The word lottery is derived from the Latin root Lotteria, meaning lot, portion or share. For all practical purposes, the term applies to a contest involving distribution or selling of tokens, which have been either predetermined or selected randomly. It is a scheme of generating funds against the promise of a handsome share of the prize money for the winner. It is more or less a gamble, viewed differently in different cultures. Whereas some societies discourage it, others support it, even with governmental involvement. Up until the beginning of the twentieth century almost all forms of gambling, including lotteries, were illegal in the U.S.A., Europe and many other countries. It was in the 1960s that casinos and lotteries flourished globally and were considered genuine means of fundraising.
1. Andrew Jackson Whittaker
Andrew Jackson Whittaker, better known as Andrew Jack Whittaker, was born in 1947, in Jumping Branch, Summers County, West Virginia, U.S. He was president of a contracting firm in Putnam County. He was a prosperous person, with a net worth of US$17. At the age of 55 years, while he stopped for breakfast at a supermarket in Hurricane, West Virginia, he bought a PowerBall ticket. The jackpot was US$314.9 million regular payment annuity or US$170 cash. He opted for cash and was lucky to win. He received a check for US$114 million after tax deductions. It was the largest jackpot won by an individual in those days. He purchased a house worth $123,000 for the counter woman where he purchased the ticket and also gifted her a Dodge Ram truck and gave her $50,000 cash. He donated 10 percent of the prize money to Christian charities and founded Jack Whitaker Foundation with a donation of $14 million. The foundation is a nonprofit organization and provides food and clothing to the less privileged people of rural West Virginia.
2. Gloria C. Mackenzie
Gloria C. Mackenzie, who is 84 years old, bought a lottery ticket from another man in line in exchange for allowing her to move ahead of him. She presented her winning ticket at the lottery center, accompanied by her son, Scott Mackenzie, a financial adviser and a lawyer. She claimed $590 million PowerBall bonanza, which was the largest multi-state jackpot. Instead of appearing in person for a press conference she issued the statement, ‘We bought the winning ticket … While in line at Publix another lottery player was kind enough to let me go ahead of them in line to purchase the winning Quick Pick ticket. We are grateful for this blessing of winning the Florida jackpot … We hope that everyone will give us an opportunity to maintain our privacy for our family’s benefit.’
3. Holly Lahti
Holly Lahti, a 25-year-old mother of two children with an estranged husband, won $190 million on a Mega Millions jackpot in January 2011. Soon after her winning, she quit her job, disconnected her phones, and made no public appearance or a statement. A manager of the company where she had worked commented, “She is an avid dog lover and adopted a wonderful lab mix that is now one of the loves of her life … Her goal has been to get settled down before her girls’ high school years. She has a good head on her shoulders and has gotten things lined up in her life.’ Having come to know of her win, her husband Josh told the Associated Press, ‘That’s awesome … I won’t have to pay child support!’
4. Louis White
Eighty-one-year-old Louis White lived with her son Le Roy and his wife Deborah. On February11, 2012, while buying rainbow sherbet at a Stop & Shop supermarket in Newport, Rhode Island, she bought a lottery ticket and kept it in a Bible for safety. On February 12, 2012 she won $336.4 million, the sixth largest jackpot in the U.S. history. In remembrance of the lucky moment of buying rainbow sherbet, she founded the Rainbow Sherbet Trust. In a press conference she said, ‘I want to say that I’m very happy and I’m very proud, and this will make my family very happy’.
5. Michael Carroll
Michael Carroll was born on March 29, 1983. He had a very disturbed childhood, as his father was convicted of a murder and died while he was only seven years old. His parents were separated at an early age. He was himself imprisoned many times for different offenses. In November, 2002, at the age of 19 years, he won US$15.4m on the National Lottery. He indicated that he would not be a spendthrift and would not repeat the offenses he committed in the past. However, contrary to what he stated, he spent almost all his winnings on cocaine, gambling, prostitution, expensive cars and gold. He was ultimately declared bankrupt.
6. William Post III
William Post III, nicknamed Bud, was born in 1940 and died on January 15, 2006. He was living on odd jobs. In 1988, he bought a Pennsylvania Lottery ticket and won $16.2 million. His bank balance at the time of winning was $2.46. Soon after his winning, his brother tried to get him murdered in order to get William’s wealth in inheritance. Although he survived the murder attempt, he could not resist his lust and greed. On account of his criminal nature and unwise spending, he went broke. He was heavily in debt during his later years.
7. Jeffrey Dampier Jr.
Jeffrey Dampier Jr., son of Jeffrey Dampier Sr., was born in Chicago. In 1996 he, along with his wife, won US $20 million in the Illinois Lottery jackpot. With his winnings he opened Kassie’s Gormet Popcorn. He also spent money in buying gifts for his family and friends, including his sister-in-law, Victoria Jackson whose boyfriend Nathanial Jackson played the pivotal role in the murder of Jeffery. Nathanial Jackson, after tying the hands and feet of Jeffery, loaded him onto a van and asked Victoria to shoot Jeffery, failing which he threatened to shoot her. Victoria shot Jeffery in the back of head and was found guilty of first degree murder. She was awarded three life sentences.
8. Ihsan Khan
Ihsan Khan belongs to Ajmera, a poor village in district Batgram of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. At the age of 19 years, he left for the U.S. and earned his Master’s degree in political science from Northern Illinois University. He did odd jobs for 20 years. He holds dual nationality of Pakistan and America. He won $55.2 million PowerBall jackpot in the D.C. Lottery. He invested his winnings in buying two luxurious houses, one in Virginia and the other in Islamabad. After winning the lottery, he became a politician in his home province.
9. Abraham Lee Shakespeare
Abraham Lee Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1966 and died on April 7, 2009. He had a disturbed childhood, was an illiterate and had been jailed for different offenses. He was an ordinary laborer. On November 15, 2006, he bought a Florida Lotto Lottery ticket at Frostproof, a convenience store in Florida, and won the $30 million lottery jackpot, of which he received $17 million after tax deductions. In 2009 he was reported missing and later on found dead, buried in the backyard of an acquaintance. Winning the lottery was perhaps the unluckiest event in his life, as he was murdered by a co-worker, Michael Ford, who demanded half of his winnings. American E-television programs Curse of the Lottery and Lottery Changed my Life reflected the troubles he faced after winning the lottery.
10. The Lavigueur family
The Lavigueur family, comprised of Jean-Guy Lavigueur, his children Sylvie, Yve, Louise and Michel, and his brother in law Jean-Marie Daudelin, who helped Jean-Guy Lavigueur in raising the children, after the death of their mother Micheline Daudelin. The family lived in the impoverished Ville-Marie, a suburban village of Montreal, Quebec in the country of Canada. In 1980, the family won the highest Loto-Quebec lottery jackpot of $7,650,267. Just a few days before the draw, the ticket was lost and found by an unemployed British Columbian, William Murphy, who, knowing that the wallet contained the jackpot winner ticket, returned it to The Lavigueur family. For quite a long period after winning the lottery, the family remained the focus of the media.
Lotteries raise the lucky people from rags to riches, suddenly and effortlessly, and this is where the danger lies. Most such lucky people end up with an unlucky outcome, simply because of the proverbial ‘easy come, easy go’ phenomenon. With a few exceptions, most lottery winners become spendthrifts and get involved in an exaggerated life style of pomp and show that culminates, very often, into a sad ending. Gambling and lotteries are a matter of once in a blue moon, but many winners find it irresistible to try again and again, and are ultimately trapped in a fatal quagmire of lust and greed.