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What is a fact about the human body that not many people know about? by Zenssei in AskReddit

[–]PrivilegeCheckmate 64 points65 points  (0 children)

Just distract yourself and you'll forget you forgot.

Look at boobs; this is medical advice.

Have you ever picked up a hitch-hiker? by MD786 in AskReddit

[–]rhoner 7472 points7473 points 4242143453562453646522528923& 276 more (0 children)

Just about every time I see someone I stop. I kind of got out of the habit in the last couple of years, moved to a big city and all that, my girlfriend wasn't too stoked on the practice. Then some shit happened to me that changed me and I am back to offering rides habitually. If you would indulge me, it is long story and has almost nothing to do with hitch hiking other than happening on a road.

This past year I have had 3 instances of car trouble. A blow out on a freeway, a bunch of blown fuses and an out of gas situation. All of them were while driving other people's cars which, for some reason, makes it worse on an emotional level. It makes it worse on a practical level as well, what with the fact that I carry things like a jack and extra fuses in my car, and know enough not to park, facing downhill, on a steep incline with less than a gallon of fuel.

Anyway, each of these times this shit happened I was DISGUSTED with how people would not bother to help me. I spent hours on the side of the freeway waiting, watching roadside assistance vehicles blow past me, for AAA to show. The 4 gas stations I asked for a gas can at told me that they couldn't loan them out "for my safety" but I could buy a really shitty 1-gallon one with no cap for $15. It was enough, each time, to make you say shit like "this country is going to hell in a handbasket."

But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke a lick of the language. But one of those dudes had a profound affect on me.

He was the guy that stopped to help me with a blow out with his whole family of 6 in tow. I was on the side of the road for close to 4 hours. Big jeep, blown rear tire, had a spare but no jack. I had signs in the windows of the car, big signs that said NEED A JACK and offered money. No dice. Right as I am about to give up and just hitch out there a van pulls over and dude bounds out. He sizes the situation up and calls for his youngest daughter who speaks english. He conveys through her that he has a jack but it is too small for the Jeep so we will need to brace it. He produces a saw from the van and cuts a log out of a downed tree on the side of the road. We rolled it over, put his jack on top, and bam, in business. I start taking the wheel off and, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones and I wasn't careful and I snapped the head I needed clean off. Fuck.

No worries, he runs to the van, gives it to his wife and she is gone in a flash, down the road to buy a tire iron. She is back in 15 minutes, we finish the job with a little sweat and cussing (stupid log was starting to give), and I am a very happy man. We are both filthy and sweaty. The wife produces a large water jug for us to wash our hands in. I tried to put a 20 in the man's hand but he wouldn't take it so I instead gave it to his wife as quietly as I could. I thanked them up one side and down the other. I asked the little girl where they lived, thinking maybe I could send them a gift for being so awesome. She says they live in Mexico. They are here so mommy and daddy can pick peaches for the next few weeks. After that they are going to pick cherries then go back home. She asks if I have had lunch and when I told her no she gave me a tamale from their cooler, the best fucking tamale I have ever had.

So, to clarify, a family that is undoubtedly poorer than you, me, and just about everyone else on that stretch of road, working on a seasonal basis where time is money, took an hour or two out of their day to help some strange dude on the side of the road when people in tow trucks were just passing me by. Wow...

But we aren't done yet. I thank them again and walk back to my car and open the foil on the tamale cause I am starving at this point and what do I find inside? My fucking $20 bill! I whirl around and run up to the van and the guy rolls his window down. He sees the $20 in my hand and just shaking his head no like he won't take it. All I can think to say is "Por Favor, Por Favor, Por Favor" with my hands out. Dude just smiles, shakes his head and, with what looked like great concentration, tried his hardest to speak to me in English:

"Today you.... tomorrow me."

Rolled up his window, drove away, his daughter waving to me in the rear view. I sat in my car eating the best fucking tamale of all time and I just cried. Like a little girl. It has been a rough year and nothing has broke my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn't deal.

In the 5 months since I have changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and, once, went 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won't accept money. Every time I tell them the same thing when we are through:

"Today you.... tomorrow me."

tl;dr: long rambling story about how the kindness of strangers, particularly folks from south of the border, forced me to be more helpful on the road and in life in general. I am sure it won't be as meaningful to anyone else but it was seriously the highlight of my 2010.

