Saturday, 13 October 2007

Jack Whittaker - another unlucky lottery winner

Jack Whittaker is a businessman who became famous when he won US$315 million in the Powerball multi-state lottery. At the time it was the largest jackpot ever won by a single winning ticket in the history of American lottery. He has garnered even more publicity since his win due to several well-publicized brushes with the law as well as personal tragedies.

Whittaker purchased the winning Powerball ticket at a supermarket in Hurricane, West Virginia, where he had stopped for a deli breakfast sandwich and to get fuel for his car.
The jackpot that day was a US$314.9 million annuity or US$170 million cash. Whittaker chose the cash payment option and received a check for approximately US$93 million after tax withholdings.

He donated $14 million to establish the Jack Whittaker Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides food and clothing to low-income families in rural West Virginia, pledged 10% of his winnings to Christian charities. Furthermore, he tipped the woman who sold him the winning ticket by buying her a house and a new car.

The pressures of his new wealth also caused numerous problems. Whittaker has been arrested several times and has had numerous well-publicized domestic problems.

Finally, he was arrested for drunk driving. If convicted, he could face up to 6 months in jail.

In August,2003 thieves broke into his car near a strip club in Cross Lanes, West Virginia. The thieves went away with $545,000 in cash

In January, 2004, thieves once again broke into his car, this time making off with an estimated $200,000 in cash.

In September 2003, Jesse Tribble, a 17-year-old friend of Jack's granddaughter Brandi Bragg, was found dead in Whittaker's home in Teays Valley, West Virginia. A coroner's report indicated that he died of a drug overdose. Several months later, on December 20, 2004, Brandi, 17, was found dead after a drug overdose. After she had been missing for several weeks, her body was discovered lying under a tarpaulin near her boyfriend's home.

Whittaker is also being sued by Caesars Atlantic City casino for bouncing $1.5 million worth of checks to cover gambling losses. Whittaker is also countersuing them, claiming that his losses were supposed to be credited due to a slot machine he developed and that they in fact owe him money

In January, 2007, a legal complaint against Whittaker alleged that Whittaker claimed that on September 11, 2006 thieves took all of his money. The robbers, according to the account, went to 12 branches of the National City Bank and cashed 12 checks. The incident came to light because Whittaker had not been paying money to a woman who had previously sued him. Kitti French filed the complaint earlier in the week, requesting court costs and money from Whittaker.

On March 26, 2007, Jack Whittaker settled a wrongful death civil suit. The unexpected deal came not long after Whittaker was questioned about whether his money and alleged lack of supervision contributed to the death of 18-year-old Jessie Tribble. Whittaker defended providing his granddaughter, Brandi Bragg, with a $2100-per-week allowance. James Tribble alleges an un-parented Bragg funded the drug purchase that let his 18-year-old son Jessie die of a drug overdose in Whittaker's house. Following Whittaker's testimony, a deal was reached. James Tribble said there was no winner in the suit after the settlement was reported. Earlier Christie Tribble testified that she gave her son $20 just before he died, but thought he was joking about buying drugs.

Story Sources:
Lottery Winner: Thieves "Got All My Money", CBS News
Rich Man, Poor Man, Washington Post
One wild ride for jackpot winner, USA TODAY

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