The Moving Finger of WhoWunIt
June 17, 2021 3:05 PM   Subscribe

Who Won? Mystery in Small Town After $731M Powerball Win "Sometime in late January, someone bought a Powerball lottery ticket at the Coney Market, and that ticket’s six numbers won the big one — $731 million, the biggest jackpot ever in Maryland and the fifth-richest payout in U.S. history. That someone lives in Lonaconing, according to the mayor and the owner of the market. But because Maryland is one of seven states that allows lottery winners to remain anonymous, and because the winner is no fool, the identity of that someone isn’t public."

An anonymous group calling themselves the "Power Pack" won. Various people are being accused of winning the money and then denying it. Gold diggers abound. Locals are having their purchases scrutinized.

"The winner can’t hide forever, Ravenscroft figures. Win millions, and you’re going to want to spend some of it. Then the pressure from friends and family and neighbors and gold diggers will become impossible.
“We’ll find out who the winners are,” the shopkeeper says, “when they quietly move away.”


(note: original article from Washington Post, this is a US News link printing the same article.)
posted by jenfullmoon (84 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
Keep your family close and lottery ring closer.
posted by clavdivs at 3:08 PM on June 17 [17 favorites]


Winning the lottery was probably a lot more fun before Google existed.
posted by theodolite at 3:11 PM on June 17 [30 favorites]


Lonaconing has an estimated population of 1,107. It seems like even a half-competent private investigator could find the winners.

Brb, writing a noir novel.

Also, is it just the wrong day for me to read this story, or is it depressing as hell?
posted by box at 3:12 PM on June 17 [31 favorites]


My headcanon is that all of Lonaconing is the Power Pack and the rest of us will never know. But sometimes, passers through who stop for gas notice how cheerful everyone is. As though they were unafraid.
posted by clew at 3:18 PM on June 17 [71 favorites]


Uff da:

“We love the Lord,” Cooper said, “and He sends us what we need. And President Trump sent us cheese and milk and hot dogs — the Democrat just sends us vegetables. President Trump put a letter in each one of these boxes saying he’s thinking of us. People kept those notes from President Trump, put them up on their walls. That’s who people depend on, not the Powerball winner.”
posted by bassooner at 3:19 PM on June 17 [24 favorites]


Also, is it just the wrong day for me to read this story, or is it depressing as hell?

It's depressing as hell.
posted by thivaia at 3:20 PM on June 17 [24 favorites]


It’s probably the person who starts eating Kraft dinners with the fancy dijon ketchups.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:33 PM on June 17 [66 favorites]


From the article:
But it should, the mayor says, because he knows that Miller — who did score $10,000 last year on a scratch-off lottery ticket that he bought at Coney Market — cannot be the big winner.

The proof: On the May afternoon when the winner traveled to Baltimore to claim the award, “Wilbur was with me all that afternoon,” Coburn said. “He didn’t leave town. He’s not the guy.”
But wait, earlier in the article we learn:
The golden ticket was purchased in January, and the winner — winners, actually; it’s a group of unknown size that calls itself the “Power Pack” — claimed the award in late May.
There's no reason that Wilbur himself had to go to Baltimore if it was a group purchase, is there? In which case, this can't be taken as any evidence that Wilbur is not one of the winners.

Meanwhile, I think this is probably the best lead:
He has a theory about the winner’s identity, but he’s not naming names. The person he suspects used to come into the shop to buy lottery tickets ahead of every drawing. The person hasn’t been back since the big one.
Yeah, it's this person for sure, whoever they are. People are creatures of habit.
posted by mhum at 3:33 PM on June 17 [14 favorites]


And President Trump sent us cheese and milk and hot dogs — the Democrat just sends us vegetables.

In a broken-clock way, this points out a big problem with public perceptions.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:40 PM on June 17 [32 favorites]


People from thousands of miles away have sent money in envelopes asking the market staff to send them lottery tickets from the lucky shop
Hmm. This is entirely the opposite of my grandparents' strategy, which assumed that nature would spread out the wins and avoid repeating either shops or numbers. Both are nonsense, assuming the game is fair. But, I think I understand my grandparents' schema a lot better than this one. With sparse winners, the outcome is almost indistinguishable from reality. It doesn't take many news broadcasts to see that that lottery winners don't cluster.

