Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The ‘Curse’ of Winning the Lottery

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-02-12/ed8eb045-7a46-4436-aad8-84957ba5a165.pngMost of us have sat idly and dreamed of a day when the sweet greenbacks flow like the Nile in summer and the only money issue we have to consider is whether we can spend that cabbage fast enough. While our daydreams tend to be light and lovely, the reality of winning large sums of cash can be morbidly dark. For Abraham Shakespeare, a $30 million Florida lottery winner, his lucky break was a short-lived affair. After befriending a seemingly kind young woman who offered to help manage his finances, he was soon to discover she had more sinister intentions. Shakespeare’s body was discovered three years after he claimed his prize in a makeshift grave under a slab of concrete. The young lady who had been so eager to lend her assistance had murdered him for the money. She was found and eventually sentenced to life in prison.

There are many anecdotes detailing these fortune-to-murder stories with equally unpleasant conclusions; some lucky lottery winner cashes in for millions and is found dead months or years later, their life snuffed out because someone desperately wanted their wealth. This sinister phenomenon has become increasingly well known, so common in fact that such tales have prompted the winner of last month’s $559.7 million lottery jackpot, a New Hampshire woman, to refuse to claim her prize unless she is granted anonymity. Edward Ugel, author of “Money for Nothing: One Man's Journey Through the Dark Side of Lottery Millions,” has said that of the “thousands of lottery winners I knew, a few were happy and a few lived happily ever after. “But you would be blown away to see how many winners wish they'd never won.”

See Christopher Carbone, The ‘Curse’ of Winning the Lottery, Fox News, February 7, 2018.


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Many lottery winners are compulsive gamblers, which makes sense from the point of view of how they increase their odds. Winning the lottery does not cure them.

Posted by: Susan Leboff | Feb 15, 2018 8:22:31 AM

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