Just four and half years ago, Andrew Jackson "Jack" Whittaker, Jr. was the president of of a successful contracting firm called Diversified Enterprises Construction. At 55 years old, Whittaker was living a successfully comfortable American life complete with a a net worth of over one million dollars, a well rounded family, great job and healthy grandkids. On December 25, 2002, Whittaker's life changed forever when he stopped at a supermarket to fuel his Lincoln Navigator and purchased a deli breakfast sandwich and a Powerball Ticket worth US$315 million. The jackpot won by Whittaker was the highest ever in the United States at the time and Whittaker chose the cash payment option receiving a check after taxes for about US$113.4 million. Little did Whittaker know, the devastation that ticket would cause on his life.
Whittaker's first cause of action was to pledge ten percent of his winnings to Christian charities in West Virginia including several churches affiliated with the Church of God. Whittaker next donated about fourteen million dollars to create the Jack Whittaker Foundation as a non profit entity to provide food and clothing to low income families in rural areas of West Virginia. Lastly, Whittaker returned to the supermarket he purchased the ticket and bought the woman who sold him the ticket a new house and a new car as a tip.
How to loose $114 million dollars in 4 years.
His enormous new wealth, meant everyone wanted a piece of Whittaker and his legal and personal problems quickly spiraled out of control. Less than one month after winning $114million, Whittaker was arrested for drunk driving.
In August of 2003, while spending over one hundred thousand dollars at the Pink Pony strip club in Cross Lanes West Virginia, thieves stole $545,000 in cash from his car. Two strip club employees were later arrested and charged with drugging Whittaker's drinks and arranging the robbery, however the money was never recovered.
In January of 2004, thieves again broke into his car and stole over $200,000 in cash. This cash was later recovered. Next Whittaker was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault after allegedly threatening the life of a bar manager. This suit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. A couple of months later, Whittaker was sued for allegedly groping a woman at a dog racetrack. Again, he settled this suit out of court for an undisclosed amount. When interviewed about his legal run ins around this time Whittaker replied, "It doesn't bother me because I can tell everyone to kiss off!"
Irresponsibility and Personal Problems Destroy Whittaker
In September of 2003, Jesse Tribble, a 17 year old friend of Brandi Bragg, Whittaker's granddaughter was found dead in Whittaker's West Virginia home. The autopsy determined that Bragg died of a drug overdose. Bragg's family would sue Whittaker for wrongful death and that case discussed below was also settled for a large monetary amount.
Shortly after the Tribble death, Whittaker's granddaughter, Brandi Bragg was found dead on December 20, 2004. Brandi had been missing for several weeks and was found under a tarpaulin near her boyfriend's home. During a hearing on October 11, 2005, a disheveled Whittaker berated law enforcement agencies for their fixation on him and demanded that they solve his granddaughters death.
In 2006, Whittaker was sued by Caesers Atlantic City casino. Whittaker promptly countersued. Caesers claims that Whittaker bounced $1.5 million in checks that were supposed to cover his gambling losses. Whittaker claimed that he should be credited due to a slot machine he developed for them and that Caesers owes him money.
In January of 2007, Whittaker came forward to the police alleging that thieves had stole the remainder of his fortune. He stated that thieves, in a coordinated plan had cashed 12 checks effectively emptying his bank account. Whittaker did not find out about the theft until Kitti French who had had settle with earlier filed an additional claim against Whittaker for non-payment.
To top it all off, on March 26, 2007, Whittaker was forced to settle a wrongful death civil suit for the death of Jessie Tribble, his granddaughters ex-boyfriend who had died 3 years before. Under questioning Whittaker admitted providing his deceased granddaughter with a $2100 per week allowance and that he hardly watched the child even though she was in his custody. A multi-million dollar deal was immediately struck after this testimony.
Whittaker now claims to be struggling financially and barely able to make ends meet with the payouts from previous lawsuits. He has frequently stated that no amount of money lent to friends and family was ever enough and that his experiences with the lottery destroyed his life. He states that if he could do it all over again, he would have just filled up his tank, bought a sandwich and gone on his merry way.
The top four winners in United States Lottery history are as follows:
1. $365 million
On February 18, 2006, the jackpot worth $365 million was won by a single ticket sold in Lincoln, Nebraska. That single ticket was shared by eight meat plant workers.
2. $340 million
A grand prize won on October 19, 2005 worth $340 million was awarded to the West family in Jacksonville, Oregon. The family won less than two months after the rules were changed to promote larger payouts. Steve West, who purchased the ticket, put in $20 for tickets, along with another $20 from his in-laws. The family planned to split the prize among themselves.
3. $314 million
Prior to the $340 million winner, Jack Whittaker of West Virginia was the claimant to the biggest jackpot. He won $314 million on Christmas Day, 2002.
3. $295 million
On July 29, 1998, a jackpot worth $295 million was won by 13 machinists. This held the world record for the largest jackpot for two years.