I actually think an argument can be made that playing the lottery is an entirely rational choice, if we forget some of the textbook assumptions about how people value money and experiences. But, then you talk to people about how they make specific decisions with regard to the lottery. . .
posted by eotvos at 3:48 PM on June 17 [4 favorites]


You couldn’t pay me to win a lottery.
posted by non canadian guy at 3:49 PM on June 17 [14 favorites]


Done!
posted by y2karl at 3:54 PM on June 17 [15 favorites]


I'd be willing to suffer through a lottery win.
posted by maxwelton at 3:57 PM on June 17 [20 favorites]


You couldn’t pay me to win a lottery.

I have previously offered, and will here & now offer again my services as a professional prize winner.

For 10% of your winnings I will pretend to be you at any/all public events that may be required in your jurisdiction. You will, of course, have previously set up a blind trust to retain your prize, and you may require whatever lawyerly review you deem fit prior to engaging my services.

For 15% I will act outrageously (to draw further attention away from you and your quiet life of contemplation). Services include the possibility of me being utterly hammered at the press conference, rocking up to the press conference with duly-paid exotic dancers and a fifth of Scotch, potentially removing articles of clothing (limited by local indecency laws), behaving like a stereotyped biker, behaving like "a snooty european" or such other behaviors as you may prefer.
posted by aramaic at 3:57 PM on June 17 [113 favorites]


They now have scratch-off tickets in NC that cost $25. I think I saw a $30 one. I find this to be heartbreaking, although of course I have squandered an appalling amount of money in my life myself, especially when I smoked. But for pity's sake, if you are going to gamble with that kind of money on the regular, save it up and at least take a bus trip to a casino, so that you can have a fun little vacation as you lose it. And the odds are better for you even playing slot machines, I think.
posted by thelonius at 3:58 PM on June 17 [9 favorites]


Roy Batty was right about the dystopian future we're in: you can't win, if you don't play.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:14 PM on June 17 [3 favorites]


I just wanted one of those Nintendo Switches they were giving away for the vaccine lottery. No dice so far, and only two weeks left, I think.
posted by deadaluspark at 4:15 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


The next fight is going to be over the movie rights.
posted by Flashman at 4:24 PM on June 17


The winner is going to be the serial killer. They will bump off everyone in town till there is only one survivor and they get arrested. But the real killer will have faked their death in the gas main explosion that got victims #136-#220. They will get to the last piece of evidence just before the honest cop does.
posted by biffa at 4:43 PM on June 17 [4 favorites]


Most likely theory Is that Lachy Sr misplaced the ticket while helping the local quirky copper with something. It’s for the best, really.
posted by zamboni at 4:49 PM on June 17 [3 favorites]


But the real killer will have faked their death in the gas main explosion that got victims #136-#220. They will get to the last piece of evidence just before the honest cop does.

Agatha Christie meets Shirley Jackson! I like it — I'll have my people talk to your people.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:58 PM on June 17 [4 favorites]


And President Trump sent us cheese and milk and hot dogs — the Democrat just sends us vegetables.

Maybe it's just me but the parallel to the story of Daniel is amazingly funny.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:04 PM on June 17 [34 favorites]


Yeah, it's this person for sure, whoever they are. People are creatures of habit.

I'm guessing that person just died.

My parents were big lottery players and won nice prizes multiple times, though never the jackpot. Without exception their winning weeks encouraged them to up their game next time, not stop buying tickets.

The article also says that the winner chose the random machine-generated option. In my experience, serious "every week" lottery players do not do that. They choose their numbers, goddamnit!

Surprised the article doesn't mention that it could have been bought by someone just passing through town, no?
posted by dobbs at 5:05 PM on June 17 [7 favorites]


I don’t play the lottery. I’m just waiting for the lightening strike as the odds on that are much better.
posted by njohnson23 at 5:10 PM on June 17 [4 favorites]


I'm guessing that person just died.

But not before making me cry by singing a beautifully moving song about their life's struggles.

(That link is a spoiler, but telling you what it's a spoiler for is, in and of itself, a spoiler, so let's just say if there are any movies out right now you want to see but haven't, just don't click.)
posted by lunasol at 5:11 PM on June 17 [3 favorites]


Surprised the article doesn't mention that it could have been bought by someone just passing through town, no?

Despite the cheeses and meats largesse, it was probably not Trump. He owes the mob too much money to be allowed not to claim that prize.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:13 PM on June 17 [4 favorites]


In my experience, serious "every week" lottery players do not do that. They choose their numbers, goddamnit!

When I used to buy lottery tickets I always took the random numbers, because I was convinced that with my luck (I never once won a cent), if I had “numbers” the one week I forgot to play would be the week they drew the damn things.

