Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Worthy Runner-Up

...for our "Idiot of the Week" Award.

Say hello again to Jack Whittaker. Not the former CBS and ABC sportscaster (who spells his last name with a single "t"), but the one-time building contractor from West Virginia, who won a record Powerball lottery jackpot ($314 million) back in 2002. Taking a lump sum payment, Whittaker received $113 million after taxes.

When he hit the lottery, Whittaker promised to give large amounts of his winnings to charity--and he apparently followed through on that promise. But along the way, he also acquired a taste for gambling, strippers and the high life. Cha-ching. On top of that, he got divorced, his granddaughter died from a drug overdose; he was arrested for drunk driving (and a judge ordered him to enter rehab), then he was sued by the father of an 18-year-old boy, who was found dead in Whittaker's home. Cha-ching again.

But his tale of personal woe doesn't end there. Whittaker was recently found liable in a suit filed by a casino worker in Charleston, West Virginia, who accused him of assaulting her. Whittaker has promised to pay the settlement, but there's a little problem.

He's out of money. Or so he says.

According to Whittaker, a "team of crooks" cashed checks at 12 branches of City National Bank last September, and "got all my money," according to a motion recently filed by his attorney. A bank spokesman told CBS News that it is investigating "small discrepancies" in Whittaker's accounts.

If I had to guess, I'd say the only real crook who got hold of the money is Jack Whittaker. He's either attempting to hide what little's left from the casino worker (and her lawyers), or he's gone through that $113 million like you-know-what through a goose.

They're called a mutual funds, Jack.

CPAs and tax attorneys can be your friends, if you're careful about the ones you hire.

It's called a financial plan.

It's called the "disappearing act" after a financial windfall.

Sadly, Mr. Whittaker's choices have apparently landed him in the poor house. And there may be more misfortune to come. About this time, the IRS usually shows up and demands payment on back taxes. Whittaker paid a boatload of taxes back in 2002, but there might be dividends or interest income that somehow went unreported. I'm beginning to wonder if Jack Whittaker used the same financial advisor as Wesley Snipes.

For financial lunacy of the first magnitude, Jack Whittaker is a worthy runner-up for "Idiot of the Week."


The Last Ephor said...

My understanding is that lottery winners typically go broke within 5 years of winning. IIRC someone wrote a book about it as well. Handing vast sums of money to people with no experience with or understanding of money probably makes that all but inevitable.

"A fool and his money throw a hell of a party" -Anon

JoeC said...

Its too easy to cast stones at lottery winners, especially since, unfortunately, they ain't me! And this caricature of a WVa redneck is most probably broke as he says. Duffy hit that nail on the head I think. I lived in (briefly) and (still) married someone from that miserable state, and I am glad to be a long way from there. Experiencing first hand the education, culture, and attitude of WVa would lead me to believe he threw one helluva binge, and its time for the hangover at last.