The official news site of J.W. North High School

The North Star Online

The official news site of J.W. North High School

The North Star Online

The official news site of J.W. North High School

The North Star Online

The Lottery Curse

Tony Webster
A billboard for the Powerball and Mega Millions lottery game prizes in Missouri.


Doesn’t everyone dream of winning the lottery?

It’s definitely a thrilling prospect- the $2 ticket bought on a whim at the gas station turns into a million dollars overnight. This October, a California resident won an absurd 1.76 billion dollars from the Powerball jackpot- “the second largest [lottery prize] in history”, according to USA Today. Headlines like these only further the appeal of the lottery, bolstering the hopes of many that they too can strike it rich, despite the absolutely abysmal chances. The tiniest, slimmest possibility of getting lucky motivates many to buy lottery tickets- very many, as Americans spent 107.92 billion dollars on lottery tickets in 2022 (Statista)- making it the most popular form of gambling in the US. 

 While many might consider winning the lottery a dream come true (after all, gaining such huge sums of money overnight is life-changing), unfortunately, life for some lottery winners has not been all sunshine and rainbows. From losing all their friends and family to being sued to kidnapped to murdered, some of history’s lottery winners have faced some pretty grim fates after their wins.

For starters, many may face some strained relationships after their friends and family members turn on them. After winning about $16 million in a 1988 lottery, William Post’s own brother allegedly hired a hitman to kill him, after a lawsuit already forced him to give away a third of his winnings to his ex-girlfriend. After 3 months, he was $500k in debt. (TIME)

Since only some states allow lottery winners to remain anonymous, lottery winners are often bombarded by the press and media, as well as people asking for money. Distant relatives and old partners may suddenly spawn out of the woodworks. Upon winning the $17 million jackpot in 2006, Abraham Shakespeare was approached by family members, friends, and others asking him for help, and his winnings were quickly given away. He was found with two gunshot wounds and buried in the backyard of a woman’s home, who had befriended Shakespeare on the pretense of writing a book about him. 

Somewhat similarly, in 1999, $10 million winner Tonda Dickerson was tipped the winning lottery ticket, then proceeded to get sued by all of her coworkers and the man who tipped her the ticket. She was then kidnapped by her ex-husband, who she then shot. (Medium)

Some may immediately squander away their winnings on drugs, luxury cars, jewelry, and parties, leaving them destitute. Such was the case of Gerald Muswagon, who on winning $10 million in 1998, spent extravagantly on drugs, parties, TVs, and new cars. He “spent nearly every penny of his winnings in only a few years”, according to The Globe and Mail. When his startup failed, it left him being forced to work at a heavy-lifting job to make ends meet, and in 2005, he hung himself. 

While winning the lottery may seem like hitting the jackpot, it can also bring a lot of misfortune. 

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Sharon Ma, News Editor

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