Whittaker Says He Wishes He Hadn't Won the Jackpot
July 1, 2007
Jack Whittaker says his life became a nightmare after he won a nearly $315 million jackpot, a prize that cost him his family and made him a target for lawsuits, thieves and people looking for easy money. "It certainly has been a curse to me," "I don't know where it will end but I don't like Jack Whittaker. I don't like the hard heart I've got. I just don't like what I've become," he said.
Whittaker won the Powerball jackpot on Christmas 2002 and took his winnings in a lump sum of $113 million after taxes, according to the Lottery Commission. At the time it was the largest undivided lottery prize in U.S. history.
"I Just Don't Like What I've Become"
Since then, more than 400 legal claims have been filed against him or his companies, said Whittaker, who is a contractor. "Everybody wants something for nothing," he said.
Lawsuits aren't the only problems that Whittaker has faced. He and his wife are getting a divorce; he has been ordered to undergo rehab after being arrested on drunken driving charges; and his vehicles and business have been broken into.
As the problems escalated, Whittaker said he began drinking to escape. "I just couldn't tolerate what was happening to me anymore. I would fly off the handle. You know, if somebody wanted to fight me, I'd fight them, I didn't care," he said.
The worst came in 2004, when his beloved 17-year-old grand-daughter Brandi Bragg died. The cause of death was listed as unknown but Whittaker----who showered her with money, gifts and cars----said he believes the money played a role.
"My grand-daughter's dead, probably because of the money," Whittaker said. Brandi had a drug problem that she could not shake, despite several attempts at rehabilitation, he said. "She told me one time, she said, "Paw-Paw, all I care about is drugs. It broke my heart," he said.
Whittaker recently settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the father of a teenager who died after a drug overdose at his Putnam County home in 2004. Terms of the settlement were not released. Whittaker was not home at the time and no criminal charges were filed.
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