*edit: To the OP, sorry to jack your thread, this has nothing to do with Hitch Hiking. I sort of thought I could just get this off my chest, enjoy the catharsis and watch the story languish at the bottom of the page. Glad people like hearing the tale and I hope it moves you to be more helpful in your day to day. *

Hey Reddit, What tattoos do you have? by gimmegimme in AskReddit

[–]Saend 5154 points5155 points 5235& 11 more (0 children)

Please don't ask me how I managed to take this picture... http://i.imgur.com/TAXdG.jpg

What is a fact about the human body that not many people know about? by Zenssei in AskReddit

[–]SlavicSquat1234 6164 points6165 points 22 (0 children)

Your eyes have a separate immune system from the rest of your body and in a lot of occasions if your body's immune system finds your eyes, they will assume they are a foreign body and blind you.

Parents of Reddit, what has your child done to make you think they lived a past life? by poopcornkernels in AskReddit

[–]thezukes22 5744 points5745 points  (0 children)

This thread has made me think about reincarnation. What if there are a finite number of living things on earth and the reason that so many animal species are going extinct is because of the human population growing. But not because of resource use and habitat destruction, but because there can only be a finite number of souls alive at a given time.
Edit: I am lying in bed with a fever.
Edit 2: thank you strangers for pointing out all the holes in this theory and for the gold for a not well thought out fever comment.

What is a fact about the human body that not many people know about? by Zenssei in AskReddit

[–]coolplate 116 points117 points  (0 children)

Me:pick up car

Can't do it...

Me: sudo pick up car

Suddenly able to do it

Those who have been to a ruined wedding, what happened? by lolfuckno in AskReddit

[–]HumbleTrees 24.8k points24.8k points 2161431836& 59 more (0 children)

I was studying photography and used to act as an assistant to a well known wedding photographer. Went to a couple's wedding. He shot digital and I shot black and white film. Spent all day with the couple from 9am through till 2am the next morning when we left. I could see how genuinely in love they were. It was only a day but I got to know them quite well and really liked them both.

The next morning, I get a call from the photographer and his voice was shaky. He explained that the groom had been murdered that night after the reception party. Three guys had broken into their bungalow to steal wedding gifts. The groom got out of bed to stop them and they executed him in front of the bride. I was in shock for about two weeks. This story was in South Africa if that helps explain how or why this happened. The next weekend, the photographer and I went to the bride's house to present her with the photos. We'd worked together to get the job massively accelerated so she had the photos of her husband. We did it at our own expense and didn't charge her a penny for the day or all the prints and album. Sort of the least we could do. Because my photos didn't matter as much, I'd been able to simply capture those natural moments between them, rather than staged wedding photos. So they had the normal album pics but also about 150 snaps of just them being a couple. She was in tears from the moment we arrived till we left a few hours later.

She was a shadow of the women I'd met only a week earlier. That shit still haunts me.

Edit: I didn't expect this story to get the attention it has. I'm sorry for any upset this has caused anyone reading this but I believe it's an important reality check. I loved south Africa in a lot of ways, but it's. Avery troubled place with insane murder and rape rates. My story is by no means unique or even particularly shocking by south African standards. I also have worse stories like this from friends and neighbours. I have CPTSD from my time living there and the things I'd endured. I've got friends who were diagnosed with PTSD stemming from their time there too. Also, for anyone wanting to read the news article about this event : https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/bride-mourns-as-robbers-kill-man-at-resort-351744

I hope this dissuades a few people from visiting South Africa, and in doing so perhaps I save a few lives.

What is a fact about the human body that not many people know about? by Zenssei in AskReddit

[–]Hattix 6836 points6837 points 2 (0 children)

Your stomach is surrounded by more brain cells (half a billion neurons) than the brain of a cat contains in total.

It's your enteric nervous system. It controls digestion, operates autonomously, has its own memory, can handle its own reflexes, it has its own senses even.

It's thought to have come about because of the blood-brain barrier and the main brain being locked away in the skull, a spinal column and nerves away from the critical action of nutrition.

So, what’s your plan for seducing Bill Gates? by adequatesenseofself in AskReddit

[–]LordCitrus 16.5k points16.5k points 2102225658764604& 280 more (0 children)

It has to be natural, I don't think Bill would take kindly to all the gold-diggers plotting to seduce him as we speak in dark corners of the internet.

I want to captivate him, and make myself accessible at the same time. Get him to make the first move.

I'll research his interests, and write multiple NYT bestsellers books in those categories. Then, I'll hold a number of book signings suspiciously overlapping with Bill's travel itinerary until we finally meet for the first time, and we exchange numbers.

