Saturday, November 26, 2005

Lottery winner tragedies continue

The body of Virginia Metcalf Merida, winner with her husband of a $65.4 million Powerball jackpot with her husband in 2000, was found dead in her 5,000 sf geodesic dome in Newport, Kentucky. She had apparently been dead for days before her son found her body Wednesday. She and her husband, Mack Wayne Metcalf, split up when they won the jackpot, and he died in 2003 at age 45 without "starting fresh" in Australia as he had planned. (Instead, he moved into a replica of George Washington's Mt. Vernon home in Kentucky.)

Jack Whittaker, the West Virginia millionaire who won the largest lottery jackpot in U.S. history in 2002 ($314.9 million, Powerball), had his granddaughter die of a drug overdose in his home, was robbed of $545,000 cash while unconscious in a strip club, had his home and office robbed, was arrested twice for drunk driving and once for assault, and was accused of groping women at a racetrack. has a lengthy list of lottery winner troubles here.

UPDATE (September 15, 2007): The Arizona Republic has an update on Jack Whittaker--his wife has left him, he's been involved in 460 legal actions since his win, he has no friends, everyone is always asking him for money (or trying to steal from him, often successfully), and he says he's going to be remembered as "the lunatic who won the lottery" rather than, as he desires, "someone who helped a lot of people."


mathyoo said...

I suspect that in each and every one of those cases, you'd find that those people had some pretty serious issues BEFORE winning the lottery. Money would just magnify their problems. The "average" person, as long as they kept their head about them, would probably be fine, although money does some pretty strange things to people. I like Rotten's list of tips, although I'm not sure how easy it would be to keep from telling your spouse or immediate family.

Lippard said...

I'm inclined to buy your hypothesis--the list shows that to be true of many of the individuals on that list.

What would be interesting to see would be an actual study of lottery winners designed to answer the question--does a large influx of money tend to have more positive or negative effects on things like health, lifespan, and tendency to be arrested?

Einzige said...

It's probably safe to say that the average purchaser of lottery tickets is not someone who has a handle on money management. It's also probably not a stretch to say that a person willing to throw money down a rathole is also likely to make, um, less-than-smart choices in other areas of life.

On the other hand, it may be going a little far to say that lottery winnings are to a lottery player like a flamethrower and unlimited kerosene are to a pyromaniac.

ciscoblog said...
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