Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, April 9, 2007

Jack Whittaker -- An Unlucky Lottery Winner


For most people, the thought of winning the lottery is an exciting one.

However, it appears that for many of the "lucky," winning the lottery starts a downward spiral which may end in death, criminal conduct, and lawsuits.  See For lottery winners, trouble followed fortune, USA Today, Nov. 28, 2005, at 3A.

A detailed report about one of these lucky-unlucky individuals, Jack Whittaker, appears in Martin Bashir & Sara Holmberg, Powerball Winner Says He's Cursed, ABC News, April 7, 2007.  Here are some of the key parts of Jack's story:

  • Learned he won $315 million in Powerball lottery on December 25, 2002.
  • Intended to use money for the common good such as to feed people who didn't have food and build churches.
  • Gave $15 million of construction of two churches.
  • Established Jack Whittaker Foundation, making over $50 million in grants to individuals for houses, cars, etc.
  • Defended over 400 claims from his construction business, all of which were made since he won the lottery.
  • Began drinking excessively to console himself about the lawsuits which were damaging his company's reputation.
  • Spent excessive amounts on his granddaughter who then became a heavy user of illegal drugs and ended up dead from an unknown cause.

Special thanks to David S. Luber for bringing this article to my attention.


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Does he still help people in need? I am sooo desperate...I need help....I am a singel mom of 5, ages 3 - 20 and in desperate need of help to keep my family together and a roof over our heads

please direct someone from the foundation to me at uni4ever02@yahoo.com

thank you

Posted by: s | Apr 12, 2007 4:58:23 PM


Is it possible to be friends with Jack? Though I have my own challenges in life, I am not looking for any financial help. I admire Jack and what he has done for people in need. I have no family here and can relate to him. I have a 11 yr old daughter who I believe can give him some joy by being made-granddaughter. I would like to personally know Jack and talk to him. He has so much to offer. If he can ever call me or contact me, my information is (310)266-6462 or seemadurve@yahoo.com. I work for Sony Pictures as a Director of Credit. I would just like to know Jack if thats alright.

Thanks and I wish Jack's every waking hour is blessed.

Posted by: Seema | Apr 14, 2007 8:14:00 PM

please send this to jack and his wife . i do not want money i just want to say i am praying for you. i lost my 21 year old son to drugs and mental illness this past st pats day i so feel your sorrow if i can offer prayer and peace of mind i would be so blessed to help we live on an island in silt colo. we hope that it will be a safe haven for all those that are broken and in need of honest answers to the broken hearts. all i know is mental illness and drugs have no rules stay in touch with the lord and lock up that money god will find a way to help you. you can read my storey at www.postindepedent.com april 13 2007 god be with you virginia dupew

Posted by: virginia dupew | Apr 17, 2007 11:45:16 AM

Hello I heard Jack's story on TV. It is so sad. I am so sorry Jack. You seem to be a very sweet man.
I am one of many that needs help. I don't need much, my husband and I are trying to build a new life for ourselves, we live in Michigan and the unemployment rate here is 7%. If you would be willing to help us, we want to relocate to another state and try to rebuild our lives. We need 3,000 dollars to begin a new life together. If you can't help us, I understand. I pray for you, you have had a hard time since your winnings. Would you please help someone that truly needs help? I am so sorry about your granddaughter. I pray that you will find peace in your life. Thank you so much for at least listening to me. The Lord does love you, Jack. Take care.

Posted by: Jeanne | Apr 19, 2007 11:16:12 PM

I have heard that jack has helped people out since his win and I would like to ask for his help.I know that he has a website but I can't find the application for help. Maybe now he will see this and help me out. I'm inviting you [jack whittaker] to come and see why I need your help.My address is 24020 fm 914 rd Dublin,Texas. I hope you can help. We are hard working people but can never get ahead or on our feet. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, RAMON HERNANDEZ,RITA FALL,AND DAVID & MARIA JUAREZ

Posted by: ramon | Apr 20, 2007 6:48:01 PM

DEAR JACK WHITTAKER We are in need of your assittance. We are asking for your help because you have been helping others out. If you would come and see where we live you would see why I'm asking for your help. We invite you to our house the address is 24020 FM 914 RD DUBLIN TEXAS 76446 THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND GOD BLESS YOU RAMON HERNANDEZ .....

