Skip to comments.A Sad but True Texas Lottery Winner Story ....
Posted on 11/27/2004 4:07:31 AM PST by DirtyHarryY2K
A Sad but True Texas Lottery Winner Story
Originally Posted: Nov 24, 2004 Revised:
Less than two years after Billie Bob Harrell Jr. took the $31 million lottery jackpot, he took his own life Harrell, a former Pentecostal preacher, was a Home Depot stocker when he hit the jackpot.
Billie Bob's (Mis) Fortune
BY STEVE MCVICKER
From the Week of Thursday, February 10, 2000
Many have the same dream: finding the six magical numbers that unlock the treasure known as the Texas Lottery. Then life would be good. Problems would vanish. There are even the collective fantasies of what to buy and with whom to share this new, instant wealth.
Billie Bob Harrell Jr. shared those common visions by common souls seeking the salvation of sudden fortune.
And in June 1997, he found it.
He sat in his easy chair one evening and looked at his Quick Pick and then at the Sunday newspaper. Harrell studied the sequence of numbers again and began to realize the wildest of notions. He and wife Barbara Jean held the only winning ticket to a Lotto Texas jackpot of $31 million.
Harrell, a deeply religious man, knew he had a godsend from heaven. After being laid off from a couple of jobs in the past few years, Billie Bob had been reduced to stocking the electrical-supply shelves of a Home Depot in northeast Harris County. He was having a damn hard time providing for himself and Barbara Jean, much less for their three teenage children.
Every Wednesday and Saturday those kids were on his mind when he'd scrape together a few spare dollars to purchase a couple or so lottery tickets. Sometimes he'd use the sequence of his children's birth dates to choose his numbers. Other times he'd let the state's computer do his choosing for him. That random selection finally paid off, transforming Harrell into a millionaire overnight on a warm evening in June.
The hard times were history when he arrived in Austin about a month later, with an entourage that included his family, his minister and his attorneys, to collect the first of 25 annual checks for $1.24 million.
Life had been tough, he said at the formal lottery ceremony, but he had persevered through the worst of it.
"I wasn't going to give up," said Harrell, then 47. "Everyone kept telling me it would get better. I didn't realize it would get this much better."
In fact, it was great. At least for a while. Harrell purchased a ranch. He bought a half-dozen homes for himself and other family members. He, his wife and all the kids got new automobiles. He made large contributions to his church. If members of the congregation needed help, Billie Bob was there with cash.
Then suddenly Harrell discovered that his life was unraveling almost as quickly as it had come together. He relished the role of being an easy touch. But everyone, it seemed -- family, friends, fellow worshipers and strangers -- was putting the touch on him. His spending and his lending spiraled out of control. In February those tensions splintered his already strained marriage.
And on May 22, 1999, 20 months after hitting lottery pay dirt, Harrell locked himself inside an upstairs bedroom of his fashionable Kingwood home and stood at the point of no return. Investigators say he stripped away his clothes, pressed a shotgun barrel against his chest and fired.
Billie Bob Harrell was gone forever. So was the fortune, and even the family that had rejoiced with him when the shower of riches had first rained upon them. A schism has widened between the children and grandparents, who cannot even agree on whether Billie Bob took his own life. And an intrafamily war looms over the remnants of the fortune, which may not even be enough to pay estate taxes.
Perhaps the only thing not in dispute about his life and death is the jarring impact of money: It may not have caused his problems, but it certainly didn't solve them.
Shortly before his death, Harrell confided to a financial adviser: "Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me."
All over the world, dishonest governments are using the lottery (the big prize) to finance the budget.
The lottery is nothing but a tax on those who cannot comprehend Probability and Statistics
First thing I'd do is put half of the money where I can't touch it.
Could this story be less complete? It might as well say "Once apon a time." Where's the rest of it?
BTW, I'm curious if you know how such dishonest governments as the german and french steal the jackpot ...
