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Poor Jack whittaker


Published: September 24, 2007 10:30 am           

Lessons from Powerball Jack

By Don McNay
McNay's Musings

“Looking for love in all the wrong places.”

— Johnny Lee

Five years after hitting the Powerball, Jack Whittaker admitted that he doesn’t have any friends.

Jack doesn’t have a lot going for him. He has run through millions of dollars, been involved in more than 450 legal actions, had his granddaughter die of a drug overdose, had his wife file for divorce and has been a public embarrassment.

It took years of blowing money on booze and strippers, but Jack seems to be wising up.

I read an interview where he offers other lottery winners some sound advice.

Jack’s best tip was to not start giving money away. “The more you give away,” he said, “the more they want you to give. And once you start giving it away, everyone labels you an easy touch and they are right there after you.”

Jack found out that money can’t buy you love.

People come into money unexpectedly and think their newfound money will buy them respect.

Instead, it buys them a lack of respect. A person with a soft touch is seen as a “mark” by con artists or “friends” with an entitlement mentality.

Those wanting handouts try to befriend the Jack Whitakers of the world. They figure a guy like Jack won’t miss a million dollars or so.

People who didn’t like you before you had money won’t suddenly start to like you when you are rich. They may like your checkbook, but they won’t like you.

At some level, Jack figured it out early on. He walked into strip clubs with hundreds of thousands of dollars. The strippers may have appealed to various parts of Jack’s anatomy, but they were only concerned with Jack’s wallet. Jack knew their motives, but he didn’t care.

Now, the money is gone and so are his fast-money “friends.” I hope Jack enjoyed it, but it doesn’t sound like he did.

Jack understands that he screwed up big time stating, “I’m only going to be remembered as that lunatic who won the lottery.”

He is absolutely right.

He set up the Jack Whittaker Foundation, which built churches and gave out college scholarships. He made a positive impact on a lot of people, but no one is going to remember that. They are only going to remember all his screw-ups.

If Jack had been smart, he would have given a big, tax-deductible, chunk of money to the foundation.

Then he could have told all the beggars and borrowers wanting money that they needed to qualify for a foundation grant. The foundation would have decided which cause was worthy and which was not.

I doubt that strippers would be on the list.

If Jack’s friends needed to borrow money, that is what banks are for. Every city has one. Banks understand the criteria for making a loan and the likelihood of it being paid back.

Banks know a lot more about lending than individuals do. When people ask me for a loan or try to borrow money from my clients, I send them to a bank. Banks are in the lending business and I am not.

When Jack became the personal banker for his friends, he lost his money and his friends.

I understand why people give money to friends and relatives. They love the people and want to help them.

They are using the wrong device to show love.

There is a scene in the movie, “Oh God,” where a televangelist told his flock, “I want to talk about the kind of love where you reach down in your pocket and dig deep!”

Like the movie character, too many people equate love with receiving gifts and too many people equate showing love with how much money they spend.

Powerball Jack learned about love the hard way. Before he won the lottery, he had a wife and a granddaughter. His wife left and his granddaughter is dead. As Jack admitted, none of his “friends” from the strip club are hanging around anymore.

He learned that by looking for love in all the wrong places. He lost the real love he had at home.

Entry #404


Comment by fastball 9 - December 27, 2011, 10:44 pm
Great article from Don McNay. He has book out on lottery winners and writes a column on financial topics. His advice is right on target, and, if I ever won a lottery he'd be the first guy I'd call. I like his humor, but you can see through as he talks about jack Whittaker. Jack did it his way, which didn't turn out that well. As they say, a lot of cash can magnify your personal shortcomings. Jack appears to have had quite a few. I hear that Jack has been trying to live the quiet life now, although he still maintains significant business activities in and near his home in western West Virginia. He owns used car lots, payday loan stores, race tracks, dollar-type stores, places to eat and, of course, his construction company to name a few. He's also, according to locals I talked with awhile ago, on the wagon and goes to church. Tha's good, as his drinking was getting him into a lot of problems with, as Don noted, strippers and the likes. I hope he has some happiness in his remaining time. I feel bad for him, but, he is trying to redeem himself. I think his last public comments were in 2009 when he said that he hoped lotteries would allow all winners to remain confidential, as going public can be the start of a bad lottery experience. Have to agree with that.

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