The Unlucky Lottery Winners Who Lost Their Millions

Be careful when wishing for lottery riches. A jackpot can feel like a jinx.

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Who hasn't dreamed of becoming a millionaire in the lottery? But many who have had that experience might warn you to be careful about wishing for a big-money win, because it can seem like a curse.

There are plenty of cautionary tales about people who were thrust into wealth overnight and then watched their windfall fade away almost as quickly.

Read on about 13 unlucky lottery winners who went from riches to rags.

13. From winner to robber

CCTV Footage of James Hayes at various banks.
CCTV Footage of James Hayes at various banks.

James Hayes was working as an overnight security guard in 1998 when he won $19 million playing California's SuperLotto game.

But he quickly went from winner to loser: His ex-wife reportedly took half the jackpot money, and Hayes developed a heroin habit costing him $1,000 a week.

Authorities say he resorted to robbing banks to keep up his lifestyle. The FBI nicknamed him the "PT Cruiser Bandit" and the "Seasoned Bandit," because of his car and gray hair.

In March 2018, Hayes pleaded guilty to bank robbery and was looking at up to 20 years behind bars.

12. With friends like this...

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Jay Sommers lost money to a 'friend' and his bad investments.

Jay Sommers was just 20 years old in 1988 when he became one of five winners sharing a $28.9 million lottery in Michigan. He blew through his first annual installment of $290,000 buying five luxury cars.

He couldn't keep up with his taxes and asked a business-savvy friend to help him manage his money. The "friend" allegedly emptied out Sommers' bank account investing in shady business ventures that didn't pan out.

Sommers wound up suing the friend and delivering pizzas to make ends meet.