Real Life

The curse of the Lotto Millionaires: "I wish it never happened. I was much happier broke"

Drugs, divorce, murder... winning can be the start of your worst nightmare.

Garbageman Mickey Carroll was 19 years-old and wearing an electronic tag for drunk and disorderly behaviour – and didn't even have 
a bank account – when he walked in to collect his $17 million win.

He said he wouldn't be tempted into spending the lottery winnings lavishly and all he wanted to buy was a three-bedroom house near a lake where he could go fishing.

It should have been the start of a beautiful new life, yet just eight years later, the British "lotto lout" was broke and forced to ask for his job back after squandering the lot on drugs, prostitutes and partying.

Mickey Carroll, the British "lotto lout", was broke and forced to ask for his job back after squandering the lot on drugs, prostitutes and partying.
Mickey Carroll, the British "lotto lout", was broke and forced to ask for his job back after squandering the lot on drugs, prostitutes and partying.

He had to abandon his $850,000 six-bedroom dream home because of unpaid taxes.

"I could only think about three things – drugs, sex and gold," admits Michael, who says he received the first of thousands 
of death threats the day after he won, and even paid $200,000 to blackmailers.

The now 35-year-old also lost his wife Sandra, who was seven months pregnant with their daughter Brooke at the time of the win. She hated how it changed him and walked out a few years later, accusing him of cheating on her with prostitutes.

"I could only think about three things – drugs, sex and gold," admits Michael.
"I could only think about three things – drugs, sex and gold," admits Michael.

"The dealer who introduced me to crack has more of my money than I do," Michael said after he hit rock bottom.

"I gave $7 million to family and friends, but some people wanted more. Others stopped talking to me."

He's the most notorious of all the cursed lottery winners but there are plenty of others whose dream win became a nightmare, with experts saying 70 per cent 
of major winners end up broke.

Bud Post, who won $22 million in 1998 said, "I wish 
it never happened. It was a total nightmare. I was much happier when I was broke."
Bud Post, who won $22 million in 1998 said, "I wish 
it never happened. It was a total nightmare. I was much happier when I was broke."

Bud Post from Pennsylvania, US, said winning $22 million 
in 1988 ruined his life.

"I wish 
it never happened. It was a total nightmare. I was much happier when I was broke."

His brother hired a hit man to kill him in the hope of getting his hands on his millions. The murder attempt failed. Then, Bud was successfully sued by his landlord and part-time girlfriend for a third of his winnings.

He blew the rest on terrible business deals, lavish purchases and multiple marriages, eventually living on food stamps to survive. In 2006, aged 66, the seven-times-married father-of-nine died broke and estranged from most of his family.

Martyn and Kay Tott on GMTV, had a winning lotto ticket and then lost it.
Martyn and Kay Tott on GMTV, had a winning lotto ticket and then lost it.

But the lottery curse was never more apparent than in the case 
of Martyn and Kay Tott, who became known as the unluckiest couple in the UK after they won almost $7 million, only to have the authorities refuse to pay out, even though it was proven they'd had and lost the winning ticket.

"Thinking you're going to have all that money is really liberating," says Kay. "Having it taken away has the opposite effect. It draws the life from you and puts a terrible strain on your marriage. It was the cruellest torture imaginable."

Martyn tried to have the decision overturned three times in court but failed, as did his marriage due to all the stress. He said later he thought it was a good thing he didn't get his millions because 
he "could have fallen off a yacht".

Sharon blew her winnings on "big house, fancy car, designer clothes, parties, exotic trips, family and friends" and ended up "back riding the bus".
Sharon blew her winnings on "big house, fancy car, designer clothes, parties, exotic trips, family and friends" and ended up "back riding the bus".

Canadian single mum Sharon Tirabassi was living on welfare when she won $11 million in 2004, only to have to return to work part-time and move into a rental housing 10 years later.

She blew the lot on a "big house, fancy car, designer clothes, parties, exotic trips, family and friends" and ended up "back riding the bus".

Meanwhile, the family of Aussie woman Maria Devrell still feel the curse of her Oz Lotto win today. 


The 55-year-old was brutally killed after winning $5 million.

Former family friend and financial adviser Peter Kelly murdered her because he was angry at her for "frittering away her fortune" and to cover up 
that he'd lost $1 million of her winnings on bad property deals.

Luke Pittard returned to his McDonalds job after spending his winnings, but has no regrets.
Luke Pittard returned to his McDonalds job after spending his winnings, but has no regrets.

Luke Pittard from Wales returned to his poorly paid job flipping burgers at McDonald's just 18 months after he won $2.3 million and spent it on a holiday, a house and a wedding – but he's one of the few with no regrets.

"They all think I'm a bit mad but I tell them there's more to life than money," he says.

"I loved working at McDonald's before 
I became a millionaire and I'm enjoying being back there again."

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