Posted by: ramon | Apr 20, 2007 7:39:06 PM

Dear Mr. Whittaker,

My heart breaks for you after hearing all of your hardships since winning the lottery. You are doing so many good things for people and communites. Keep your chin up and your spirits high. What a big test the Lord has put upon you. Everyone would love to win the lottery for their own reasons, but to ask you for money is wrong. They should go out and get jobs two or three if need be. Why do they always want the easy way out. Don't they know the pressures they put on you by asking? Mr. Whittaker my thoughts and prayers will remain in my heart for you and your family. Sometimes the tough times bring extra good times later! Keep smiling.
God's Blessings,
San Antonio

Posted by: San Antonio | Apr 22, 2007 1:23:02 PM

Jack, I live in LA. You need to come and look at the HOMELESS with your own eyes. Your granddaughter lost her life with illegal drugs and You can help SAVE many lives. Your Money can bring happiness to those who really need it and are not just waiting to receive hand outs. You can start by paying attention to the needs of the homeless and create special programs to force them go into rehab and provide training to make a difference in their lives. Don't let your granddaughter's death be the end of those who really deserve it. I am in the very bottom of the barrel and even though I can not help myself I am still not giving up to help other. THEY REALLY DESERVE IT AND NEED YOU. CALL me I have many great ideas to help this people. (323) 316-0782

Posted by: Blanca Castro | Apr 22, 2007 3:20:34 PM

Hi Jack, My name is kim.Ihave been trying to find an adress for your foundation.I have been praying to GOD for an answer to show me the way to help me save my house.On EASTER Sunday at dinner my sister-in-law had mentioned a lottery winner helping people with grants to help people save thier house's. I said to my self thank you GOD is this the answer I need,is this the way.PLEASE write me back and let me know or send me the adress of the foundation if this is the wright site.Keeping your faimly in my prayers always.THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME. KIM

Posted by: Kim Goodwin | Apr 24, 2007 7:11:32 AM

Hi, If you could have Mr.Jack email me i would like to talk with him "very personal"

Posted by: Gina | May 5, 2007 3:42:54 PM


I have seen your story several times over the past month and I just wanted to share with you how sorry I am that your life has turned out this way. We all believe, myself included, that if we had all the money in the world our troubles would be over! You have helped me to stop my daydreaming along those lines. I have come to accept that my life will always be a struggle and after seeing your story I stopped buying lotter tickets!!! I wish you all the best and I was heart broken to hear about your grandaugheter and wife! I pray that you find peace at some point in your life. I am not sure if you will ever read this but know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Sincerely Judi Murray judilynnnem@yahoo.com

Posted by: Judi Murray | May 6, 2007 1:09:58 PM

Hi Jack, My name is Darla I had seen your story on tv about how you would help people in need. I realize this is probually a long shot but it seemed you are a pretty down to earth person. I tried to find your address but was unable but I did find this web site, I guess I am not sure you will receive this. I am 38 and have been married for 11 years, my husband and I have always wanted children and I am affraid it is going to be too late soon to have any, We live in a very small trailer and have been there since we had gotten married and just have never been able to afford to purchase a home. We don't have enough room for children so that is why I am writing. i wanted to see if you could help us to purchase a home. could you please let me know one way or another if you could possibley help? Thank you, Darla Morstad

Posted by: Darla Morstad | May 9, 2007 8:55:31 AM

Hi im not sure that this will even reach you jack but i am going to try. I am the proud wife of SSG Patrick Kidder who has been active duty army for 10 years.

Recetnly we have run into things that were unforseen and have put us behind in our month to month bills. Soon Patrick will leave to go back to Iraq and i would just like to be able to be where we need to be before he goes so that he can rest easy and concentrate on his job while he is in iraq again for another year.

We have one son who is 18 and is on his way to college also we live in El Paso texas and patrick is stationed at Fort Bliss.

Thank you for your time

May god bless and keep you
Mary Kidder

Posted by: Mary Kidder | May 16, 2007 12:14:06 PM

hello i understand struggle in 97 i was in a car wreak that killed my mother and broke both of my legs. All this happen when i was 15 i had to learn to walk again and now at 25 i am having trouble working with my legs quickly getting wrose
needing surgery and help.. I am married with two girls 4 and 1 year old i work full-time but unable to play with my girls cause of the pain of my legs and go to school but it's alot on my legs and alot on my plate i want to be a working man and support my wife and kids but i feel useless because im unable to use my legs the way i want ..
the worst of it all is living with my wife family no house of are own or car we need help...im praying for a blessing thanks for listening and im very sorry for everything u most live with like i God bless Jon and family

Posted by: Jonathan | May 16, 2007 7:58:10 PM

Hi Jack, I'm not going to give you a sob story. I need to pay my bills off and a new Corvette. You will be helping a sinner like Jesus does by satisfying my lifestyle. I am not expecting you to give it to me, so what I'll do in exchange is hang out with you and be your friend because I am 25 and know what's cool to do without screwing up your life or pissing all your money away. I believe in the Lord also and would like to help spread the gospel. Thte Corvette thing was a joke. I will earn one

