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What lottery winner died of sepsis?

Winning the lottery can be an exhilarating and life-changing experience. However, for some lottery winners, a jackpot win has also led to tragic outcomes. In recent years, there have been several notable cases of lottery winners dying prematurely after coming into sudden wealth.

The Case of William Post

One infamous case is that of William “Bud” Post, who won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988. At the time, it was the largest single lottery prize ever won by an individual in the U.S. However, Post’s newfound fortune quickly took a disastrous turn.

Within a year of his lottery win, Post was $1 million in debt. His brother reportedly hired a hitman to try to kill him and get his share of the winnings. Post sunk money into various family members’ failed business ideas. He also spent lavishly on mansions, cars, and even a plane despite not having a pilot’s license.

According to reports, by the time Post died at age 66 in 2006, he was living on a $450 monthly disability check and food stamps. The cause of death was listed as sepsis, which is the body’s extreme response to an infection. It can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.

Bad Investments and Bankruptcy

So how did Post go from millionaire to near-pennilessness and illness? Much of it traces back to poor financial management and advisors who took advantage of Post’s lack of experience.

For starters, Post entrusted $300,000 to his landlady as an investment in a restaurant she planned to open. The restaurant never materialized. He also spent $1 million buying a used airplane despite not knowing how to pilot it. The plane quickly became unusable.

Post poured money into a friend’s oil well investment, a car museum that never opened, gifts for acquaintances, and more. “I was a soft touch,” Post admitted in an interview before his death.

Within 3 years of his lottery win, Post had already blown through $13 million. By then, he was $1 million in debt and eventually had to declare bankruptcy. Post blamed his money manager for leading him astray with bad investments. However, Post had also ignored early warnings from financial experts to be more conservative with his windfall.

A Downward Spiral

As Post’s financial situation spiraled, his personal life followed suit. His wife left him shortly after the lottery win. Family members came asking for handouts he could no longer afford. He became paranoid about people trying to get his money, including his own siblings.

In one incident, Post was arrested for firing a gun at a debt collector who had gone to his property. He eventually lost his mansion to foreclosure and moved into a hanger at the airport where he kept his now inactive plane.

By the end, Post was surviving on Social Security payments and meager royalty checks from a country song inspired by his lottery “curse.” He told the Washington Post in 2002 that he wished he had torn up the winning ticket. “I was happier when I was broke,” he admitted.

Post’s case became one of the most startling lottery cautionary tales. It highlighted how ill-prepared some winners are to handle major wealth. It also showcased the importance of careful financial planning and avoiding freeloaders after a jackpot win.

The Curse Returns? The Case of David Lee Edwards

In an eerie twist of fate, another jackpot winner would die of sepsis over a decade after Post’s demise. David Lee Edwards won $27 million in the Powerball lottery in 2001. Originally from the small town of Ashland, Kentucky, Edwards was living in Florida when he hit the jackpot.

Edwards opted for the $27 million lump sum payout. After taxes, he took home around $15 million. He immediately embarked on a spending spree, buying homes, cars, and gifts for family and friends. He also gave extensively to charity.

However, within 5 years, Edwards had spent his entire fortune. Poor investments and a costly divorce settlement were among the reasons Edwards burned through his winnings so rapidly. By the time he died at age 58 in 2013, Edwards was living in hospice care.

The official cause of death was listed as sepsis and a related lung infection. Reports indicated Edwards had been battling healthcare-acquired infections for months leading up to his death. His devastated family said Edwards was penniless by the end after his lottery riches disappeared so quickly.

Lessons Learned?

The similar tales of big lottery winners like Post and Edwards succumbing to sepsis while penniless have startled the public. They’ve also prompted discussions on how lottery winners can avoid similar fates.

Experts emphasize taking time before claiming a prize to carefully plan with financial advisors and tax attorneys. Setting up trusts and making anonymous claims can help protect lottery winners’ identities and winnings.

Winners are also advised to live modestly, invest wisely, and limit gifts to family and friends. Following such advice could prevent lottery winners like Post and Edwards from ending up dead broke after becoming overnight millionaires.

Sadly, their stories highlight that major lottery wins aren’t always fortuitous. Without the right preparation, a jackpot can quickly turn from a dream to a nightmare.

Other Notable Cases of Lottery Winners Meeting Untimely Ends

While Post and Edwards represent two of the most dramatic cases, they aren’t the only lottery winners to meet tragic fates after coming into sudden wealth. Here are a few other notable cases:

Jeffrey Dampier

– Won $20 million in the Illinois Lottery in 1996

– Was kidnapped and murdered by his own sister-in-law and her boyfriend in 2005. They lured him to their property under the pretense of starting a business and shot him in the back of the head.

Abraham Shakespeare

– Won $30 million in the Florida Lottery in 2006

– Went missing and was later found murdered in 2010 after meeting Dorice “Dee Dee” Moore, who took control of his remaining $1.8 million.