I'll frequent his haunts, and flash a smile at him every time. Soon we're talking daily like old friends. About our projects, about our vision for the world, about our loneliness and desires. Something resonates with him, and I feel his heart beat faster whenever we're together. We play tennis, we travel, we work together. I help out at his foundation, Melinda keeps giving me the stink eye. Everyone can see it but Bill himself.

Then, one day he sees Bezos chatting me up and a deep burning rage bellows up inside him and it finally clicks. He likes me. He's jealous.

We're together for barely a month before I move in. I satisfy him like Melinda never did. A year goes by before he proposes to me, but I stop him and say, "only with a prenup".

And that's when he knows it's true love. I set out to seduce him, but somewhere along the line he seduced me back. We fuck like rabbits till sunrise.

Something is missing, we can't have children together, but nothing's ever stopped Bill before. He funds 150 startups with promising biotechnology to allow two men to conceive a biological child. It's silly. Inane. Will there even be enough market demand to recoup all the research investment? It doesn't matter. He's doing this for us.

A short 3 years later, one of the experimental genetic techniques yields an embryo with a perfect mix of our DNA. It's a boy. The gays are jealous and demand access but it's a good 10 years before FDA approval for the public.

We spend a glorious 20 years together before Bill passes. So short, yet it felt like several lifetimes. Still, the grief is too much and I die of grief still holding his hand an hour later.

When I wake up, my memories come flooding back as I exit the simulation. My mind is a jumbled mess and my heart pounds in confusion, but I rip open my pod and find Bill there waiting. We cry into each other's arms and hold each other tight. Somehow, in that vast virtual world, we had found each other.

The media gets ahold of the preposterous story and calls it a hoax, a setup, a fraud. Among billions of people, we found each other and overcame all odds? Overcoming differences in age, class, sexuality... no one believes it except us.

We'll always find a way.

We're soulmates.

Which group of snobs do you have the biggest problem with? by a-horse-has-no-name in AskReddit

[–]ginsburgmodel 1002 points1003 points 23& 8 more (0 children)

Literally all of them. You can have preferences. I have preferences myself, actually.

But to claim that your preference somehow makes something better is just annoying. The best thing is the thing you can enjoy.

You can have fun riding a $200 bike. Some people enjoy McDonald's coffee. $6 wine gets you drunk. You can make bread without sourdough starter and it's DELICIOUS. People crossed the entire Atlantic ocean without one single item from Patagonia. So what if I only know 10 chords on the guitar and I got it off Craigslist? That's fine people, nobody wants to listen to me anyway! You can run without knowing your best time or even how long you ran. (Believe me, IT IS POSSIBLE, dogs do it all the time.) Is the art hanging on your wall from a local art market watercolor stand? Does it give you joy? Then it's beautiful!

I don't even get the point of snobbery. It's such a killjoy. Don't like it, don't eat it. I personally find life much more enjoyable with low standards.

And why yes, I have gone wine tasting in France, and had hand-picked African coffee, and I have ridden in a luxury vehicle, ridden a $5,000 bike, etc. I know what nice things are like.

I'd still rather drink imitation Nescafe, wear knockoff chuck taylors, and eat bread with preservatives in it covered in soy margarine sitting beside someone who has a good sense of humor, than have to endure life's luxuries next to a snob.

Nothing is as nice as a nice person.

You’ve been kidnapped. 30 mins later your kidnapper dumps you on the street because you won’t stop talking about what? by Elastic_Quatsch in AskReddit

[–]metalmike556 34.0k points34.0k points 22181619142& 75 more (0 children)

How excited I am to finally have been kidnapped and how long I've waited for this and how it's almost exactly like that movie with Alicia Silverstone and how she was in the Batman movie but wasn't very good even though Batman is a great character and Adam West was a hilarious Batman but was even better on Family Guy and that Family Guy is getting a little too overrated for my taste and speaking for taste can we stop for food because I'm hungry and when I get hungry I get cranky and a Snickers won't help even though Snickers is packed with peanuts, caramel and chocolate but not dark chocolate and I'm sure Snickers at one point did a dark chocolate version and if not I might be thinking about Milky Way Midnight bars and the Milky Way is so vast and huge and we have no idea how much further out it goes and...

Edit: Holy hell! I did not expect this to blow up like it did! Thank you to everyone that sent awards, gold and all the comments. I'm actively trying to read them all but the outpouring is amazing! I read a bunch to my wife and son last night and they were laughing their asses off. You all are some hilarious people. Thank you so much!