Haven’t played in years.
posted by fimbulvetr at 5:19 PM on June 17 [4 favorites]


Wait. Not a single Waking Ned Divine reference yet? What is metafilter coming to?
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 5:30 PM on June 17 [14 favorites]


…Maryland is one of seven states that allows lottery winners to remain anonymous…

Whaaaa? Allows them to remain anonymous??? There’s no way in hell I’d want my name made public if I hit a jackpot like that.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:30 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


> dobbs: "I'm guessing that person just died."

The town seems small enough that I would imagine that the shopowner would surely know if a regular customer had died.

The article also says that the winner chose the random machine-generated option. In my experience, serious "every week" lottery players do not do that. They choose their numbers, goddamnit!

I agree that this is true in general... but I've also known some lotto players who will supplement their usual picks with random machine picks when the jackpots become large enough.
posted by mhum at 5:32 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who has a knack for winning the lottery (in smaller amounts) and we've had the conversation about how it's going to go if she gets the big one because our state publicizes when you win, no choice, and how all of her relatives will hit her up for money even MORE than they already do.

Coincidentally, or not, I've never actually gotten around to playing the lottery.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:44 PM on June 17


And President Trump sent us cheese and milk and hot dogs

the fuck? With braised turnips like this I'm not surprised they're not invited to the space jacuzzi party.
posted by adept256 at 5:51 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


> braised turnips

?
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:17 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


This is totally a Twilight Zone episode waiting to happen...
posted by Windopaene at 6:29 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


"I actually think an argument can be made that playing the lottery is an entirely rational choice, if we forget some of the textbook assumptions about how people value money and experiences."

I am in the office pool. I do not expect to win, ever. I play for two reasons:
1. To be a team player.
2. I once worked with a guy who didn't join the pool, and was left behind when the others won. I saw him trudge into work every day, having to work for the people who won and left. I refuse to be the one who gets left behind. Playing the lottery by joining the pool is simply a form of insurance.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:58 PM on June 17 [31 favorites]


I just wanted one of those Nintendo Switches ...

All I wanted was a Pepsi.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:59 PM on June 17 [8 favorites]


The reason why so few localities allow winners to remain anonymous is to avoid accusations that the fix is in. If the winner can remain secret, then that makes it a lot easier for those with the ability to do so to fix the lottery. In fact, those very rules helped catch one of the last big lotto cheats:
Tipton admitted in court that he provided cohorts with the winning numbers for jackpots in Colorado in 2005, Wisconsin in December of 2007, Kansas in December of 2010 and Oklahoma in 2011.

The group, which included Tipton’s brother Tommy Tipton and a friend, Texas businessman Robert Rhodes, also attempted to collect a $16.5 million Hot Lotto ticket in December 2010 in Iowa, but Iowa lottery officials refused to pay it because the men tried to cash it anonymously. Iowa rules require the buyer and owner of the ticket to be made public.
Riveting piece on how the scandal was unraveled here.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:08 PM on June 17 [16 favorites]


I suspect it's the owner of the local cafe who also sings in the Jazzagals.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:17 PM on June 17 [39 favorites]


If I ever win big, it’s not like I’m going to start answering the phone more than I do now and hopefully I can afford a junkyard dog lawyer.
posted by JustSayNoDawg at 7:26 PM on June 17


There’s no way in hell I’d want my name made public if I hit a jackpot like that.

Claim the proceeds through a trust.

And, if the winner is smart, they'll quietly move away, so that they don't end up like Jack Whittaker and his family. Cyndi Lauper was right.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:41 PM on June 17 [5 favorites]


Yes, a trust is the way to go, though aramaic's offer is appealing. People get death threats, have to worry about kidnapping, all sorts of ugliness. I buy the occasional ticket, it would be so fun to have the money to do cool stuff, and I have a family member with a disability who deserves whatever I could give him. A lawyer I know set up a trust for a couple that won a modest several million, put it in trust and didn't tell anybody; that's the way. Not to worry about the kids' educations, paying the mortgage, being bale to donate meaningfully. I'm not attracted to obvious wealth and status, but money is so convenient.
posted by theora55 at 8:17 PM on June 17 [12 favorites]


I don’t play the lottery. I’m just waiting for the lightening strike as the odds on that are much better.