Posted by: so so def allstar | May 22, 2007 8:12:28 AM


Posted by: so so def allstar | May 22, 2007 8:21:46 AM


Mr. and Mrs.Whittaker

My name is Nicolas Triggs and I live in milwaukee, Wisconsin. Im not writing to you for me but for my mother, her name is Dana Williams. Mr.Jack my mother is a very special person and a very spiritural person and she had a dreame that she wrote you a letter and that you wrote her back, and you and Mrs. Whittaker meet her. She said that God showed her that dreame and I honestly belive by FAITH it's going to happen. So every since she had that dream she's been trying to get your information and shes been asking me and the rest of her kids to help get it, but we could never find it. But today May 24, 2007 I can honestly say that i found. Mr. and Mrs. Whittaker my mother has had a hard life and I honestly belive that you can be her (Breakthrough). Their is one more other thing that I would like to say, I no that you probably have millions and millions of people writing to you every day, but im not writing to for money or anyhting, but just a moment of your time to just talk to my mother, because I belive that you will be an insperation to her and my family and also to every generation that comes from my family, and also im not going to tell her that I got your info, but i pray that it will be a surpise.

So i sign this letter with with many prayers hoping that you will here my cry.

Nicolas Triggs

Posted by: Nicolas Triggs | May 24, 2007 9:43:59 AM

are you people for real?
why in the hell would you ask this guy for money?
just reading this crap is frightening. I feel sorry for these lottery winners having to deal with these leaches begging them for money.

Posted by: LD | Jul 8, 2007 12:14:40 AM

I don't want my intent taken out of context so I first want to explain something- I am not against helping people... I used to volunteer at the local mission, I still buy food for homeless people, I still pick up hitch hikers, etc....I have a very soft spot for the less fortunate there have been times I have almost broke down and cried when I have seen the tragic circumstances that some have been in..... However I have something to say to all the people begging for money from Jack.... YOU NEED TO LEAVE THE POOR MAN ALONE!!!!!!! HAVE YOU NOT READ THE STORIES???? IT'S PEOPLE LIKE YOU THAT HAVE RUINED HIS LIFE!!!!!! HE CAN'T ESCAPE YOU PEOPLE ANYWHERE!!!!! HE HAS 100-150 PEOPLE APPROACH HIM BEGGING FOR MONEY IF HE EVEN GOES TO A BALLGAME!!!!!!!! HE BECAME AN ALCOHOLIC BECAUSE YOU STINKIN PEOPLE WON'T LEAVE HIM ALONE!!!!!! LEAVE HIM ALONE ALREADY!!!!!! I have definitely learned a lot from reading all the stories of people who have won the lottery.... You WILL have family/friends problems pretty much no matter what you try to do with the lottery winnings... If I ever do win I am going to buy just enough rental properties to generate a middle class income.... THEN I AM IMMEDIATELY GIVING THE REST OF THE MONEY AWAY TO DIFFERENT CHARITIES/CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATIONS... THEN WILL GO PUBLIC AND SHOW THE MEDIA AND THE ENTIRE NATION MY BANK ACCOUNT WITH ONLY 6 MONTHS OF LIVING EXPENSES LEFT.....SO THAT WAY MONEY SPONGES WILL LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!!!!!! You money sponges have ruined Jack's Life!!! LEAVE HIM ALONE!!!!!

Posted by: Jeremiah Tscherny | Jul 13, 2007 9:37:33 PM

Hi, my name is Ellie Riesgo and I am a mother of 3. We live in Tampa, Florida. I was a paralegal and more recently a mortgage processor and just when I thought we would get it all together, the current market problems are making it impossible for us to make ends meet. I was injured a few years back and spent a year and a half in a wheelchair. I prayed alot and can walk again now, due mostly I believe, to the faith I have and to my strong will for my kids' sake. I live in pain but I have to work hard to help feed my kids. My oldest daughter needs heart surgery but, we can't even afford the tests she needs, much less the surgery. I figure if my business becomes successful, I would be able to help my daughter with her medical care and I could bring the family together again. I try to do my part to help people, as well, by helping those who cannot afford a lawyer with the preparation of forms that they could not otherwise prepare on their own. I feel that this makes a difference to others. My husband is working as a handy man 4 hours away and has been unable to come home for over a month because we cannot afford the gas for him to make the long drive. My yougest son is autistic and is having a real hard time because he misses his daddy and spends the whole day walking around the house crying for him and wakes up in the middle of the night calling for him. I am not looking for charity, but for a loan to start a business that would put us back on track. All I need is a $7,000 business loan and I am willing to repay this with interest. If you can help me, please call me at 813-447-7557. I know that alot of people have been asking for you to give them money, but all I want is a loan that I will gladly repay. Our family would be very grateful. That way maybe we can have a nice Christmas together this year. We couldn't afford Christmas last year and had a donated dinner from a church, but I want to work to make things better not receive hand-outs.