What's the happiest 5-word sentence you could hear? by squalorid in AskReddit

[–]BlakeClass 2964 points2965 points 232747832& 36 more (0 children)

Congratulations! You just won millions of dollars in the lottery! That's great.

Now you're fucked.

No really.

You are.

You're fucked.

If you just want to skip the biographical tales of woe of some of the math-tax protagonists, skip on down to the next comment. To see what to do in the event you win the lottery.

You see, it's something of an open secret that winners of obnoxiously large jackpots tend to end up badly with alarming regularity. Not the $1 million dollar winners. But anyone in the nine-figure range is at high risk. Eight-figures? Pretty likely to be screwed. Seven-figures? Yep. Painful. Perhaps this is a consequence of the sample. The demographics of lottery players might be exactly the wrong people to win large sums of money. Or perhaps money is the root of all evil. Either way, you are going to have to be careful. Don't believe me? Consider this:

Large jackpot winners face double digit multiples of probability versus the general population to be the victim of:

  1. Homicide (something like 20x more likely)

  2. Drug overdose

  3. Bankruptcy (how's that for irony?)

  4. Kidnapping

And triple digit multiples of probability versus the general population rate to be:

  1. Convicted of drunk driving

  2. The victim of Homicide (at the hands of a family member) 120x more likely in this case, ain't love grand?

  3. A defendant in a civil lawsuit

  4. A defendant in felony criminal proceedings

Believe it or not, your biggest enemy if you suddenly become possessed of large sums of money is... you. At least you will have the consolation of meeting your fate by your own hand. But if you can't manage it on your own, don't worry. There are any number of willing participants ready to help you start your vicious downward spiral for you. Mind you, many of these will be "friends," "friendly neighbors," or "family." Often, they won't even have evil intentions. But, as I'm sure you know, that makes little difference in the end. Most aren't evil. Most aren't malicious. Some are. None are good for you.

Jack Whittaker, a Johnny Cash attired, West Virginia native, is the poster boy for the dangers of a lump sum award. In 2002 Mr. Whittaker (55 years old at the time) won what was, also at the time, the largest single award jackpot in U.S. history. $315 million. At the time, he planned to live as if nothing had changed, or so he said. He was remarkably modest and decent before the jackpot, and his ship sure came in, right? Wrong.

Mr. Whittaker became the subject of a number of personal challenges, escalating into personal tragedies, complicated by a number of legal troubles.

Whittaker wasn't a typical lottery winner either. His net worth at the time of his winnings was in excess of $15 million, owing to his ownership of a successful contracting firm in West Virginia. His claim to want to live "as if nothing had changed" actually seemed plausible. He should have been well equipped for wealth. He was already quite wealthy, after all. By all accounts he was somewhat modest, low profile, generous and good natured. He should have coasted off into the sunset. Yeah. Not exactly.

Whittaker took the all-cash option, $170 million, instead of the annuity option, and took possession of $114 million in cash after $56 million in taxes. After that, things went south.

Whittaker quickly became the subject of a number of financial stalkers, who would lurk at his regular breakfast hideout and accost him with suggestions for how to spend his money. They were unemployed. No, an interview tomorrow morning wasn't good enough. They needed cash NOW. Perhaps they had a sure-fire business plan. Their daughter had cancer. A niece needed dialysis. Needless to say, Whittaker stopped going to his breakfast haunt. Eventually, they began ringing his doorbell. Sometimes in the early morning. Before long he was paying off-duty deputies to protect his family. He was accused of being heartless. Cold. Stingy.

Letters poured in. Children with cancer. Diabetes. MS. You name it. He hired three people to sort the mail. A detective to filter out the false claims and the con men (and women) was retained.

Brenda, the clerk who had sold Whittaker the ticket, was a victim of collateral damage. Whittaker had written her a check for $44,000 and bought her house, but she was by no means a millionaire. Rumors that the state routinely paid the clerk who had sold the ticket 10% of the jackpot winnings hounded her. She was followed home from work. Threatened. Assaulted.

Whittaker's car was twice broken into, by trusted acquaintances who watched him leave large amounts of cash in it. $500,000 and $200,000 were stolen in two separate instances. The thieves spiked Whittaker's drink with prescription drugs in the first instance. The second incident was the handiwork of his granddaughter's friends, who had been probing the girl for details on Whittaker's cash for weeks.

Even Whittaker's good-faith generosity was questioned. When he offered $10,000 to improve the city's water park so that it was more handicap accessible, locals complained that he spent more money at the strip club. (Amusingly this was true).

