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$315M Lottery Winner Shuns Attention

After the Big WinAfter the Big Win: $315M Lottery Winner Shuns Attention

$315M Lottery Winner Andrew Whittaker Says He Wishes He'd Been Quieter About Hitting Jackpot

The letters never stop.  Requests, pleas, hard-luck stories, tales to break your heart: thousands of them, enough to fill hip-high filing cabinets that line three conference-room walls in Andrew "Jack" Whittaker's new office.

They come by the dozens, day after day, though it has been a year since Whittaker won the richest undivided lottery jackpot in U.S. history $314.9 million, payable in an after-tax lump sum of $113 million in a Christmas Day drawing.

"I can't even read them," the 56-year-old Whittaker said.  "I wouldn't have any money left if I did."

The visitors keep coming, too.  Two to four a day from as far away as Washington and Idaho bringing tales of woe to the Scott Depot house Whittaker still owns, ringing the bell still answered by his wife, Jewell.

Tell the world you have $113 million, and that you're willing to give part of it away, and the world will beat a path to your door.

"If I had to do it all over, I'd be more secluded about it," said Whittaker, a sewer and water contractor who built a multimillion-dollar business well before he won the jackpot.  "I'd do the same things, but I'd be a little more quiet."

After winning the Powerball jackpot, Whittaker brought his wife, daughter and granddaughter to a news conference, then did a round of national interviews in which he said he would donate a tenth of his winnings to his church and start a foundation to help poor West Virginians.

In many ways Whittaker is the same unpretentious, no-nonsense, cowboy-hat-wearing guy he was before he hit the jackpot.  But his natural openness is tempered by a certain wariness.  Security guards now watch his home and office, and last week an assistant videotaped and audiotaped an interview in which he said he regretted the toll fame has taken on his family.

Whittaker said he and his daughter, Ginger, were used to dealing with the public and so have not been traumatized by the attention.  ("I'm not bashful; I can tell people where to go but fast.")

But his wife and his granddaughter, Brandi, are another story.

"There should be a book to tell you how to handle it when people get thrown into the limelight," he said.  "My wife swears she's going to write it.  People aggravate her to death asking for money."

Brandi has lost almost all of her friends, Whittaker said.  "They want her for her money and not for her good personality," he said.  "She's the most bitter 16-year-old I know.  She doesn't communicate with almost anybody but me.  I'm working on it, though."

Lottery winners often struggle to handle newfound wealth and fame, and many become tied up in lawsuits or estranged from family and friends.  One study claimed that instant millionaires have about the same level of happiness as recent accident victims.

For his part, Whittaker has brought some unwanted attention upon himself.

During a late-night July foray to a West Virginia strip club, Whittaker opened a briefcase filled with $545,000 in cash and cashier's checks in front of a club employee.  Whittaker was soon drugged, and the briefcase was stolen, police said.

The money was recovered, and two club employees were arrested.  But the incident put a spotlight on Whittaker's habits, which police said included frequent strip-club visits and high-stakes gambling at a dog track and casino.

Whittaker declined to talk about the incident or other parts of his life he deemed private.  He said he does not go to the track much these days since he dislikes the attention.  "I could have a ski mask on and they'd still recognize me," he said.

Unlike other lottery winners, Whittaker was used to handling big money before he hit the jackpot.  He said he has spent about $45 million in the past year, much of it buying dozens of properties for industrial development in West Virginia and Ohio.  "I haven't bought nothing that's not worth more than what I paid for it," he said.

His contracting company has expanded from $15 million in annual contracts to $35 million, and its work force has gone from around 115 employees to 370 at peak construction season, he said.

About $14 million has been spent on charity work, almost half of it through the Jack Whittaker Foundation, he said.  The three-employee foundation helps West Virginians find jobs, buy food or get an education.  Whittaker said the foundation has probably helped about 900 families, many of whom were checked out by private investigators first.

He has also donated more than $7 million to three Church of God pastors in West Virginia and California.

One goal he has not achieved: spending more time with his family. The man who used to work 14-hour days is busier than ever.  "I was hoping I could start taking naps in the afternoon," Whittaker said, "but that hasn't happened yet."

AP

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21 comments. Last comment 13 years ago by Lotto Czar.
Page 1 of 2
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United States
Member #434
June 30, 2002
675 Posts
Offline
Posted: December 26, 2003, 8:15 am - IP Logged

Wow, so in 1 year this guy has gone through about half of his winnings. Granted it seems a majority of it has gone to help people in WV, but that is still very startling.


    United States
    Member #379
    June 5, 2002
    11296 Posts
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    Posted: December 26, 2003, 8:20 am - IP Logged

    I don't think JW is going to care about the new PA game.

      RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
      mid-Ohio
      United States
      Member #9
      March 24, 2001
      19825 Posts
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      Posted: December 26, 2003, 8:34 am - IP Logged

      I don't think JW is going to care about going on TV if he every wins another lottery jackpot either.

      RJOh

       * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
         
                   Evil Looking       


        United States
        Member #379
        June 5, 2002
        11296 Posts
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        Posted: December 26, 2003, 8:35 am - IP Logged

        I didn't notice right away..."ANDREW Whittaker"? Is that his middle name?

          weshar75's avatar - Lottery-042.jpg
          Mcminnville, Oregon
          United States
          Member #3013
          December 13, 2003
          3049 Posts
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          Posted: December 26, 2003, 9:03 am - IP Logged

          It looks like Mr. Whittaker's life hasn't been all that great since he won the Powerball.  I hope that he enjoys his winnings while he still has some of it left to enjoy.

            RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
            mid-Ohio
            United States
            Member #9
            March 24, 2001
            19825 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: December 26, 2003, 9:11 am - IP Logged

            Cash,

            According to the following article, his full is Andrew Jackson "Jack" Whittaker Jr.

            http://www.forbes.com/home_europe/2002/12/27/cx_da_1227topnews.html

            RJOh

             * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
               
                         Evil Looking       

              RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
              mid-Ohio
              United States
              Member #9
              March 24, 2001
              19825 Posts
              Offline
              Posted: December 26, 2003, 1:10 pm - IP Logged

              Sounds like JW should live in one of those gated community where the only poor folk allowed to enter are those working for somebody that lives in the community.  Sounds awful but sometime people have to do awful things to protect themselves from people who have no respect for their privacy or their families.

              RJOh

               * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                 
                           Evil Looking       

                four4me's avatar - gate1
                MD
                United States
                Member #1701
                June 18, 2003
                8360 Posts
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                Posted: December 26, 2003, 2:36 pm - IP Logged

                Someone in his position should have know what would happen if you offered to set up a foundation. He states someone should have written a book about winning. They have he didn't bother to read it. Even if he gave it all his winnings away he'd still be a millionaire. If he didn't expect to win why bother to spend a hundred dollars on tickets. He could have easily just bought one ticket and left the winning ticket to someone more deserving.

                I'm not real sure about this he said he gave money to the church. The news stations reported they didn't want any of his ill begotten gains.

                Cracks me up when millionaires say they can't handle the fame. I say easiest way to deal with that would be give the money to someone who could. You don't hear Bill Gates or Donald Trump saying stuff like that. 

                And by the way if your still struggling with what to do with the money I could find a way to spend a million of it and still have some left over...........

                  Avatar
                  Wisconsin
                  United States
                  Member #1610
                  June 3, 2003
                  668 Posts
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                  Posted: December 26, 2003, 7:45 pm - IP Logged

                  i wouldn't have any trouble

                  ... the lottery never fails to surprise!
                    Avatar
                    Coastal Georgia
                    United States
                    Member #2653
                    October 30, 2003
                    1866 Posts
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                    Posted: December 26, 2003, 8:35 pm - IP Logged

                    I'd gladly take the money and the media attention.

                    The circus is what you make it. YOU are in control at that point, YOU decide what to do..... YOU call the shots......speaking of which, Myself and my significant other would be relatively easy to find...we would be in Vegas in a suite at Caesars having room service meals by day and playing blackjack by nite and of course...doubling down when necessary !!!

                     

                                                   

                                  

                     

                     

                      RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
                      mid-Ohio
                      United States
                      Member #9
                      March 24, 2001
                      19825 Posts
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                      Posted: December 26, 2003, 9:20 pm - IP Logged
                      Quote: Originally posted by four4me on December 26, 2003



                      ..... He could have easily just bought one ticket and left the winning ticket to someone more deserving.

                       






                      Does anybody ever buy even a single lottery ticket thinking they don't deserve to win?   I think anybody lucky enough to have bought a winning ticket deserve to win even if it is not me(one of the most deserving person I know).

                      RJOh

                       * you don't need to buy more tickets, just buy a winning ticket * 
                         
                                   Evil Looking       

                        four4me's avatar - gate1
                        MD
                        United States
                        Member #1701
                        June 18, 2003
                        8360 Posts
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                        Posted: December 26, 2003, 9:38 pm - IP Logged

                        Rjoh when you buy a lottery ticket when the jackpot is that high you ought to be thinking of the consequences of your actions.

                        It only takes one ticket to win.

                        Maybe deserving was a wrong choice of words. Millionaires becoming mega millionaires and not being able to handle it was more my point of thought.

                          hypersoniq's avatar - 8ball
                          Pennsylvania
                          United States
                          Member #1340
                          April 6, 2003
                          2450 Posts
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                          Posted: December 26, 2003, 10:12 pm - IP Logged

                          There are ways to remain anonymous, JW was already a millionaire and should have known them. I would take the time... been without millions this long... and ensure that the anonymity was in place. Not for myself, but for the safety of the family. Making winner personal info public domain is a bad thing, regardless of their reasoning... and the press is as much to blame as the lotteries, why is is that a sudden winfall is even newsworthy in the first place? Surely there must be something more interesting to fill up the news than identifying the next target of scammers all over the nation...

                          Powerball and PA both require name and location and amount won, neither require a photo, at least not according to their FAQs...

                          Regardless of the difficulty, confusion, and initial outlay of $$$, the trust system or some other vehicle of anonymity should be priority ONE (after winning in the first place, of course) unless you are willing to put your family through the media circus...  Winning that much IS a big responsibility, I'm ready for it... which is probably why I'll never win... such is life... 

                          Playing more than one ticket per game is betting against yourself.

                            mken35's avatar - starwars06

                            United States
                            Member #1809
                            July 7, 2003
                            84 Posts
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                            Posted: December 27, 2003, 4:42 pm - IP Logged
                            Quote: O