Chang and Carlin, LLP Analysis of Winners of Powerball Millions: Are Problems with Money Really Gone for Good?

The recent winners of Powerball millions have realized the dream of many Americans, but the question remains: Are problems with money really a thing of the past for lottery winners?

David Chang of Chang and Carlin, LLP isn’t convinced. “Many people who play the lottery dream of vanquishing their problems with money,” the attorney asserts. “However, bankruptcy can still strike Powerball and lottery winners who are not prepared to handle their new-found wealth.”

Recent Winners Of Powerball And Lottery Millions Still Experience Problems With Money:

After the rush and elation of winning, there are typically new responsibilities and financial considerations that winners have never experienced and are often not prepared for.

The New York Post and Time Magazine highlight a few of the more extreme recent cases:

-Jack Whittaker: Whittaker is the West Virginia contractor who scored a $315 million Powerball win in December 2002. However, Whittaker lost a daughter and granddaughter to overdoses and by January 2007, his bank accounts were empty. He attributes these misfortunes to his Powerball win.

-Evelyn Basehore: The former convenience store manager miraculously won the lottery twice in the mid-1980’s, first winning $3.9 million in October 1985 and then, another $1.4 million four months later. Unfortunately her taste for gambling led her to lose it all and she told the Post, “My advice to anyone [who wins] would be to go to your lawyer and accountant first.”

-Billie Bob Harrell, Jr.: This Texas Home Depot employee thought his problems with money were over when he won the $31 million Texas Lotto jackpot in June of 1997. However, twenty months later, after a series of major financial misfortunes, Harrell was broke and tragically committed suicide in May of 1999.

-Curtis Sharp: Mr. Sharp won 5 Million in 1982, but was broke before long due to a lavish lifestyle. “Get yourself a lawyer before a Cadillac,” Sharp advised during an interview after moving to Tennessee and launching a second life as a preacher years later.

Lottery Winners And Bankruptcy:

Moreover, a 2009 study indicates that winning money does not mean you will be able to manage or hang on to it for very long. In their research paper, “The Ticket to Easy Street? The Financial Consequences of Winning the Lottery”, a group of economists study people who won more than $600 from the Florida Lottery between 1993 and 2002.

The results were not encouraging, according to ABC News, “Although they found recipients of $50,000 to $150,000 were 50 percent less likely to file for bankruptcy in the two years after winning relative to small winners, “they are equally more likely to file three to five years afterward.”

Strangely, the researchers note that the average winner of a large cash prize could have paid off all of their unsecured debt or increased equity in new or existing assets, but they chose not to do either.

The overarching theme is that problems with money don’t necessarily disappear for winners of Powerball and lottery millions. The tragic examples in the above case studies and research indicate that financial and legal help may be just the ticket for future big winners.

About Chang and Carlin, LLP:
The attorneys at Chang and Carlin, LLP provide Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings, real estate services, and IRS tax help. For any bankruptcy and real estate legal needs, Chang and Carlin, LLP provide the necessary legal experience and personal service that clients deserve.

Contact :
David Chang
Chang and Carlin, LLP

Leah Adams
PME 360