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Record Powerball lottery winner's life a mess after big win

PowerballPowerball: Record Powerball lottery winner's life a mess after big win

The worlds first glimpse of Jack Whittaker, winner of the richest undivided lottery jackpot in U.S. history, was of a boisterous, happy-go-lucky guy in a big cowboy hat who loved his family, work and God and promised to share his good fortune with the church and the poor.

Two years later, the picture the public is seeing now is a mug shot of a haggard, somber Whittaker.

Whittaker, 57, has been arrested twice on charges of drunken driving in the past year and has been ordered to go into rehab by Jan. 2 for a 28-day stay. He also faces charges he attacked a bar manager, and is accused in two lawsuits of making trouble at a nightclub and a racetrack.

Thats probably the unfortunate situation of maybe having too much money, too much time on his hands, said Steve Zubrzycki, who works for a company that started selling Wheres Jack? T-shirts after authorities issued an arrest warrant for Whittaker earlier this month.

Although he was already a wealthy contractor, Whittaker became an instant celebrity on Christmas Day 2002 after winning a $314.9 million Powerball jackpot. He took his winnings in a lump sum of $113 million after taxes, and at a news conference in which he came across as a jolly saint, he promised to donate one-tenth to his church and contribute to other causes.

He soon created a charity to help people find jobs, buy food or get an education; he split $7 million among three churches; and he gave money to improve a Little League park and buy playground equipment and coloring books for children.

But in August 2003, a briefcase containing $545,000 in cash and cashiers checks was stolen from Whittakers sport utility vehicle while it was parked at a strip club, and police disclosed that Whittaker not only frequented strip clubs but was also a high-stakes gambler which is why he was carrying so much cash.

The break-in was the first of several thefts involving Whittakers vehicle, his office and his house in Scott Depot, a booming community of about 8,000 situated between Charleston and Huntington, West Virginias two biggest cities.

One of the thefts occurred at his home on the same day an 18-year-old friend of Whittakers granddaughter was found dead there. The death remains under investigation. Whittaker was out of town at the time, but the young mans death made the lottery winner part of yet another front-page story.

Last week, Whittaker reported that his 17-year-old granddaughter was missing. The family had not seen or heard from Brandi Lasha Bragg since Dec. 4. Authorities are investigating.

In May, two men sued Whittaker, claiming they were injured when they were tossed out of a nightclub at his request. In another lawsuit, three female employees of a racetrack claim Whittaker assaulted them last year.

On Monday, Whittaker pleaded no contest to a battery charge and was fined $100 and ordered to begin attending weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings within 15 days. He was accused of threatening and assaulting a bar manager in January.

As if we needed another hit on our image as a backward, hillbilly state, along comes Jack Whittaker to reinforce the comedy cracks like Jay Leno makes, groused Dewey Large of Princeton. This clown is not capable of handling a $10 bill, much less all those millions. Every time you turn around hes having trouble with the laws of our state. What a waste of all that money.

Whittaker has donated more than $20 million to charity since winning the lottery, said his lawyer, Norm Daniels.

Today, his charitable foundation is closed, according to a secretary at Whittakers company. The legal troubles have raised questions about whether he will be able to fulfill his many promises to help others.

Whittaker declined comment Monday, and his lawyers did not respond to requests for an interview. He told The Associated Press last year that he had been bombarded with requests for help, and the fame was taking a toll on his family.

If I had to do it all over, Id be more secluded about it, he said. Id do the same things, but Id be a little more quiet.

Lottery winners commonly regret being so public about their windfalls, said Susan Bradley, founder of the Sudden Money Institute in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Youre really in an international spotlight, Bradley said. The expectations of you are just it never ends. Its exaggerated by anyone who feels they are entitled or have an opportunity to grab a piece of it.

As for Whittaker, I think its pretty sad, really, said Jerry Medley of Hurricane. It just goes to show money cant always buy happiness. He added: I dont have no bad feelings about the guy. I just hope he gets his life straight. I think he could do some good with the money.

Wife Regrets Big Win

Whittaker's wife says she regrets his purchase of the $314.9 million ticket that has thrust her family into the public spotlight.

"I wish all of this never would have happened," Jewel Whittaker said. "I wish I would have torn the ticket up."

AP Photo

Record Powerball winner Jack Whittaker, 57, of Scott Depot, walks toward the Putnam County Judicial Annex Monday in Winfield. Whittaker entered a no-contest plea on a misdemeanor assault charge.

Lottery Post Staff

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22 comments. Last comment 12 years ago by Guest.
Page 1 of 2
United States
Member #1610
June 3, 2003
668 Posts
Posted: December 14, 2004, 2:11 pm - IP Logged

If I had to do it all over, Id be more secluded about it, ... sounds like good honest advice from Jack to future jackpot recipients - along with an unpublished phone number.


... the lottery never fails to surprise!
    four4me's avatar - gate1
    United States
    Member #1701
    June 18, 2003
    8397 Posts
    Posted: December 14, 2004, 2:58 pm - IP Logged

    If you win big money you have to be willing and able to deal with the consequences of your actions. This guy was out of control. Is probably still out of control. Time may change Jack be he can't change time. He's has plenty of money to hire a driver but probably is to proud to let someone drive him. A third conviction if it happens for drinking and driving will mean a longer stay in jail. I hope he realizes that and doesn't drive drunk again. 

      United States
      Member #1849
      July 15, 2003
      265 Posts
      Posted: December 14, 2004, 3:15 pm - IP Logged

      i'm sorry folks but strip clubs and racetracks are nothing but trouble no matter how rich or poor you are. this has nothing to do with money, Jack would in trouble either way, we're just hearing about because of his status.

