Top 10 Dumbest Lottery Winners
Sometimes in life, you may make a decision or take an action that others may question. This may lead you to question your own motives and rethink how wise your actions were. Other times, it becomes clear that others are simply being ridiculous and that you have nothing to worry about. Sadly, in the lottery world, some players should not merely worry if their actions were wise—they should worry if they were not downright stupid. In this article, we will look at 10 of the stupidest lottery winners and see how they managed to make people all around them shake their heads and roll their eyes.
#1: Christina Goodenow
In 2005, Christina Goodenow was out making purchases when she decided to grab a ticket for the Million Dollar Jackpot lottery hosted by the Oregon Lottery. The lucky ticket soon turned out to be the winning ticket, and Christina was delighted to find that she had won $1 million. She came forward and chose to receive her winnings in the form of annuity payments—receiving her first payment of $33,500 shortly afterwards.
However, things soon fell apart when an investigation went into her purchase of the lottery ticket as well as many other items. As it turns out, Christina was using the credit card of her mother-in-law, who had passed away the year before. Considering this is highly illegal, Christina lost her winnings and was charged with multiple felonies, including fraud, theft, and forgery.
#2: Denise Rossi
Denise Rossi was a regular player of the California SuperLotto and was happily married to her husband Thomas—or so he thought. In 1996, Denise suddenly filed for divorce from Thomas while refusing to give any reason behind her actions. Thomas, though hurt and confused, granted the divorce and carried on with his life, until two years later when he received mail meant for Denise. The letter mentioned her $1.3 million win that took place just 11 days before she filed for divorce.
Thomas immediately went to court and laid a case against his ex-wife. Denise, who claimed that she did not know that she had to disclose the winnings to anyone, was soon found guilty of violating state asset disclosure laws. The punishment she received for her deception was very fitting: she had to surrender every last cent of her winnings to her ex-husband.
#3: Justin Reiter
Some people watch movies for the storyline and for the enjoyment of escaping reality for the duration of the film. Others, however, watch movies and see things that they immediately want to emulate in their own lives. Such is the case of Justin Reiter, a young man living in Alberta, Canada. Justin, who was obsessed with the Austin Powers movie Goldmember, wanted nothing more than to be able to coat his nether regions in gold—just like in the film.
Sadly, Justin managed to afford to do this after winning $600,000 on the lottery. Using his winnings, Justin purchased some lead-based paid and a paintbrush and quickly achieved his dream of having some shiny body parts. However, something did not feel right, so Justin soon got his hands on some gold-infused paint and used that to coat over the original paint. Shortly after this, Justin passed away tragically. The cause of death was announced as lead poisoning from the lead-based paint he had first attempted to paint his family jewels with.
#4: Amanda Clayton
Back in 2011, Amanda Clayton was rather down and out in terms of luck. Since 2010, she had been surviving on state welfare and food stamps. However, her luck changed drastically when she won $1 million from the Make Me Rich game hosted by the Michigan Lottery. This $1 million could easily have been a life-changer for Amanda that would have set her up in an excellent financial position for years to come.
Sadly, in July of 2020, a local news outlet caught on to something—that despite being a millionaire, Amanda was still claiming her state benefits and food stamps. It was not long after the story broke that Amanda found herself in deep water in the courts. She was eventually sentenced to nine months’ probation and a fine. Sadly, one year later, Amanda was found dead at 25 from a drug overdose.
#5: Michael Carroll
Michael Carroll was a lottery winner that easily could have stood out as a beacon of hope to others. Michael, who was diagnosed with multiple learning disabilities at a young age, had a tough time growing up after his dad was sentenced to prison and ultimately died. After being continually abused by his step-fathers, Michael needed an escape. Fortunately, one arrived in the form of a £9.7 million UK Lotto win.
Even though he could have used the money to turn his life around, Michael—who was just 19 years old at the time—decided to live the high life instead. He spent millions on fancy houses, sports cars, and other items. These purchases were nothing, however, to the amount he spent on drugs, alcohol, and prostitutes. Just ten years after his massive win, Michael was left with no friends or family and not a cent to his name.
#6: John Ross, Jr.
