Woman wins lottery twice before losing it all and ending up penniless
Evelyn Adams, from New Jersey, won a staggering £3.9 million in 1985, but was hit with a barrage of bad luck which left her penniless and living in a trailer park
A woman won the lottery twice in six months, only to lose it all.
Evelyn Adams, from New Jersey, first won £3.9 million in October 1985 and then another $1.4 million jackpot just four months later. Despite her incredible luck, Evelyn's fortune didn't last. The convenience store worker from Point Pleasant Beach had been playing the lottery since 1971, initially spending $25 a week on tickets.
After her wins, she found herself in the public eye, losing her privacy. "I was known", said Evelyn. "I couldn't go anywhere without being recognized." After bagging her first jackpot, she cleared some bills and set up a college fund for her daughter. She also treated herself to a car, but poor business choices and a severe gambling problem saw Evelyn lose her cash and end up in a trailer home.
When she initially won the jackpot, Evelyn chose to be generous with her winnings, helping those who asked for financial help. However, she found that some people she lent money to didn't feel the need to repay her. She revealed: "I gave a lot of money away at first. Now I am more selective."
Her family had mixed reactions to her incredible luck. Evelyn shared: "Most of my family was great, but a few of my relatives were angry because I had so much."
After winning her second jackpot, Evelyn was brimming with plans for the future, eager to enjoy her newfound wealth. She planned to marry her fiance, who owned the shop where she worked. She also hoped to use her winnings to go back to school and study music, dreaming of opening a music store one day.
Seven years after her double win, Evelyn and her fiance tied the knot, and his shop, which had become a hotspot for lottery ticket buyers hoping for some of her luck, was sold. Evelyn chose to receive her winnings in yearly payments of $218,000. In 1993, Evelyn was full of hope for the future, planning to move from Point Pleasant Beach once her daughter finished high school. But things didn't go as planned.
By 2012, Evelyn had spent all her money, mainly due to frequent visits to the slot machines at Atlantic City casinos. She remembered: "Winning the lottery isn't always what it's cracked up to be. I won the American dream but I lost it, too. It was a very hard fall. It's called rock bottom."
Evelyn admitted she made some mistakes by giving away her money too freely, but said most of her errors came later. After her big wins, she developed a gambling addiction. Her winnings were quickly used up due to spending at the casino tables in Atlantic City, bad investments and personal spending.
Twenty years after her historic win, Evelyn was living in a trailer park, penniless. Looking back, she said: "Everybody wanted my money. Everybody had their hand out. I never learned one simple word in the English language, 'no'. I wish I had the chance to do it all over again. I'd be much smarter about it now.
"I was a big time gambler. I didn't drop a million dollars but it was a lot of money." She concluded: "I made mistakes, some I regret, some I don't. I'm human. I can't go back now so I just go forward, one step at a time."
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