        New Member

        United States
        Member #5958
        July 29, 2004
        6 Posts
        Posted: December 14, 2004, 3:26 pm - IP Logged

        He looks like he has aged 20 years.....wow....it can't be the money....it has to be what he is doing to himself.

          unseen's avatar - 4eyes
          louisville, Ky
          United States
          Member #4928
          June 3, 2004
          142 Posts
          Posted: December 14, 2004, 4:36 pm - IP Logged

          Im reading some of this and laughing. People will find a way to sue you if you have money. Step on someone's toe "oh you're that lottery winner...Im sueing" Bump someone and spill their drink on them "oh you won that big lottery ...let me see what I can get out of this"   You're a target when you have lots of money. But at the same time you can afford the best lawyers to get you out of a jam.

            United States
            Member #379
            June 5, 2002
            11296 Posts
            Posted: December 14, 2004, 4:45 pm - IP Logged

            I live in Putnam County...NY.

              fja's avatar - gnome1

              United States
              Member #91
              January 19, 2002
              12018 Posts
              Posted: December 14, 2004, 4:55 pm - IP Logged

              good luck Jack,,,you need it......

              "Everybody has to believe in something...I believe I'll have another beer!"   = W.C.Fields                      

                Maverick's avatar - yinyang
                United States
                Member #8242
                October 29, 2004
                1133 Posts
                Posted: December 14, 2004, 6:10 pm - IP Logged

                >> August 2003, a briefcase containing $545,000 in cash and cashiers checks was stolen from Whittakers sport utility vehicle while it was parked at a strip club <<


                >> This clown is not capable of handling a $10 bill, much less all those millions." <<


                >> Whittaker has donated more than $20 million to charity since winning the lottery. Today, his charitable foundation is closed. <<

                Well at least he did try to do something right.

                >> "I wish all of this never would have happened," Jewel Whittaker said. "I wish I would have torn the ticket up." <<

                Hmmm, I wonder if she truly means it.

                  United States
                  Member #7262
                  September 27, 2004
                  111 Posts
                  Posted: December 14, 2004, 6:46 pm - IP Logged



                  Hmmm, the winner Jack looks tired and pale very much .. even looks older .I am so sorrrryyyyy to see the photo! Honestly ....I hope he will be fine soon....

                  I asked myself: How can something make he looked like that ???

                  The worse thing according to me is missing of his grand daugher ??? No more

                  If someone come to distub him for any bad reason he can hire a police to protect him!!!

                  Why can he become so depressed ??? If I was him I will be super strong to WORK EVERY STUPID THING OUT!

                  It is sorry  I am not a winner at all!!!!! whoa whoa

                  PS: Anyway, Superciously, Win big = Giving big! Other wise the unlucky may come ....!!!!!!

                    United States
                    Member #7262
                    September 27, 2004
                    111 Posts
                    Posted: December 14, 2004, 7:02 pm - IP Logged

                    "I wish all of this never would have happened," Jewel Whittaker said. "I wish I would have torn the ticket up."

                      kbcherokee's avatar - buffalo2
                      United States
                      Member #1712
                      June 20, 2003
                      1549 Posts
                      Posted: December 14, 2004, 7:30 pm - IP Logged


                      Please come into my Tipi, we need to talk...


                      May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house. May  the Great Spirit bless all who enter there. May your mocassins make happy tracks in many snows. And may the rainbow always touch your shoulder.

                        whodeani's avatar - lightening

                        United States
                        Member #2484
                        October 9, 2003
                        212 Posts
                        Posted: December 15, 2004, 11:21 am - IP Logged
                        Quote: Originally posted by fja on December 14, 2004

                        good luck Jack,,,you need it......

                        I think Jack got a lifetime's worth of luck on December 25th, 2002. His luck is all used up. Jack can't count on luck anymore to get is life straight.
                          New Member

                          United States
                          Member #9463
                          December 8, 2004
                          7 Posts
                          Posted: December 15, 2004, 12:06 pm - IP Logged

                          My take on this (since I'm the newbe on the block):

                          I have more symphony for Mr. Whittaker's family than I do for Jack himself. His family was dragged into the spotlight when he won and because of it, they've had to suffer everything when Mr. Whittaker had made news over his careless behavior. 

                          Last year at about this time, the Whittaker's were featured in a newspaper story where they had told the reporter that they had regreated willing that $314 million jackpot. In addition to the constant hounding for money from strangers,  Mr. Whittaker's wife and granddaughter (the one that is now missing) had lost friends after they had learned that just because they were friends with the Whittakers, it did not mean that they would be "entitled" to any money from them.

                          I think that the Whittaker case (as well as others in the "Winner's Nightmare" trend from several week ago) is very important as it can show all of us how NOT to handle a major windfall.



                            United States
                            Member #972
                            December 30, 2002
                            465 Posts
                            Posted: December 15, 2004, 12:32 pm - IP Logged

                            I just can't believe that having $100 million or any amount of money makes you a drunk who crashes cars, goes to strip clubs and race tracks, and causes you to carry suitcases of cash that get stolen.  The money gives you 24 hours a day to do these things if you choose to, but money doesn't force you to do them or become a drunken wreck.

                            Was Jack implying that if his shenanigans didn't make the news, then he wouldn't be in the same sorry situation even though he would "do the same things"?  And yet his wife thinks their problems come from the money alone?

                            Jack, get a medical check up, then go to some island health spa for a couple of months under an alias, exercise, eat healthy, no drinking and get some spa treatments. You'll be a new person.

                            The only way to see if being the biggest jackpot winner sends people spinning in a downward spiral is to see what happens to the person who wins more than Jack.