John Ross Jr. was your average man living in Linda, California who was, unfortunately, stuck going nowhere. At 29 years of age, John was still living at home, did not have a job, and did not even have a driver’s license. What he did have was luck—which led him to win $2 million from California Lottery’s Set for Life Lottery. The winnings would be paid out in increments of $70,000 (after tax) for 20 years and would allow John to better his life and buy himself a car—something he said he had dreamed of for a long time.
John spoke openly of how he wanted the money to help those around him and how he wanted to use it to change his circumstances and the situation he was living in. Just a few months later, however, John was forced to use his lottery winnings to bail himself out of prison after being arrested for attempting to steal—out of all things—a car.
#7: Jose Antonio Cua-Toc
Jose Antonio Cua-Toc is a Guatemalan native who illegally snuck into the United States way back in 2000. Trying to make ends meet, Jose worked hard for businessman Erick Cervantes. Jose also regularly played the lottery—which paid off when he won $750,000 from the Georgia Jingle Jumbo Bucks lottery in 2010. Being undocumented, however, Jose was unable to claim the winnings and gave the ticket to Erick to claim on his behalf.
Erick, who could not pass up the opportunity, kept the money thinking that he could pull one over on Jose. Jose, however, was insistent on getting his winnings and filed a lawsuit against Erick—eventually winning and being awarded his winnings, legal fees, and punitive damages. One thing that Jose did not think of, however, was that he was admitting to being undocumented. After being arrested on a DUI and making terrorist threats against Erick, Jose was detained and awaited a verdict on deportation. There is no news as to if his deportation ever occurred.
#8: Americo Lopes
When becoming part of a lottery pool, it is understood that you will need to share your winnings with the others in the pool. This, however, was clearly not apparent to Americo Lopes. In 2009, Americo and five of his co-workers pooled money together to purchase some Mega Millions tickets, as they always did. Amazingly, the group of six managed to win a $38.5 million prize. The problem was that Americo decided he did not want to share the money and so kept it a secret.
He soon quit his job and laid low for a couple of months but later slipped up by telling one of his former co-workers—of all people—that he had won the lottery shortly after he quit his job and left the lottery pool. The co-worker, suspicious of the win, went and checked the results and saw that he actually won while still playing in the pool. The matter ended in court, and Americo was ordered to split the winnings with the other members of the original lottery pool.
#9: Elecia Battle
Elecia Battle was no stranger to causing trouble. Having had multiple encounters with the law for keying cars, credit card fraud, and assault, she was pretty down and out on her luck. In 2003, however, her luck changed when she won $162 million on a winning Mega Millions ticket—or so everybody thought. Elecia, who had purchased a losing ticket from the store that the winning ticket was actually sold by, waited a few days after the winning numbers were released to see if any winners would come forward. When none did, she quickly went public with the fact that she was the winner but had lost her ticket.
Feeling sorry for her, countless people tried to help her find her ticket while she opened a police report for it. What she did not know was that the holders of the winning ticket were simply gaining advice before coming forward. They did eventually come forward and claim their prize—exposing Elecia’s lie and causing her to be charged yet again for submitting a false police report.
Though unrelated, something similar happened in the UK when Susanne Hinte tried to claim a £33 million prize with a damaged lottery ticket—and was permanently dubbed a liar by the media despite thinking she genuinely had won.
#10: William ‘Bud’ Post
William ‘Bud’ Post was unfortunate to lose his mother at a young age and have his father abandon him shortly after. In 1998, he was left with less than $3 in his bank account and wondering where he would go next. It was then that he purchased the winning ticket for an upcoming Pennsylvania Lottery draw. William won a staggering $16.2 million and instantly had his life heading in a new direction.
Things quickly went wrong, however. His then-girlfriend sued him for one-third of his winnings (which she was awarded), his brother hired a hitman to kill him, and he shot a gun at a debt collector—leading to charges being filed. However, the thing that gains William his spot on this list is his reckless spending, which included purchasing an aeroplane that he could not fly. William ended up with $1 million debt and died just eight years after his win.
Lottery winners are not necessarily only stupid in how they spend their winnings. As proven by some of the stories above, some winners simply do not think either before or after their big win. Thankfully, we can look at these stories as lessons on what not to do if we are ever lucky to win big on any popular lotteries.