly legal battles with other people he owed money to, as well as near-constant charitable donations he could no longer afford, his enormous fortune soon dwindled away. The full $314 million was gone in just four years.

Callie Rogers

It’s pretty hard to be mentally prepared for a lottery win, especially when you’re only 16. But after winning $3 million in 2003, 16-year-old Callie Rogers insisted she’d spend it wisely. Over the following years, however, she bought four houses and a bunch of cars, and had multiple, expensive boob-jobs and other cosmetic surgeries.

She also got into the habit of buying gifts, in the form of cars, for whoever her boyfriend was at the time.

Callie Rogers lottery

Like other lottery winners with a lack of guidance, she developed an unfortunate habit of a white-powdered variety, which proved both expensive and unconducive to logical decision-making. Now, she’s burnt through enough of her winnings that she has to work as a cleaner to provide for her kids.

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That said, she claims that, now, for the first time, she feels like she has everything she needs. That may be true, but I’m sure having a million or so still laying around wouldn’t go amiss.

I hope you were amazed at these dumbest lottery winners who blew away their fortunes with bad investments. Thanks for reading!

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