No, late Mr. Harrell, winning the lottery was NOT the worst thing that ever happened to you. Your own weakness in letting yourself be bankrupted by fake-o sob stories from every con artist and new "friend" that came down the pike was the worst thing that ever happened to you.
Otherwise known as the Tax on the Stoopid.
1. Think about how many people scrape together a few dollars that could be used to better their family's condition. Kind of like Evita the musical. The lottery: A voluntary tax on the mathematically challenged.
2. Just because a relative or neighbor becomes wealthy does not allow us to put a claim on that wealth. What sort of man asks for help unless he is starving? I can see how a peer acquiring great wealth could put a strain on the relationship, but I wonder about the people who surrounded this man. I see no pleasure in spending another man's money.
The guy simply couldn't manage his life ... period. He didn't have it bad before or after winning the lottery.
Well, he sure showed THEM! That'll teach'em!
If this ever happened to me, I'd have no problem telling family and total stranger deadbeats and sponges to go pi$$ up a rope.
Lotterys are nothing but legalized theft from the poor and ignorant.
AND QUIT TAXING US 'RICH FOLKS'!!!
The most sad thing is that he only got a name after he died
True. This guy had very severe mental problems. Most people would have just realized that "the problem" was that they were too easy giving out money to people and just made simple adjustments to curb that "problem" behavior/problem.
Agreed, Don't try to live like Donald Trump. Just live a lot better the way you are. IOW pretend like nothing happened and keep mouth shut. :^x
The manner in which the money is ACQUIRED is the reason any and everyone who knows the winner feels free to ask for, and in the case of family, EXPECT a chunk of it. HARD-EARNED money doesn't carry this expectation of its recipient.
I feel sorry for lottery winners, and I think a study would prove that most die miserable. I will not buy a lottery ticket because I am afraid I wll WIN.
By choosing annual payouts, (at least in Ohio you have that choice, discounted cash payment, or annual, don't know about Texas) you shouldn't forfeit the unpaid dividends if you die.
At least in Ohio, they continue to pay out to your heirs until the full amount is paid.
Once you have enough money to put a roof over your head and food on the table and provide for other basic needs, everything else is just gravy.
One thing Americans must learn is to quit buying every piece of junk that comes along, just because it exists.
Madison Avenue keeps telling us we need more and more stuff.
It ain't the path to happiness.
"Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me." Because he allowed this to happen: But everyone, it seemed -- family, friends, fellow worshipers and strangers -- was putting the touch on him. His spending and his lending spiraled out of control.
If I ever remember to buy that winning lottery ticket a really big one the first thing I would do is pay off the few bills I have, write checks to my daughter, sister and a few friends then set up an investment portfolio.
Then I would by a large RV and find a new place to live. I too am a soft touch, but I know from experience that a soft touch can often be slammed.
You're right, a lot is missing. Either the author did not know many details or chose to remain silent on them to protect the deceased.
There must be a lot more to this story.
You're right about the lack of completeness, but I've heard other lottery winners say that they quickly lost all their "friends" because everybody wants a piece of you and if you don't cough it up things turn ugly fast.
This reminds me of the West Virginia lottery winnder who was allegedly a practicing Christian. Several years after winning one of the big lotteries ($100+ million), he's gotten a few DUIs and has apparently made a second home of the local strip club.
Just what are the responsibilities of one from a poor family who achieves financial success? The pressure is always on that individual to "provide" for the rest of the family (which may also include distant relatives and friends). The more generous that individual is, the more that resentment is generated because is it never enough and some family members are going to always feel short-changed.
It's a no-win situation.
I happen to be in that situation myself. My wife and I are far from "rich" but we have achieved a level of financial success that far exceeds the rest of the family. It makes social situations somewhat awkward and we are often hit up for money by those family members less fortuate, or should I say, those family members who have made more mistakes in life and now are pleading with us to bail them out.
