You’ve probably read of stories about how lottery winners’ lives were left in shambles after hitting the jackpot, right? It’s almost as if such cases are just as common as success stories. Well, the winner’s curse is actually not just limited to lottery winners. In this list, you will read of winners from various contests and fields who became first-hand witnesses of life’s cruel sense of irony.
So maybe the adage “Winning isn’t everything” isn’t just some hollow and trite saying losers utter as a consolation after all. Sometimes, as the tragic turn of events in the following people’s lives have shown, we’re actually better off being the mom’s-basement-dwelling, potato-chip-eating, internet-browsing, list-reading losers that we all are.
10. Bradley Hardison
In a feat that would make Homer Simpson proud, Bradley Hardison of Elizabeth City, North Carolina devoured eight donuts in two minutes to beat police officers in a donut-eating competition at an anti-crime event some time in 2014. Sweet victory, right? Except the news of his win led to his eventual arrest.
As it turned out, Hardison had been a suspect for about nine months for separate break-in incidents at two local establishments. Lieutenant Max Robeson of Camden County Sheriff said they had been trying to interview Hardison regarding the break-ins but he had somehow remained elusive. His victory was published by a local newspaper and that was when Robeson was finally able to trace his whereabouts and ultimately arrest him. As to whether Hardison was too stupid to realize he was wanted or he simply wanted to rub it in the police officers’ faces, we’ll never know. Perhaps he just couldn’t resist the opportunity to eat a bunch of donuts. We mean, could you?
9. Timothy Bradley
When professional boxer Timothy Bradley first learned that he was selected as Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent in early 2012, he felt like he hit the jackpot. After all, this fight was going to earn him a career-high payday of $5 million.
The two clashed in June 2012. The fight lasted the full twelve rounds and most boxing analysts scored the fight in favor of Pacquiao in their unofficial scorecards. Most observers felt that the fight wasn’t even really close. Yet when the decision was announced, to everyone’s surprise Bradley got the nod from two of the three judges, enough to win the fight by split decision. He won Pacquiao’s welterweight title and kept his immaculate slate intact.
This was by far the biggest official win in Bradley’s career but the backlash from the decision was something Bradley never anticipated. Bradley and his family received all sorts of insults and death threats in the weeks that followed. At one point, it got so bad he seriously contemplated suicide. He considered this period the darkest time of his life and wished he had lost the fight instead.
8. Denise Rossi
In January 1997, Denise Rossi shocked her husband of 25 years by filing for divorce. It was something that completely blindsided her husband Thomas, as he said there were never any problems in their relationship before that. They were two homebodies who loved each other and were so close that they even shared an electric toothbrush. It wouldn’t be until over two years later that he found out why.
Denise Rossi, as it turned out, won $1,336,000 in the lottery on December 28, 1996, just a few days before she filed for divorce. She didn’t want to share the winnings with her husband, claiming that she had actually been miserable throughout their marriage. Her husband found out about her win when in, May 1999, he mistakenly received mail intended for her ex-wife from a company that pays lump sums of lottery winnings.
Confirming through the California State Lottery Commission that her ex-wife indeed won the lottery more than two years before, Thomas Rossi filed a case against her for not disclosing her winnings during the divorce proceedings. The judge ended up awarding the entire $1,336,000 to him. Denise Rossi not only lost her husband of 25 years, but she didn’t get to keep a single penny of her lottery winnings.
7. Marina Domingo
Have you ever felt so happy you could die? Well this next entry is about a grandmother who was so happy she literally died. Like, really.
Marina Domingo was a 76-year-old woman from Laoag, Philippines. Around December 2014, she participated in a raffle. The grand prize? An alkaline water bottle. If you are not familiar with it, it’s a bottle that converts regular tap water into alkaline water. It is said to have many health benefits, including enhanced immune system and improved digestive system. Of course, that may or may not be true depending on whom you ask.
Apparently, Marina was a believer of its health benefits. That is why according to her children, she wanted the prize so badly. And when her name got called and she was declared the winner, she was so overjoyed her blood pressure shot up, causing a heart attack and killing her on the spot.
6. Patrick Coulter
Nintendo Wii is not exactly a game console to die for. But oddly enough, it either directly or indirectly caused the death of several individuals, including 14-year-old Scituate, Massachusetts native Patrick Coulter.
Coulter was a member of the Word of Life Fellowship church and on November 23, 2007 they held an event in partnership with the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins. Church members gathered to watch the Bruins versus Portland Pirates game. They then held a variety of contests on the ice rink after the game’s conclusion. The supposedly fun-filled night was capped off with a raffle in which Coulter won a Nintendo Wii.
The teenager was so thrilled with the win he ran down from the stands to the rink to claim his prize, only to collapse and fall through the penalty box door. There was no visible wound from the fall, but it was reported that the boy suffered from a heart condition which may have likely caused him to collapse. He was immediately taken to Hasbro Children’s Hospital, where he passed away.
