Jack Whittaker (lottery winner)
Andrew Jackson "Jack" Whittaker, Jr. (born c. 1947 in Jumping Branch, West Virginia) is the winner of a 2002 lottery jackpot. When he won US$314.9 million in the Powerball multi-state lottery it was, at the time, the largest jackpot ever won by a single winning ticket in the history of American lottery. After winning the lottery, he had several brushes with the law, as well as personal tragedies.
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Whittaker was the 55-year-old president of Diversified Enterprises Construction, a contracting firm in Putnam County, West Virginia, when he chose the winning numbers for the December 25, 2002 drawing. Whittaker already had a net worth of over US$17 million before his Powerball windfall. Whittaker purchased the winning Powerball ticket at a supermarket in Hurricane, West Virginia, where he had stopped for a deli breakfast sandwich and to get fuel for his vehicle.
Whittaker pledged 10% of his winnings to Christian charities—including several churches affiliated with the Church of God—in southern West Virginia. One of the beneficiary congregations constructed a multimillion-dollar church in Hurricane. He also donated $14 million to establish the Jack Whittaker Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides food and clothing to low-income families in rural West Virginia. Moreover, for the deli manager who served the biscuits at the convenience store where he purchased the winning ticket, he purchased a $123,000 house and a new Jeep Grand Cherokee, and gave her a check for $44,000.
Legal and personal problems
On August 5, 2003, less than a year after Whittaker won the lottery, thieves broke into his car while it was parked at a strip club in Cross Lanes, West Virginia. The thieves made away with $545,000 in cash that Whittaker carried around in a suitcase. When asked why he would carry that much money around with him Whittaker responded "because I can". In another incident, two employees at the club, the general manager and a dancer-manager who were romantically linked, were arrested and charged with a plot to put drugs in Whittaker's drinks and then rob him. On January 25, 2004, thieves once again broke into his car, this time making off with an estimated $200,000 in cash, but this was later recovered.
On September 17, 2003, Jesse Tribble, an 18-year-old on-and-off-again boyfriend of Whittaker's granddaughter Brandi Bragg, was found dead in Whittaker's home in Teays Valley, West Virginia,. A coroner's report indicated that he had died from overdosing on a combination of oxycodone, methadone, meperidine, and cocaine.
On December 20, 2004, Brandi Bragg, 17, was found dead on the property of a male friend after being reported missing on December 9. Her body was wrapped inside a plastic tarpaulin and dumped behind a junked van. No one was charged with a crime. Cocaine and methadone were found in her system, but the cause of death was listed as "undetermined."
At an October 11, 2005 hearing related to his January 2003 DUI, a visibly shaken Whittaker lashed out at local law enforcement agencies for focusing on his troubles while failing to arrest anyone in relation to his granddaughter's death,
Go after whoever killed my granddaughter with as much zealous [sic] as these butt holes are trying to convict me of something I didn’t do.
Whittaker was later sued by Caesars Atlantic City casino for bouncing $1.5 million worth of checks to cover gambling losses. Whittaker also countersued, claiming that his losses were supposed to be credited due to a slot machine he developed and that they in fact owed him money.
On January 11, 2007, a legal complaint against Whittaker alleged he claimed that on September 11, 2006, thieves took all of his money. The thieves, according to the account, went to 12 branches of the City National Bank and cashed 12 checks. The incident came to light because Whittaker had not been paying money to a woman who had previously sued him. Kitti French filed the complaint earlier in the week, requesting court costs and money from Whittaker.
On July 5, 2009, Ginger Whittaker Bragg, Whittaker's 42-year-old daughter and the mother of Brandi Bragg, was found dead in Daniels, West Virginia. No explanation was given but officials did not expect foul play.
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- "Jack Whittaker's Daughter Found Dead"
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- "More Sad but True Lottery Winners Stories", The Lotto Report; originally posted Dec. 10, 2004, revised Feb. 27, 2005.
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- C-SPAN Q&A interview with April Witt about Whittaker's winning of the lottery and his subsequent difficulties, March 6, 2005
- Infographic of February 2004 lottery Winners in Nine Countries - derhauptgewinn.de
- Notable Lotto Winners