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Believe it or not, stats show that a whopping 70% of all lottery winners end up broke, and a third go on to declare bankruptcy. This rags-to-riches-to-rags scenario is mostly as a result of runaway spending, bad investments and poor accounting.

To illustrate, here are five such US Lotto winners who managed to completely reverse their fortune:

  1. Kansas City grandmother Marva Wilson won $2 million on the Missouri Lottery in 2008, but didn't hold onto it for very long. A family acquaintance scammed the unfortunate, trusting prize-winner out of her winnings, leaving Wilson with nothing.

  2. 45-year-old Ronnie Music Jr invested in crystal meth of all things when he landed a $3 million payday playing the Georgia Lottery in February 2015. The hapless drug dealer not only lost his investment, he was also sentenced to 21 years in prison in April 2016.

  3. Janite Lee, a South Korean immigrant and former wig-maker literally went from rags to riches after winning $18 million on the Missouri Lottery in 1993.  Her dream soon turned into a nightmare after she donated millions to charity and bankrolled the Democrat Party, and bought everything on credit. By 2001, Lee was bankrupt, owing her debtors a staggering $2.5 million.

  4. In 2002, Kentucky resident David Lee Edwards won a cool $27 million share of a Powerball jackpot. Delirious with his new-found wealth, Edwards went on the mother of all spending sprees, blowing the whole lot in under five years. His shopping list included a huge mansion, a fleet of luxury cars, a LearJet, as well as copious amounts of drugs that eventually took their toll. To cut long story short, the ill-fated winner died in 2013 at the age of 58, penniless and alone.

  5. Construction boss from Virginia, Jack Whittaker, won a mammoth $314.9 million on the Powerball multi-state lottery in 2002, and opted for a lump sum payout of $113 million. It seems that is also the day Lady Luck left him for good, as he proceeded to quickly squander the cash on bad investments, and was even robbed at one point. By 2007, all the money was gone.

What NOT to do when you win big explores the reality of winning an online jackpot and while it’s perfectly understandable that the incredible rush of becoming an instant millionaire can blur your good judgement, there are simple mistakes you can avoid so as not to join the list of bankrupt winners we have mentioned.

For example;

  • Don’t tell everyone you know! You risk all sorts of dangers ranging from people asking for hand-outs to something more serious like kidnapping for ransom. There have even been reports of recent lottery winners being murdered. So, if you can manage it, stay anonymous for as long as possible!

  • Don’t think you are the smartest person to manage your finances if you’ve lived your life from one paycheck to the next. There are investment experts out there who will guide you and protect your assets.

  • Don’t make debt again. Seriously. Ever.

  • Think twice before embarking on a high-roller lifestyle or becoming the most generous friend. Taking you and 50 of your favorite friends on a luxury cruise around the world can become very expensive, very fast!

  • Don’t scoff at a budget. You may be wealthier than anyone you know, but it is still a finite sum of money – spend it wisely!

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