"Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me." These are the words Billy Bob Harrell, Jr. uttered to his financial adviser shortly before taking his own life. Harrell won the Texas Lottery Lotto jackpot of $31 million in 1997 but just 20 months after winning, he was broke and took his life, putting a shotgun to his chest and pulling the trigger.
While dreams of winning the record $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot typically involve mansions and yachts, the financial flameouts of Harrell and other previous big lottery winners show that becoming very rich very fast can be a dangerous combination.
"Seventy percent of people who land a big windfall, lose it within several years," Brian Benham, president at Benham Advisory Group, a retirement planning firm in Indianapolis, told NBC News. "Many are not prepared for such a massive change in lifestyle and they don't set a budget, (but) even millionaires need a budget."
Take a look at eight past lottery winners who squandered their windfalls and wound up in dire financial quagmires — or worse.