When Billie Bob Harrell Jr. won a $31 million jackpot in the Texas Lotto, he thought it was going to solve all of his problems.
Instead, just two years later, he told his financial adviser that “winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Harrell was found dead in his home with a gunshot wound in his head shortly after.
Harrell’s story is being circulated after a hospital worker won a $758.7 million Powerball jackpot in Wednesday night’s, Aug. 23, lottery.
Before Harrell won the jackpot he struggled with low-paying jobs, moving from house to house. After finding out that he’ll receive more than a million dollars monthly, Harell thought that this was light at the end of a tunnel.
He got off to a joyful start: donating thousands of dollars to a local church and buying 480 turkeys for the poor. He took the family on a vacation to Hawaii and bought cars and houses for friends and family. He quit his job at Home Depot.
But things quickly went sour. Harell made a bad deal with a company that provides lump sums to lotto winners who are receiving monthly payouts.
The 47-year-old had to change his phone number several times as he was constantly plagued by people calling him up to demand donations.
The trouble culminated in his divorce from his wife Barbara Jean less than a year after buying the winning ticket.
On May 22, 1999, Harrell’s son found him dead in his home, shortly before he was to have dinner with his ex-wife.
Some family members doubted that Harrell could have committed suicide, but that is still the official cause of death.
Harrell isn’t the only who suffered a bad fortune after a big lottery win.
William Post III won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988. He spent two-thirds of his first $500,000 monthly payment in just two weeks.
Following the advice of his relatives, Post bought several worthless ventures, including a restaurant, a used-car lot, and an airplane.
In just three months, he was $500,000 in debt. Post eventually filed for bankruptcy and almost went to jail for shooting a gun at a bill collector.
“I was much happier when I was broke,” he told the Washington Post.
Post survived on disability payments with a mere $2.46 in his bank account. He died of illness in 2006 at the age of 66, leaving behind nine children and his seventh wife.