|Winning the Lottery—Was It Worth It?|
|Written by Rachel Whitaker, Associate Editor|
In my editorial on May 5 I wrote about Jack Whittaker (no relation to me!), who won $314 million in the Powerball lottery back in 2002. Jack’s story is one of the most startling tales I’ve ever heard about how having lots of easy cash can actually be a ticket to misery, not happiness.
But don’t take my word for it. Listen to the people involved in the situation, after they’d seen the effects that the lottery winnings had on their lives.
Jack himself: “At first, I didn’t think anything would change, but everything has changed.” (By the time he said this, Jack had hired three people to open the thousands of letters he got from people begging for money. Some people even showed up on his doorstep looking for handouts and threatened his family when he didn’t give them anything. Jack ended up having many personal problems: he was arrested for drunk driving, sued for supposedly harassing women, and robbed twice.)
Jack’s wife, Jewell: "I wish I would have torn the ticket up." (She said this after the disappearance of their teenage granddaughter, Brandi, who was later found dead of an overdose from drugs that her grandfather’s cash had enabled her to buy.)
Brandi’s friend Josh, who got hundreds of dollars a day from Brandi: "I turned into a different person. I had so much money, it turned me cold-hearted. . . . It's fun, but it's also dumb. It's just a dream. You are not going to have it forever. You don't have to work. Usually, you are going to do something stupid." Josh eventually quit hanging around with Brandi and got a job to earn his own money.
Jimmy Tribble, whose teenage son, Jessie, died of a drug overdose in Jack’s house after using drugs he probably got from Brandi: “When you have all the money you want and you can . . . do what you want to do, you know, suddenly you lose your ‘right and wrong’ thinking pattern.”
Brenda Higginbotham, a server at the convenience store where Jack bought the winning lottery ticket, who got a house, a Jeep, and a check for $44,000 from Jack: "I probably would have rejected the money in the first place if I'd known then what I know now. It seems like money brings out the ugly in people."
(All quotes are from “Rich Man, Poor Man,” www.washingtonpost.com.)