Posted by: Ellie Riesgo | Sep 2, 2007 6:47:31 AM

wow this is simply pathetic. i lived my whole life in a 3rd world country but i never complained how miserable my life is. In fact, i prayed and thanked the lord everyday for all the success i've made no matter how little they are.

Posted by: mr | Sep 2, 2007 6:56:35 AM

Jeez man, are you people freaking nuts? Like this guy who is going through his own personal Hell gives two *** about your problems! What is wrong with you people? It's freaking pathetic! Get a job, sell your car, don't buy that pack of smokes.....get some food for your kids! ***, I would lay on my back and earn the money for my kids surgery. You beg a guy for what he has instead. Wah, I can't afford a house so I can fill it with kids I can't afford either......freakin' sick.

Posted by: melody | Sep 2, 2007 7:22:58 PM

What I don't understand is all these people with their bad grammar and poor spelling asking for money(by way of a huge guilt trip)....lol. What if it worked, though? Then Jack would truly be a blessing to everyone. I rmemeber when I heard about the already rich guy winning the lottery and I was not happy at all....why should someone already well-off get more money? After reading about all your aches and pains, Jack, I see it hasn't been good for you at all and that is sad.When you don't have money, you think that your problems will be solved when you get some but that, apparently, is not true. I will pray for you Jack. Here we go...I have Multiple Sclerosis, 2 kids, haven't worked in 4.5 years and keep getting denied disability. I am leeching from my parents who only have Social Security but who love me to death and always help me out. My life, too, is sad. Well, financially, it is. My kids pay the worst price but they try to act understanding and say things like..."If you get some money, will you buy me (fill in the blank). Sometimes it's toys, more often it's clothes and shoes. They are homeschooled so there is no ridicule from other children but it would be nice to have a little money. If I could get disability then that would work for me. I had a lawyer, who sucked, the first time which is why I wasn't approved b4. I am currently appealing my 4th denial, praying for better results. I don't have a lawyer this time. If you would deign to help me in any way, Jack, I would appreciate it. rlynv@comcast.net is how I can be reached.

Posted by: R. Lyn | Sep 13, 2007 6:21:18 PM

If this gets to Jack, I just want you to know that I am praying for you. It sounds like you have felt God in your heart. Otherwise you wouldn't have donated all that money to churches. You know he is real. I want to say, I am not looking for money. I am not saying that to earn your trust, I'm sure you have heard that before, and a month later, the same people are looking for an ounce of trust, and of course money.
All I want is for you to fall back in love with Jesus. You have been hurt bad, and God understands your hurting, you've lost some of the nearest and dearest things to your heart. You have the right to be angry. But do not tell yourself that your cursed. God loves you very much, and he wants your heart. I do not want money, I am just sending a message from heaven stating he wants your heart again. Please email me back.
Love to you,
Burn 24-7 Ministry

Posted by: Bill Garvey | Sep 13, 2007 6:26:04 PM

Hi, I don't want to sound like i'm not the only one with problems. I know everyone has thier own issues. I just wanted to see if I could get some help. I am a mother of a 4 year old and a 3 month old. When I left for maternity leave I had enough money to cover my bills and expenses for 2 months. Well 2 weeks after I returned to work my baby needed to have surgery. He had 6 inches of his large intestine removed due to a birth defect called Hirschsprung's diease. I had to be off work longer. Three weeks after returing to work I got fired because my employer did not want me leaving my classroom to nurse my child. So here I am jobless and with a lot of bills. Don't get me wrong though I am busting my butt trying to get a new job. I just need some help until I do find a job. My main issue is finding a daycare for my children. It can cost $300/week just for daycare. Where I live, I can't really find a high paying job that doesn't require lots of experience or education. I want to go to school so I can become an RN. I want work in the Children's hospital where my baby was. I do not have the means to do that. I'm not asking for you to pay for me to go to college, I'm just asking if you can help me get out of debt so that I can start over again. If I would have known the things I do now, when I was younger, I would have made better choices. Now I can only focus on the future and making sure that I do everything right for the sake of my children. Mr. Jack hopefully you get a chance to read this. And if you do I will be happy just to hear that you are praying for me and my family. If and only if you want to help me please find me on myspace under the name lovin my boys. Thank you for your time! Iris

Posted by: iris | Sep 13, 2007 8:53:30 PM

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