5. Cherilyn McGraw
When Ellen DeGeneres isn’t dancing, goofing around with celebrity guests, or inviting talented people from around the world to perform on her show, she enjoys doing silly contests with her live audience where she gives generous prizes in return.
In January of 2013, Cherilyn McGraw won a contest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show called “Stuff Your Down Under Pants.” The prize was an all-expenses paid skydiving trip for two in Australia. It was in December 2013 when Cherilyn and her husband of two years, Brandon, decided to cash in on the prize and took the trip to the Land Down Under. What was supposed to be a dream vacation turned out to be a nightmare.
Brandon, an Afghan and Iraq war veteran, landed horribly from the skydive with his body slamming hard to the ground. He went into cardiac arrest because of how badly he fell, and was pronounced dead shortly after. Ellen DeGeneres called it an “unimaginable tragedy” and she and her staff kept in touch with Cherilyn as a show of support.
4. Catherine Cando
Catherine Cando was a 19-year-old medical student and part-time glamour model. In October 2014 she won the Queen of Duran beauty pageant in her home country of Ecuador. Her winning prize included a brand new car, a smart tablet, and a free liposuction procedure.
The teenage beauty queen was at first hesitant about taking advantage of the liposuction procedure, thinking that she did not need it. She felt that she could lose weight through exercise anyway. According to her brother Daniel Zavala, Cando kept receiving phone calls from the surgeon, Dr. Gustavo Berh, persuading her to go with the surgery, but she kept turning him down. But Dr. Berh, who also served as one of the judges in the pageant, was persistent.
Allegedly, Dr. Berh promised Cando a job to be one of his medical assistants as long as she went through with the surgery, and Cando eventually relented. Unfortunately the operation did not go as planned. The surgeon botched the procedure, which led to Catherine Cando’s death. Her death had been attributed to brain edema, though clinical staffs also claimed it was caused by cardiac arrest. Dr. Berh was eventually arrested on charges of negligence.
3. Frank Hayes
Frank Hayes was a horse trainer and jockey in the early 1900s. In 1923, at the age of 35, Hayes got an opportunity to compete in a steeplechase in Belmont Park, New York. He had never won a race before that. The horse that he was going to race was named Sweet Kiss, pegged as a 20-1 underdog.
In spite of the long odds of winning, and despite the fact that Hayes had little experience as a jockey since he was a horse trainer by profession, Hayes and Sweet Kiss ended up victorious. The owner of the horse, elated with the win, approached Hayes afterwards only to find out to her horror that Hayes was dead. It appeared at some point during the middle of the race, Hayes suffered a heart attack and died. Sweet Kiss somehow managed to hop the final fence and cross the finish line ahead of everyone while carrying literal dead weight.
The track physician speculated that his death may have been caused by a pre-existing heart disease. Hayes would end up in the Guinness Book of Records as the first, and so far the only, deceased jockey to win a race.
2. Johnny Orris
Self-proclaimed “King of All Media” Howard Stern first gained notoriety, and hundreds of millions of dollars along the way, as a shock jock pushing the envelope in radio broadcasting. In October of 2013, as a tie-in with Johnny Knoxville’s movie Bad Grandpa, Stern held a contest called “Get My Grandpa Laid” on his radio show. The winner turned out to be 86-year-old Sullivan, Illinois native and widower Johnny Orris. The prize? A threesome with call girls Caressa Kisses and Rain Riches in Nevada’s famous brothel, The Moonlite Bunny Ranch.
December 12, 2013 was the scheduled date for Orris’ threesome. When that day came he decided to celebrate what he called the greatest day of his life by dining at a Nevada steak house first before heading to the brothel. According to one of his grandchildren, he was so full of life and had been really looking forward to this particular day. Sadly, the greatest day of his life would turn out to be his last. Orris choked to death on a prime rib he was eating. Paramedics tried to revive him but to no avail. Grandpa Johnny Orris didn’t get laid after all.
So Alanis Morissette thinks a 98-year-old man winning the lottery and dying the next day is ironic? Well this next entry is about a man who didn’t even last a few minutes after hitting the jackpot.
This man simply known as Yong was a 62-year-old noodle stall helper in Malacca, Malaysia. Yong placed a bet worth 40 cents in Malaysia’s four-digit lottery. In August 2014, while on his break, he was reading the newspaper to check the lottery result. To his surprise, his combination of “1234” won second prize in the draw. It was unclear how much his winning prize was but second prizes for Malaysia’s 4-digit lottery normally pay between the equivalent of $250 and $500.
He was so ecstatic with his win people nearby overheard him yelling “Wow!” before he suddenly collapsed to the floor. His employer immediately called for paramedics. They tried to revive him but they were unsuccessful. He was dead mere seconds upon realizing he won. Poor fellow. At least those other cursed lottery winners got to enjoy their money for a while before self-destructing.