Whittaker invested quite a bit in his own businesses, tripled the number of people his businesses employed (making him one of the larger employers in the area) and eventually had given away $14 million to charity through a foundation he set up for the purpose. This is, of course, what you are "supposed" to do. Set up a foundation. Be careful about your charity giving. It made no difference in the end.

To top it all off, Whittaker had been accused of ruining a number of marriages. His money made other men look inferior, they said, wherever he went in the small West Virginia town he called home. Resentment grew quickly. And festered. Whittaker paid four settlements related to this sort of claim. Yes, you read that right. Four.

His family and their immediate circle were quickly the victims of odds-defying numbers of overdoses, emergency room visits and even fatalities. His granddaughter, the eighteen year old "Brandi" (who Whittaker had been giving a $2100.00 per week allowance) was found dead after having been missing for several weeks. Her death was, apparently, from a drug overdose, but Whittaker suspected foul play. Her body had been wrapped in a tarp and hidden behind a rusted-out van. Her seventeen year old boyfriend had expired three months earlier in Whittaker's vacation house, also from an overdose. Some of his friends had robbed the house after his overdose, stepping over his body to make their escape and then returning for more before stepping over his body again to leave. His parents sued for wrongful death claiming that Whittaker's loose purse strings contributed to their son's death. Amazingly, juries are prone to award damages in cases such as these. Whittaker settled. Again.

Even before the deaths, the local and state police had taken a special interest in Whittaker after his new-found fame. He was arrested for minor and less minor offenses many times after his winnings, despite having had a nearly spotless record before the award. Whittaker's high profile couldn't have helped him much in this regard.

In 18 months Whittaker had been cited for over 250 violations ranging from broken tail lights on every one of his five new cars, to improper display of renewal stickers. A lawsuit charging various police organizations with harassment went nowhere and Whittaker was hit with court costs instead.

Whittaker's wife filed for divorce, and in the process froze a number of his assets and the accounts of his operating companies. Caesars in Atlantic City sued him for $1.5 million to cover bounced checks, caused by the asset freeze.

Today Whittaker is badly in debt, and bankruptcy looms large in his future.

But, hey, that's just one example, right?

Wrong.

Nearly one third of multi-million dollar jackpot winners eventually declare bankruptcy. Some end up worse. To give you just a taste of the possibilities, consider the fates of:

  • Billie Bob Harrell, Jr.: $31 million. Texas, 1997. As of 1999: Committed suicide in the wake of incessant requests for money from friends and family. “Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me.

  • William âBud❠Post: $16.2 million. Pennsylvania. 1988. In 1989: Brother hires a contract murderer to kill him and his sixth wife. Landlady sued for portion of the jackpot. Convicted of assault for firing a gun at a debt collector. Declared bankruptcy. Dead in 2006.

  • Evelyn Adams: $5.4 million (won TWICE 1985, 1986). As of 2001: Poor and living in a trailer gave away and gambled most of her fortune.

  • Suzanne Mullins: $4.2 million. Virginia. 1993. As of 2004: No assets left.

  • Shefik Tallmadge: $6.7 million. Arizona. 1988. As of 2005: Declared bankruptcy.

  • Thomas Strong: $3 million. Texas. 1993. As of 2006: Died in a shoot-out with police.

  • Victoria Zell: $11 million. 2001. Minnesota. As of 2006: Broke. Serving seven year sentence for vehicular manslaughter.

  • Karen Cohen: $1 million. Illinois. 1984. As of 2000: Filed for bankruptcy. As of 2006: Sentenced to 22 months for lying to federal bankruptcy court.

  • Jeffrey Dampier: $20 million. Illinois. 1996. As of 2006: Kidnapped and murdered by own sister-in-law.

  • Ed Gildein: $8.8 million. Texas. 1993. As of 2003: Dead. Wife saddled with his debts. As of 2005: Wife sued by her own daughter who claimed that she was taking money from a trust fund and squandering cash in Las Vegas.

  • Willie Hurt: $3.1 million. Michigan. 1989. As of 1991: Addicted to cocaine. Divorced. Broke. Indicted for murder.

  • Michael Klingebiel: $2 million. As of 1998 sued by own mother claiming he failed to share the jackpot with her.

  • Janite Lee: $18 million. 1993. Missouri. As of 2001: Filed for bankruptcy with $700 in assets.