And yet, you're playing with lightning every time you step out of your house.
posted by hippybear at 8:18 PM on June 17 [5 favorites]


One of my friends plays the lottery pool where he works. He told me in detail how one guy organises the pool with a series of spreadsheets and mailing lists. He limits the pool to 20 active players, and maintains a waiting list for anyone who wants to join if an active player leaves. He has been running the pool for 25 or so years. It is interesting that in 25 years times 20 players = 500 person years, they have never once won the jackpot.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:33 PM on June 17 [6 favorites]


When I win the lottery, I'm going to buy Post 306 American Legion, and paint it red with 5 gold stars!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:40 PM on June 17 [5 favorites]


The local weed joint rigs it's Friday buy spin wheel. Like the bent water gun carnival game you adapt to finally roll your hand just past *Iighter to a free pre-roll.
posted by clavdivs at 9:07 PM on June 17 [3 favorites]


This is totally a Twilight Zone episode waiting to happen...

You're late. The gremlin was tearing up the motor cowling before the plane rolled off the factory assembly line.
posted by y2karl at 9:21 PM on June 17


If you buy a hundred tickets for each drawing - twice a week - you can expect to win a Powerball jackpot about once every 28,000 years.
posted by Hatashran at 9:22 PM on June 17 [8 favorites]


"President Trump sent us cheese and milk and hot dogs — the Democrat just sends us vegetables. President Trump put a letter in each one of these boxes saying he’s thinking of us."

Does anyone know what they're talking about? Is there some basis in reality for this?
posted by mikeand1 at 9:50 PM on June 17 [8 favorites]


The only thing that I can think of is the commodity surplus distribution program, and what gets distributed every month depends entirely on what the government has a surplus of that month. The idea that some people put a form letter from 45's administration on their walls, as if he were writing to them personally, is just incredibly sad.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:59 PM on June 17 [21 favorites]


The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 set federal standards for school lunch nutrition. The fuckwit got rid of it. The moron here is celebrating schools being allowed to poison children again.

Then the egomaniac made sure that last year's pandemic stimulus cheques had his name on it. Not so keen on putting his name down as cause of death on the 600000 death certificates though.

The poor chump here has been enbubbled by fox news.
posted by adept256 at 10:02 PM on June 17 [13 favorites]


Conrad Cornelius, that piece made me realize how rarely I read an article that's clearly and well written these days.
posted by Sterros at 11:08 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


No, there is a basis in reality for it. In 2020, Trump used a chunk of COVID relief money to fund a Farmers to Families Food Box program that connected farmers' surplus food (not going to restaurant distributors during lockdown) to food banks. It was like the existing surplus commodities program but did fruits, veggies, meats, and dairy all in one box.

Intent was both emergency food aid and farm subsidies. It was decent but the participating distributors were largely overpaid and there was almost certainly some grifting going on. There was a signed letter from Trump included in the boxes in the run-up to the election.

The program wound down recently, but the USDA has launched a similar program focused on fresh produce. (More info)
posted by bassooner at 11:29 PM on June 17 [26 favorites]


serious "every week" lottery players

The more you play, the better you get...
posted by Cardinal Fang at 12:34 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


There’s currently a big jackpot on the go here in Ontario and a few nights ago some friends asked me if I wanted to go in on some tickets as a group. I passed because it definitely seems like a “this would actually fuck up my life” amount of money. Enough to retire, that’s all I want.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:49 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Intent was both emergency food aid and farm subsidies.

I got one of those boxes, why I don't know since I'm above the poverty line. It was full of terrible food - over-sweetened yogurt, extremely processed foods, hot dogs, etc. NO fresh food or veggies. I ended up tossing the majority of it, including most of the milk (I can rarely finish a pint before it goes bad, let alone a gallon).
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:59 AM on June 18 [3 favorites]


NO fresh food or veggies.

I take that back, there was a bag of very bland apples and a few potatoes.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:00 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


For once I’d love to read a story about a lottery win that made someone’s life totally awesome.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:09 AM on June 18 [5 favorites]


We probably don't see such stories because the sort of people who have that awesome post-win life are specifically the ones who carefully avoid doing anything to become famous/notorious in the first place.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:26 AM on June 18 [9 favorites]


So the government would pay the farmers for the food and ship it in boxes directly to the people? Gosh, sounds a lot like SoCiaLisM!!

