Someone in South Carolina, whose identity remains unknown, won $1.6 billion dollars in Tuesday’s Powerball lottery. It’s the biggest lottery prize ever awarded…and that’s not necessarily such a good thing.
Marvin and Mae Acosta also won $327.8 million in January, and wanted to establish a charity. This made them a target for scammers. One group even set up a fake charity using the Acosta name, and sent out scam letters to others under the name, according to Lottery Critic.
Many lottery winners have discovered that there is a dark side to raking in a huge jackpot. Almost every lottery winner whose name is published by the media becomes a target for scammers. Their names get put on email chains, phony websites, and social media accounts.
And then there’s the seekers. Family members, acquaintances, schoolmates, and everyone who ever knew a big lottery winner suddenly re-surfaces with a story about why they need some money, or their great business plan or some investment opportunity — you get the idea.
James Groves split a $336 million jackpot with a friend in August 2009, and found that winning isn’t so great after all. After he was flooded with calls from people asking for money, he said that winning the lottery is “a dream turned into a nightmare.”
“Winning is the beginning,” he said, according to Forbes. “Living with it is pure hell.”
Bud Post won $16.2 million in 1998, and practically never had another happy day. His brother hired a hit man to try and kill him and his wife. His relatives convinced him to invest in businesses that failed. Everything went downhill. In 2006, Post declared bankruptcy.
Billie Bob Harrell Jr. won $31 million in the Texas lottery, and things spiraled immediately. Just 20 months after winning, he committed suicide.
Being a winner can also be dangerous. One winner of a $31 million jackpot was murdered, according to The Atlantic.
Jack Whittaker was the biggest winner ever in 2002 when he gained $314.9 million. A series of terrible things began to happen right away. His car was broken into twice, two of his employees were arrested for conspiring to rob him, he was sued, and both his granddaughter and daughter died.
“I wish I’d torn that ticket up,” he has said of winning the lottery.
According to Time, statistics at the National Endowment for Financial Education show that around 70 percent of people who win a lot of cash lose it within a few years.
And right now, there is someone in South Carolina who just got 1.6 billion big ones richer. This person has 180 day to claim the money, which they may do anonymously, according to NBC News.
South Carolina is one of only a few states that allows winners to remain anonymous, which may just be the best course of action to follow.
“A lot of winners have to move because there are just so many requests for money coming from, not just family and friends, but everyone,” says Nelson Rose, a professor who specializes in gaming regulations.
The winning ticket was purchased at the KC Mart No. 7 in Simpsonville. The winner has the option to take a cash lump sum, and receive their winnings all at once, to receive $904 million. Otherwise, they can choose to receive their money through an annuity that will pay out over the next 29 years.