We are able to brush them off by telling them that we aren't as "rich" as we seem to be (and we aren't - we are just good at managing our money), but Lottery winners don't have that luxury. Everybody knows exactly how rich they are because the amount is published in all the papers.
Point is, I know exactly what this poor man went through. He was evidently trying so hard to be everything to everybody and he ended up pissing everybody off.
As soon as you gain the reputation of being a "soft-touch", they will suck you dry everytime. And instead of showing appreciation, they will actually tell others (behind your back) how little you gave them compared to everybody else.
During the course of my life, other family members have said to others how greedy and selfish we were because we didn't spot them that $5,000 "loan" or help them get out of that credit card trouble. But my wife and I are wise enough to know that they are actually the greedy and selfish ones. It's a shame that this man never gained the same wisdom.
Mee too! They would hear from me not the other way around. I would help family and friends to an extent. They would not starve or nothing like that, But buy them all houses/cars, etc.. I don't think so. I have too many kinfolk/in-laws for that.
I would suggest they play the lotto like I did.
"Exactly! Here in NC, stupid govenor Easley keeps trying to jam it down the people's throats, but we keep puking it back up (like we should).
Lotterys are nothing but legalized theft from the poor and ignorant."
That's funny. I thought one would have a choice whether to buy a lottery ticket. Is it not their "constitutional" right to be stoopid? We do alcohol and tobacco. Lotto should be a choice left to the people - not blocked from the ballot because politicians want to control how the stoopid spend.
No, to me it sounded like he had run up debts that were going to eat up the cash flow.
People have said that if all the wealth were pooled and distributed equally, after some time, the same people would have what they had before.
Money flows from the gullible. As usual, I got my dose of Nigerian 419 spams this morning. Consider that town offical who not only fell for it, but emebezzled money to do it. If this person won the lottery, would they have had the money a few years thereafter?
Were I to win a lottery (Remote, as I do not buy tickets..) there would not be one new person in my life. No "New Friends". People for whom I was good enough before would be the only ones welcome. I already have lawyers and accountants.
Oh, it's not that I embrace the lottery - I don't. Neither do I embrace others, govm't included, telling me they know best how I should spend MY earnings - as long as I am not dependant on the taxpayer for support.
Just wanted to help clear that up...;-)
If anyone has ever had a death in the family....same thing happens...all the vultures come out for their piece of the pie.
I feel bad that he was so stressed that he felt he had no choice in life, but he should have thought about the people he was leaving behind (close family members who loved him for who he was, not what he won). They will never be the same. Suicide is not the answer.
That sickly sweet obsequious stuned-beeber smile they give you is enough to make you want to puke right from the gecko.
Suicide is one of the most selfish acts a person can carry out. While seemingly saving yourself the pain, you inflict it on countless others for life.
That is the truth!!
I have too many kinfolk/in-laws for that.
And we would quickly discover family and friends we never knew we had.
True story. A young lady won the lottery. Her Boyfriend made it known that he expected half, since he bought her the ticket. Her husband became a somewhat wealthy ex-husband.
I could NEVER afford to win the lottery.
I did my family tree and it seems I'm some way kin to the entire countryside!!!
If I put on my "greedy, heartless Republican hat", I would be all in favor of every lottery imaginable, since the poor would pay the taxes that I would normally have to pay. But I don't want lotteries because I believe they are inherently immoral and respect what God says about enabling the misery or the poor or helping put burdens on them.
Darwin award contender
Besides, the money discarded on lottery tickets cannot be used to buy smokes and Mad Dog 20-20.
It's a welfare/entitlement human action cycle.
First people are thankful for the aid.
Then they expect (or feel entitled to) the aid.
Then they demand the aid.
Then they are angry because it's not enough.
Nope, he doesn't qualify for the Darwin. He left a wife and 3 kids.
I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams going to some friend or family member with my hat in hand with a sheepish grin trying to suck up to them because they had a financial windfall. Where's the dignity in that? Shameless!