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You want the other Jack; he's got the millions

Jan 30, 2004, 6:54 am

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Insider BuzzInsider Buzz: You want the other Jack; he's got the millions

The other Jack Whittaker of West Virginia -- the one who wasn't arrested on drunken driving charges last weekend, whose money wasn't stolen outside a strip club and who definitely didn't win $113 million -- wishes the Jack Whittaker of lottery fame would behave.

Not that Jack Whittaker of Princeton, W.Va., is one to pass judgment on anyone's personal life.

It's just that every time the other Jack Whittaker gets into one of those embarrassing legal scrapes, the non-famous Jack Whittaker gets hit with another flurry of mistaken identity calls.

"I do wish he would stay out of trouble," says Jack Whittaker, the man who made about $30,000 from his driveway pavement and sealing business the same year the rich Jack Whittaker hit a Powerball jackpot of $314.9 million before taxes, the largest take in U.S. history.

It happened again this week after police arrested Jack Whittaker, the lottery winner who lives a few hours away in Scott Depot, W.Va. Police say he was driving drunk en route to a local racetrack, a charge he denies.

Not surprisingly, the fabulously rich Jack Whittaker has an unlisted number and could not be reached for comment for this story, let alone a zillion additional pitches for charity. So a call to directory assistance yields the other Jack Whittaker's number and address. And a reporter is not the only one hitting up the wrong Jack Whittaker.

"You said you would help people," beg the callers from every state and even overseas, day and night. Widows who have had their Social Security checks stolen. People losing their houses to a sheriff's sale. People too broke to buy food for their kids' next meal. Stories so sad it's depressing to listen to them, but Whittaker can't get a word in edgewise until they get every last heart-wrenching detail out.

"I am not the one who won the money," Jack Whittaker of Princeton finally tells them when they come up for air.

Oh, and the mail. He keeps three or four trash bags of hard-luck letters in his garage.

The only thing more annoying than not winning $113 million is being the guy who people think won $113 million.

Not only do they share a name -- actually the Lotto winner's real name is Andrew "Jack" Whittaker -- but they are both in their mid-50s. They don't look alike, though. The lottery winner is a plain-talking man in a cowboy hat, while the less-famous one has been told he bears a resemblance to Bill Clinton.

The less-famous Whittaker this week has been getting about five to 10 calls a day -- the same volume he received earlier this year after the multi-millionaire Whittaker was arrested and accused of trying to hit and threaten a manager of a bar. There was also a spate of calls before that when the wealthy Whittaker, who was rich from his water and sewer business even before he won the lottery, twice became a crime victim this year. One of them occurred while he was visiting the Pink Pony strip club at Cross Lanes in July. Thieves took $545,000 in cash and cashier's checks from his car. (The manager of the club and his girlfriend were later arrested.)

But that all pales to the avalanche of calls Jack Whittaker of Princeton, W.Va., received after Jack Whittaker of Scott Depot hit the jackpot over Christmas 2002. He opted for an after-tax lump sum of $113 million and promptly pledged millions to several Church of God congregations. He also set up the Jack Whittaker Foundation to help West Virginians find jobs, buy food and receive education. He got inundated with pleas for help, as did the other Jack Whittaker. Hundreds of calls each day.

"I would hang up and it would ring," said non-rich Jack. "All day, during the night, from overseas. Lord, I don't know where from. Everyone was telling me their problems."

He said he couldn't change his phone number or become unlisted because he runs his business out of his home.

Not to sound like another bloke with a sob story for rich Jack Whittaker, but he was upset. His sister and mother-in-law were in the hospital on life support (they have since died), and the calls day and night were taking a terrible toll. He had suffered a heart attack and other health problems and was behind on his mortgage because of medical bills

One of the callers gave him the rich Jack Whittaker's number. As hard up as he was for cash, he didn't hit him up for money like everyone else. Instead he asked him to please announce during his next TV interview that he wasn't the Jack Whittaker who lived in Princeton.

He said the rich Jack Whittaker was gruff at first, but then softened. But he never heard him make an announcement on TV.

Now, he can't help but be amused by the bizarre travails of super-rich Jack Whittaker.

"I think he is a comical little thing, myself," he said. "I am not his judge. But if I were him, I wouldn't be so open about things. I would get around where people don't know me."

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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6 comments. Last comment 17 years ago by BabyJC.
Page 1 of 1
Mana's avatar - mana
Virginia Beach
United States
Member #3375
January 16, 2004
93 Posts

Ayi yi yi...

To have a name (similar) to his... ... if i could ... I'd change it .... people hitting him up for money and then finding he's not the right guy ... x.x;

... insert witty quote here ...

... My behavior and apperance betrays my age ... but I'm good enough ...
besides, people in person would still be afraid to talk to meh, even if I had millions ^^;

    fja's avatar - gnome1

    United States
    Member #91
    January 19, 2002
    16065 Posts

    Yep its gotta be hard on the guy to have a name and not have the fortune.

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

      RJOh's avatar - chipmunk
      United States
      Member #9
      March 24, 2001
      20272 Posts

      He could tell'em the check in the mail, they wouldn't get any money, but they could feel good for a week or so.  Kind'a like thinking you've won the lottery until you check your tickets and get real. 


       * you don't need to buy every combination, just the winning ones * 

      Thumbs Up       

        mayan27's avatar - Lottery-009.jpg
        United States
        Member #2426
        October 2, 2003
        84 Posts


              Hey, non rich Jack,be very careful how you moved around before you fall victim to some foolish people because of mistaken identity.Rich Jack is going around causing lot of chaos for himself.Be careful never to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.As the saying goes"A word to the wise is quiet sufficient and those with ears,let them hear".OK



          Lotto Czar's avatar - sam
          Harrisburg, Pa.
          United States
          Member #3093
          December 23, 2003
          233 Posts

          The original Jack Whitaker (not sure how he spells his name) , the famous CBS sports caster from years ago is no longer with us.  That would have made the story really interesting.


          Rich (but dumb luck ) Jack is really Andrew Jackson Whitaker, of course.  Maybe he should start using his first name.  And then the 2nd Jack would feel more comfortable.

          Just a thought.

          Not even monday yet, and yet another story.  Good job.

            BabyJC's avatar - Lottery-031.jpg

            United States
            Member #3271
            January 7, 2004
            148 Posts

            Isn't if funny how his real name is "Andrew Jackson"!  $$$