LOTTERY WINNERS WHO WISHED THEY DID NEVER WON
The MIT Fix
This is the true story of the revenge of the nerds: in 2005, a group of math and science geniuses
(aka undergrads at MIT, seen above, conducting another prank) formed an organization called Cash
Win Fall to beat the lottery. And they did it. Over the course of seven years, the group won nearly
$48 million. Of course, the system required members of this lottery-fixing group to invest $40 million over
the seven years in hundreds of thousands of $2 tickets. Officials finally put an end to the group in 2012
when newspapers began investigating the set up.
In March 2012, a group of 15 McDonald's employees pooled money and sent Mirlande Wilson off to
buy lottery tickets. One was a $105 million winner, but Wilson insisted it was a ticket she bought separately
from the group. Wilson refused to split the money. "I don't know if I won. Some of the numbers were familiar.
I recognized some of [them],'' Wilson said, not doing a great job of convincing her co-workers, who are
currently suing her, accusing her of pretending to lose the ticket but instead giving it to three public school
workers who claimed the money and cut her a share. Wilson denies the allegations.
In 2005, Chinese lottery agent Zhao Liqun found a lottery loophole. After the winning numbers were
called, he still had a five-minute window in which to select and play numbers. Liqun took advantage of
this window not once, not twice but three times, winning over $4 million. Chinese authorities discovered
the loophole and, in 2007, he was sentenced to life in prison for fraud.
In 2003, Rogers became the youngest person to ever win the British lottery when she won £1.9 million
at the age of 16. It didn't take long for her to spend her winnings on houses, vacations, clothing, cars,
breast implants and cocaine. By the time she was 22, according to later interviews, Rogers had attempted
suicide, was nearly broke and had moved back in with her mother. As of 2012, she was expecting twins and
living with her boyfriend with £40,000 of her winnings left, which she planned to use for her children.
The Pennsylvania Scam
In 1980, more than six million people tuned in to watch the Pennsylvania lottery, which was set for the
then-state record of $3.5 million. The numbers drawn: 6, 6, 6. That ominous selection of numbers was
not an accident; presenter Nick Perry and others fixed the drawing by weighting certain balls. The group
got away with the scheme for a few months before being caught. Perry was convicted of criminal
conspiracy, perjury and three other charges and served two years in prison. The plot later
served as inspiration for the 2000 movie Lucky Numbers, starring John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow.
In 1990, Alex Toth won $13 million in the Florida State Lottery. Rather than get it in one lump sum,
the winnings were doled out to Toth and his wife, Rhoda, in 20 annual payments of $666,666.
For Toth, that number wasn't just a scary coincidence. First, Rhoda's son and his girlfriend were
accused of killing her dog and setting fire to Toth's car. Then Rhoda's daughter was in a car accident.
Then came accusations of tax fraud in 2006. Then Toth was arrested for growing marijuana, writing
bad checks, and violating probation (by growing more marijuana). In 2008, Toth died at the age of 60.
Convenience Store Swap
A well-meaning group of Ontario construction workers pooled their money in 2003 and bought a
Lotto Super 7 play. Sadly, the ticket was not a winneror so the group thought. Investigators concluded
that the construction guys were not informed their ticket had won a free play; the clerk kept the free ticket
for himself and later won the jackpot with it. Following the investigation, the rightful winners were given
more than $14 million (in Canadian dollars), according to the Globe And Mail.
Owner of multiple dry cleaners in Chicago, Urooj Khan's life got even better in June 2012, when
he won $1 million on a scratcher he purchased at a 7-Eleven. After taxes, that million turned into
$425,000 -- still a sizable score. But Khan died shortly before he was to receive the check. His family
asked authorities to look into Khan's death, which had been ruled due to natural causes, and a
toxicology report shockingly revealed his blood contained high amounts of cyanide.
After winning £2 million in England's National Lottery, 58-year-old Philip Kitchen bought a 5-bedroom
17th century town house complete with tennis court and boat house, a Bentley, a Rolls Royce,
whiskey and beer. His friend, room mate, and grounds keeper Robert Walker told reporters that Kitchen
"lived a hermit's life in a downstairs room, with his drink, a settee and a TV. He would watch four
videos a day but his world was just drink." When he was found dead on his couch in 2001, Kitchen was
surrounded by two crates of beer and an unopened bottle of whiskey. Kitchen's will gave the remaining
money to 23 charities and not a penny to Walker.
Winning The Lottery Twice
In 2001, 78-year-old Ontario resident Bob Edmonds bought a Super 7 lottery ticket. When he took
the ticket to the store, he heard a joyous sound: two winning jingles indicated that he was a
winner twice over, but he was only given a free ticket and wasn't told of the other prize: $250,000.
Suspecting that he had been cheated, Edmonds contacted the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
(OLG) as well as the cops.
The matter was unresolved until Edmonds sued both the OLG and the clerk, settling out of court.
In 2006 The Fifth Estate, a Canadian documentary show reported on the case, which led to the firing
of OLG president Duncan Brown and set precedence in the fight against lottery fraud.
Virginia Merida and Mack Metcalf
In 2000, husband and wife Virginia Merida and Mack Metcalf split a $34 million Kentucky
Powerball jackpot. By 2001, the two were divorced, but that was just the start of their troubles.
Metcalf purchased a Mount Vernon-esque estate and filled it with Rottweilers, tarantulas, a boa
constrictor, and horses, along with vintage cars.
According to the New York Times, after giving away cash to townsfolk and family, Metcalf drank
heavily and told witnesses he feared for his life. In 2003, he died of hepatitis and cirrhosis of the
liver. Merida bought a modest house, which started as a home for her, her son, and her mother,
but later turned tragic when Merida's boyfriend died of an overdose. In 2004, Merida died.
Her body was not discovered for days.
Lottery Winners Only Slightly Happier Than Quadriplegics
In a 1978 study published in the <>Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, psychologists
interviewed three groups about their perceived level of happiness: Illinois State Lottery winners,
non-winners with no major health problems and accident victims who had become
paraplegics or quadriplegics.
The survey found that while the lottery winners were the happiest overall, they weren't much
happier than either of the other two groups and were much less able to find pleasure in everyday
things like getting a compliment or talking to a friend than the non-winners or accident victims.
The moral of the story: Day to day, it's better to be a paraplegic than a lottery winner.