Honestly, the Biden Admin should have improved and expanded it instead of winding it down. Sounds like the program could use some tweaking, but it was popular, and the govt spends a lot more money on far worse things.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:31 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


Every time I see a story about a single winner of a big lottery, I think of this, which is an utterly predictable and yet absolutely harrowing story of how that kind of money can just destroy a family. It's a terrific, beautifully reported and written and painful read. From 2005 but reprinted in 2018.
posted by martin q blank at 10:57 AM on June 18


mikeand1, the Biden Admin did improve and expand it -- by re-doing the entire biased, corruption-riddled program:

Trump’s Food Aid Program Gives Little Funding to the Northeast, Where Coronavirus Hit Hardest (Pro Publica May 22, 2020) New York and New England have the most COVID-19 cases but received the second-lowest funding of any region. Maine can’t get any shipments because none of the selected contractors serve the state.
Lawmakers are asking why some federal contractors in Trump’s food aid program apparently lack qualifications to deliver the goods. Companies hired a consultant to tell positive stories. (Pro Publica, June 2, 2020)
Clyburn Launches Investigation On Reported Mismanagement In USDA Pandemic Food Assistance Program (House.gov, Aug 24, 2020)
How Trump's Food Box Initiative Overpaid And Underdelivered (NPR, September 3, 2020)

April 2021: USDA Announces New Food Box Program to Replace the Farmers to Family Program.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:14 AM on June 18 [14 favorites]


The idea that some people put a form letter from 45's administration on their walls, as if he were writing to them personally, is just incredibly sad.

Would it still be "incredibly sad" if the form letter had come from 44? Or from 46 or 42? I'm guessing it wouldn't be.
posted by cinchona at 1:23 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Would it still be "incredibly sad" if the form letter had come from 44? Or from 46 or 42? I'm guessing it wouldn't be.

Considering that 45, from his lap of luxury, was playing the poor and ignorant for fools, no, it likely wouldn't be as sad. I imagine Don's actual letter should have read, "Dear poverty-riddled and under-informed Americans, poisoned by a corporate propaganda machine that preys on your faith and patriotism, rally to me to enact greater tax cuts for millionaires. It'll trickle down one day, I promise."
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 1:32 PM on June 18 [6 favorites]


Someone purchased a winning $100,000 ticket from a nearby convenient mart in December. They haven't claimed it and today is the last day before it defaults to $0.

It helps me go to sleep at nights, as I task my brain with creating new scenarios of "why."
posted by mightshould at 1:53 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]


I once heard that your odds of winning the lottery are so bad, your odds of finding a winning ticket laying in the street are the same as buying a ticket. That being said, I do buy scratchers as a holiday gift, and buy a powerball/megamillions ticket every so often.

A old friend of my uncle won a $1 million lottery sometime in the early 80's, and apparently did so well not F-ing up himself, that state lottery actually started using him to help counsel new ones on how not to f everything up.
posted by CostcoCultist at 2:46 PM on June 18 [4 favorites]


Someone purchased a winning $100,000 ticket from a nearby convenient mart in December. They haven't claimed it and today is the last day before it defaults to $0.
It helps me go to sleep at nights, as I task my brain with creating new scenarios of "why."


I bet they lost it.

I do think it's funny how people go crazy for lotto tickets in gift exchange games.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:29 PM on June 18


Also, is it just the wrong day for me to read this story, or is it depressing as hell?

I didn't find it that depressing. If you're looking for a depressing Washington Post article about a lottery winner in the poor rural region northwest of the DC metro area, try this one (from 2005) on for size: He won Powerball’s $314 million jackpot. It ruined his life. However depressing you're expecting, multiply it by about 314 million.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:16 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]


Jesus, that guy Jack Whittaker was already worth $17 million when he won the jackpot!
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:28 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


HGTV has a show called My Lottery Dream Home hosted by David Bromstead that is basically House Hunters with a twist. A lot of the people won modest amounts and are buying their first homes or trying to retire near family. Bromstead treats them very tenderly.
posted by carmicha at 11:14 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


I had a friend who won a miillion back in the day when it was a lot of money. He took the annuity. It pretty much ruined his life because of people hitting on him. The greed in that story is horrific but it isn't just because people are poor. I have observed how many family deaths result in nasty behavior over money and possessions.

I still buy a ticket for every drawing because I like planning where I am going to buy a weekend home and what charities I'm going to fund when I win. Gives me a lot of joy.

In the meantime I have been putting too much of my paycheck in a 401(k) and living catastrophically cheap in order to pay off any loans since I was in my early 40s.