Urooj Khan

– Won $1 million in an Illinois instant lottery scratch-off game in 2012

– Died just a day after receiving his winnings. Authorities later exhumed his body and found he had been poisoned with cyanide.

Victoria Zell

– Won $11 million Powerball jackpot along with her husband in 2001

– Reportedly struggled with drug addiction after the lottery win and died of an apparent drug overdose in 2005.

While certainly not the norm, these cases remind us that a lottery jackpot doesn’t guarantee happiness or long life. For these winners, it ultimately contributed to their tragic and untimely passing.

Statistical Look at Lottery Winners and Life Expectancy

Beyond the headline-grabbing cases, some broader studies have looked at whether winning the lottery shortens life expectancy on average. The findings have been mixed.

A 2006 study published in the Journal of Health Economics did an analysis of lottery winners in Florida over nearly two decades. Surprisingly, it found that winners had a slightly higher mortality rate in the years after their lottery windfall compared to the rest of the population.

However, another study in the Economics and Human Biology journal found slightly contradictory results. This study looked at lottery winners in Sweden and found no difference in life expectancy compared to other groups.

Study Data Source Key Findings
Journal of Health Economics, 2006 Florida Lottery winners, 1993-2002 Winners had slightly higher mortality rate
Economics and Human Biology, 2016 Swedish lottery winners, 1998-2011 No significant difference in life expectancy

Overall, the two studies reached somewhat different conclusions, showing the contradictory evidence on how winning the lottery impacts longevity. More research is still needed to get a clearer picture.

Factors That Can Contribute to Lower Life Expectancy

If at least some evidence points to lottery winners potentially living shorter lives, what factors could be behind this correlation? A few possibilities include:


– Sudden wealth from a jackpot can be overwhelming and cause anxiety, uncertainty, strained relationships, fear of losing money, and constant demands on time and resources.

Lifestyle Changes

– Winners may switch to unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, drug and alcohol abuse, or dangerous hobbies. Wealth can enable dangerous excesses.

Money Mismanagement

– As highlighted by Post and Edwards, many winners aren’t prepared to handle large sums responsibly. Bad investments and giving money away depletes funds.

Target for Crime

– Publicity around large lottery wins puts a target on winners’ backs. They can become victims of fraud, lawsuits, family conflicts, and even murder.

A combination of these factors may contribute to some lottery winners meeting earlier deaths than the average population. However, the jury is still out on the statistical significance of any life expectancy gap.

Reducing Risks and Managing Finances Responsibly

For any future lottery winners, experts emphasize taking steps to minimize risks and safeguard your finances if you beat the long odds and hit a jackpot.

Some top tips include:

  • Remain anonymous – This reduces risks of harassment and crime.
  • Assemble a team – Work with experienced financial planners, lawyers, and investment advisors.
  • Pay off debts – Get a clean slate before making major purchases.
  • Make conservative investments – Don’t risk your capital with speculative investments.
  • Live within your means – Don’t dramatically change your lifestyle or overspend.
  • Help others wisely – Be cautious about requests for money from others.
  • Give to charity – Research causes carefully and set limits on donations.
  • Plan for the future – Don’t blow through your entire windfall; save and invest the majority.

While a lottery jackpot can change lives, following prudent money management principles reduces the chances of finances becoming a source of stress, legal issues, relationship conflicts or exploitation by others. This can help promote slower spending of winnings and hopefully longer, more fulfilling lives for lottery winners.

Psychological Challenges That Come With Sudden Wealth

Along with logistical issues of managing finances, experts point to the potential psychological burden of instant wealth from the lottery. Some mental health side effects can include:

  • Shock and disbelief – It takes time for reality to sink in.
  • Stress and anxiety – Coping with constant money requests takes a toll.
  • Guilt – Winners may struggle seeing old friends struggling.
  • Isolation – It can be difficult relating to new social groups.
  • Fear and paranoia – Winners worry about losing everything.
  • Identity issues – Wealth can challenge winners’ sense of self and purpose.

Experts say psychological counseling early after a lottery win can help winners navigate these issues. Talking through challenges with a mental health professional provides an outlet without judgment.

Setting realistic goals for the money and visualizing future accomplishments can also help winners transition wealth into positive life changes vs. allowing money to create distress.

Final Thoughts

The curious cases of certain lottery winners like Post and Edwards who met untimely ends remind us that windfalls don’t guarantee happiness or longevity. While winning millions in the lottery is a dream for most, the reality can quickly become a nightmare without proper precautions.

However, the statistical evidence on lottery winnings definitively affecting life expectancy remains inconclusive. With the right financial planning and emotional coping strategies, a lottery jackpot can certainly help improve the remainder of winners’ lives.

In the end, striking the lottery may not actually shorten your life. But it may change everything else. Preparation and prudence in managing newfound wealth and windfalls is key to promoting fulfillment over folly after a big lottery win.