Jack Whittaker, 2002 Powerball Lottery Winner: ‘I Wish I’d Torn That Ticket Up’

A brand new Powerball lottery winner could very well be named tonight, winning the largest pot in U.S. lottery history.

The possibility of a future Powerball lottery winner has quite a few people searching online to review the real-life experiences of past lottery winners.

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Even though there are quite a few stories with happy endings, studies have shown that the joy does not last very long for most lottery winners. For instance, New York Daily News reports that 70 percent of lottery winners end up broke in less than seven years.

Edward Ugel, author of Money for Nothing: One Man’s Journey through the Dark Side of Lottery Millions, stated in an interview with the Daily Beast that “you’d be blown away to see how many winners wish they’d never won.”

Andrew “Jack” Whittaker is definitely on the list of Powerball lottery winners that are added on that particular list of regretful stories.

He initially found out that he was the winner of a $315 million jackpot when he woke up the morning of Christmas Day in 2002.

According to ABC News, he claimed that he “got sick” to his stomach and “just was at a loss for words and advice.” He further claimed that he “was really searching for advice” on that particular day.

He and his family essentially became overnight celebrities after becoming Powerball lottery winners and were even featured on numerous television shows. The emotional high and overall excitement of his multi-million dollar win apparently did not last as long as he may have thought it would.

Whittaker actually admitted in an April 2007 interview with ABC News that he regretted the whole thing.

“Since I won the lottery, I think there is no control for greed. I think if you have something, there’s always someone else that wants it. I wish I’d torn that ticket up.”

Jack did say that he was able to do a lot of good with his winnings at first, including donating $15 million to build two churches.

He received so many letters from people asking for financial help that he formed the Jack Whittaker Foundation along with Jill, the woman who initially sold him his winning ticket.

“Any place that I would go they would come up. I mean, we went to a ballgame, a basketball game … and we must have had 150 people come up to us … and it would be going right back to asking for money.”

According to the report, the former Powerball lottery winner gave away a minimum of $50 million worth of cash, car, and houses. Whittaker also used his lottery winnings to help his family members as well – including his granddaughter Brandi Bragg.

lottery winner
(Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

He reportedly bought an expensive home for Brandi and her mother in addition to giving his granddaughter $2,000 a week along with four brand new cars. He felt that “to a young kid cars mean a lot” so he was “very proud that she had four cars.”

His Powerball lottery winnings turned to the dark side nearly two years after he first received the money. In December 2004, his granddaughter disappeared. A two-week search unfortunately ended on December 20, 2004 when her body was found wrapped inside of a plastic sheet and dumped behind a van, according to NBC News.

Even though the official cause of death was reported as unknown, the Powerball lottery winner blamed the money for his granddaughter’s disappearance and death.

“My granddaughter is dead because of the money. She was the shining star of my life, and she was what it was all about for me,” he said. “From the day she was born, it was all about providing, and protecting, and taking care of her. You know, my wife had said she wished that she had torn the ticket up. Well, I wish that we had torn the ticket up too.”

As a Powerball lottery winner, Andrew “Jack” Whittaker gained direct access to the majority of a $315 million jackpot. Years later, though, he admits that “family is what is dear” – not money. He further explained that he just didn’t like himself, his “hard heart” and the man that he had become.

[Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images]