Guess which strategy works better for me. The only problem is habits die hard and I worry about money all the time.
posted by Peach at 6:57 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


“How depressing can an article about a Powerball winner be, really?” I thought to myself. Dang. I couldn’t finish it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:48 AM on June 19 [1 favorite]


The person in that article who compared Whittaker and the lottery to Gollum and his Precious was shockingly astute.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:54 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Speaking for myself, I think it is sad that people would put mass-printed form letters from any president intended as marketing up on their walls. Although maybe it made them feel special, which is why those forms are up on their walls. It pains me that Trump was able to play on that desire so astutely.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:24 PM on June 19 [2 favorites]


“How depressing can an article about a Powerball winner be, really?” I thought to myself. Dang. I couldn’t finish it.

I am morbidly curious sometimes, so I read the entire article and then the wikipedia article about Whittaker. Whittaker's life actually got even worse after the article was written. I guess my imagination is kind of limited, because if you asked me yesterday about the downside of winning a huge lottery, I never would have predicted it to be that dark.
posted by creepygirl at 4:38 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


I worked for a state lottery about 20 years ago. Whenever a big winner came to the office, all us employees would go out to the lobby to clap for them.

One day, rumor had it that the winner was “too poor to have a bank account” (which seemed like a shitty stereotype to me), but it was true that the state police had to escort them from the office to a bank in order to create an account and deposit the check. Don’t remember exactly what the jackpot was — I think over a million. I hope things worked out well for them.

Another time, IIRC somebody won a motorcycle and had to come to the office to pick it up. The winner took it on a spin around the parking lot with his spouse on the back and judging by the looks on their faces, it was like the best day of their lives.
posted by liet at 5:42 PM on June 19 [5 favorites]


When I was growing up a local couple won the PA Lottery. 46 million I think it was. They soon after split up. He built a huge mansion, she had her parents house upgraded. I can't ever think of their names as we just called them the 'Millionaires'
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 8:04 PM on June 19


The Millionaire, and his (ex)Wife
posted by hippybear at 9:17 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


I guess my imagination is kind of limited, because if you asked me yesterday about the downside of winning a huge lottery, I never would have predicted it to be that dark.

I feel like a lot of the Coen Brothers' filmography can be seen as essentially "what if you were unlucky enough to win the lottery". People manage to have bad luck and tragic lives when they're poor, so why not when they're unexpectedly wildly rich too? But also I agree that the reason we don't hear about the people who win money and then have happy lives is there's no story there. Person Gets Lucky, Has Stable And Comfortable Life Thereafter is as pitches go pretty much DOA when it hits an editor's desk.
posted by cortex at 9:29 PM on June 19 [4 favorites]


There's a reddit comment that gets cited a lot when hard-luck lottery stories come up, and it cites a number of stories (including Whittaker's) about how the lottery ruins people's lives. One thing that I noticed, though, was that most of those stories were from winners who won before 1993. I'm not sure if there was something that year that made a difference, but it's possible that winners started realizing that they really needed to hire lawyers immediately--in fact, that was the advice given by the winners of a $40 million Illinois Lotto jackpot in 1984 (that was considered tall tickets in the days before multi-state lotteries started producing 9- and occasionally 10-figure jackpots). So, yeah, nobody wants to read or talk about the Lifestyles of the Rich and Not-So-Famous.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:46 PM on June 20


I play lotteries but to save money I only buy used tickets.
posted by glonous keming at 7:50 AM on June 21 [3 favorites]


For once I’d love to read a story about a lottery win that made someone’s life totally awesome.

This is actually the vast majority of lotto winners. The failures, kidnappings, and personal bankruptcies are the rare cases. The reason it seems to slanted is that the ones wronged by the lotto have a story to tell, either to make money or just because it's kind of interesting. The ones who have no story to tell don't want the publicity.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:05 AM on June 21


Related: You just won a 656 Million Dollar Lottery. What do you do now? (insightful comments on Reddit)
posted by blueberry at 12:36 PM on June 22


On a related note: $56M Mega Millions Winner Aware He Won, But Hasn't Come Forward: Crestwood Citgo owner says the man ran his Mega Millions​ ticket through the machine, but ran out of the store and hasn't been back since.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:36 PM on June 23


If you enjoy stories of awful lottery winner outcomes, the Dollop podcast on William Post is worth a listen. It's funny. It's not heartening.

Personally, if I won $700M, I'd have plane tickets and a bought citizenship in a new country and letters promising a few millions each to family and friends in the mail before dawn. What comes next is less clear.
posted by eotvos at 7:22 AM on June 24 [1 favorite]


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