NEW YORK — The current Powerball jackpot was worth $478 million on Saturday.
Go ahead, dream about what you would do with it. Private island, maybe? Your own Dairy Queen franchise? Choose carefully, because unscrupulous spending is a common plague among the tout nouveau riche.
If you do win a big chunk of cash, you can probably afford to hire someone smart to make decisions for you. Until then, you can just read about these cautionary tales for free.
Don’t spend millions bailing your fiance out of jail
Brace yourself for the roller coaster love story of Marie Holmes and her fiance/partner Lamar “Hot Sauce” McDow. The Shallote, North Carolina, woman won a portion of a $564 million jackpot in February 2015, taking home about $88 million. Since then she has spent more than $20 million of it bailing her dear Hot Sauce out of jail.
Holmes spent $3 million to spring Mr. Sauce the first time in November 2015. Less than a year later, he was popped for drug trafficking charges, and Holmes donated another $6 million to the Free Hot Sauce Fund. The third time was a paltry $10,000, but the fourth time was the real winner. In January this year, Hot Sauce tried to organize a street race and his beloved had to put up $12 million — $12 MILLION — to free him.
Don’t try and divorce your husband without telling him you’re a brand-new millionaire
The next time you dream about winning a huge sum of money and then leaving your spouse out to dry, remember Denise Rossi (and maybe consider counseling?).
In 1996, Rossi hit it big, winning $1.3 million from the California Lottery. A few days later, she blindsided her husband by asking for a divorce. Oh, and she never mentioned the fact she was a newly-minted millionaire. Rossi was all over the “take the money and run” philosophy.
She would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling California asset disclosure laws. During her divorce proceedings, her new-found fortune was found out and, get this, the court awarded the whole thing to her husband! Well, ex husband. Oddly enough, they weren’t able to reconcile.
Don’t allow a philandering relative to claim your money for you
In 2012 Etta May Urquhart was obviously delighted to find she had won a $51 million California jackpot. However, things got ugly when, as her accusations go, she and her son Ronnie Orender decided it would be easier on her if he signed the winning ticket and went with his parents to claim the earnings.
A year later, Urquhart straight up sued her son, alleging he had swindled her out of her money. She also claimed elder abuse. The lawsuit eventually reached an undisclosed settlement. Still, though. m=Money makes people crazy.
Don’t buy your tickets too late
You know how if you come to a bus stop and the bus isn’t there, it’s no big deal and you wait, but if you just missed the bus, you stew and rage against the unfairness of it all and what could have been if you only made it? That’s sort of like Margit Arrobio’s story, except the bus in this case is a fat wad of cash.
The Pasadena, Calif., woman (why is it always California?) bought a few Powerball tickets in 2013, when the jackpot was at a sensible $360 million. The next morning watching the news, she discovered she held a winning ticket.
All of the numbers matched. The dream of owning her own Dairy Queen franchise was finally within reach!
Except, it wasn’t really a winning ticket, because Arrobio had bought the tickets an hour after the Powerball cutoff time. Margit! No! Her life must have felt like the sound they play when you lose on “The Price is Right.”
Don’t not claim your winnings
Those who ascribe to the Ricky Bobby school of thought — “If you’re not first, you’re last” — may be missing out on millions of sweet lotto dollars. Second place prizes for Powerball and MegaMillions drawings are worth at least $1 million, and an estimated 114 of these million-dollar payouts went unclaimed in 2015.
Listen, the lottery odds will never, ever sway even remotely in your favor, but at least make sure you’re not missing out on free money!