EDIT: Continued below due to character limit

What’s the best board game ever? by karg_the_fergus in AskReddit

[–]ImpracticallySharp 1001 points1002 points 333 (0 children)

Many people aren't aware that there's been a revolution in board game design in the last 25 years. The old "classics" like Risk, Monopoly, etc, tend to have design problems like:

  • a lack of interesting decisions (your choices are obvious or your fate is determined by random chance)
  • player elimination (so some players will have to leave the game early and don't get to play)
  • potentially unlimited playtime (so you can't tell if a game will take an hour to play, or six hours)
  • the winner being obvious long before the game ends

There are thousands of clever games out there that don't suffer from those design problems. Worldwide, 100 new tabletop games are released each week, and the market looks very different than it did just ten years ago.

According to Boardgamegeek.com (like IMDB, but for tabletop games), these are the ten best games:

The above list skews toward complex games that usually aren't the best entry point for new gamers, though. Here are some of the most popular gateway games for people new to board gaming:

And here are some more, that are a slight step up in complexity:

For more tips, go to r/boardgames or Boardgamegeek.com. Ars Technica also has a good guide here.

Those who have been to a ruined wedding, what happened? by lolfuckno in AskReddit

[–]TheGrumpyUncle 17.3k points17.3k points 2773& 18 more (0 children)

This didn't happen at a wedding, but at a 30 year wedding anniversary.

I was working as a waiter, at an Inn. We had ballrooms for private parties and other bigger events. The bride and groom had spared no expense. About a 100 guests, 5 course meal, an open bar, a whole day party. we where supposed to close it at 4 in the morning. It was grand, and one of the biggest parties, I had waited on so far.

After the main course, the Husband stood up, and held a speech. A long one.
He started out reminiscing of when they had met. Their early life together, the hard times they had endured. He then talked at length about how he loved the children, she had birthed him. And told each of them how proud he was of them, their character, and accomplishments.

So far it was one of the better speeches I had ever heard. It was heartfelt, he had a lot of charisma. He was well spoken, and funny.

But then he turned to his wife again. He told her that he had hated her for the last 4 years of their life together. That she was a toxic narcissistic cunt, that had made him feel miserable, and almost had driven him to suicide.

He told her, that he knew she had a lover. Pointed him out in the crowd, next to his wife and children. He had evidence and was suing for divorce, intending to take everything. He gave her the divorce papers right then and there.

Then he announced to everyone, that he had gotten, his own apartment. That movers had moved all his stuff while they where at the party, and that he would be leaving shortly. but everything was already paid for, so they should stay and enjoy themselves.

In the stunned silence that ensued, He tipped all staff. dishwashers, bosses, waiters, and busboys 200$ each and left.

needless to say, all except family had left the party, within the hour.

You just won a 656 Million Dollar Lottery. What do you do now? by DanielP123 in AskReddit

[–]BlakeClass 2073 points2074 points 25& 2 more (0 children)

Someone asked me to repost my comment from another thread here, so here you go. Thanks /u/snatcharelli

Congratulations! You just won millions of dollars in the lottery! That's great.

Now you're fucked.

No really.

You are.

You're fucked.

If you just want to skip the biographical tales of woe of some of the math-tax protagonists, skip on down to the next comment, to see what to do in the event you win the lottery.

You see, it's something of an open secret that winners of obnoxiously large jackpots tend to end up badly with alarming regularity. Not the $1 million dollar winners. But anyone in the nine-figure range is at high risk. Eight-figures? Pretty likely to be screwed. Seven-figures? Yep. Painful. Perhaps this is a consequence of the sample. The demographics of lottery players might be exactly the wrong people to win large sums of money. Or perhaps money is the root of all evil. Either way, you are going to have to be careful. Don't believe me? Consider this:

Large jackpot winners face double digit multiples of probability versus the general population to be the victim of:

  1. Homicide (something like 20x more likely)

  2. Drug overdose

  3. Bankruptcy (how's that for irony?)

  4. Kidnapping

And triple digit multiples of probability versus the general population rate to be:

  1. Convicted of drunk driving

  2. The victim of Homicide (at the hands of a family member) 120x more likely in this case, ain't love grand?

  3. A defendant in a civil lawsuit

  4. A defendant in felony criminal proceedings

Believe it or not, your biggest enemy if you suddenly become possessed of large sums of money is... you. At least you will have the consolation of meeting your fate by your own hand. But if you can't manage it on your own, don't worry. There are any number of willing participants ready to help you start your vicious downward spiral for you. Mind you, many of these will be "friends," "friendly neighbors," or "family." Often, they won't even have evil intentions. But, as I'm sure you know, that makes little difference in the end. Most aren't evil. Most aren't malicious. Some are. None are good for you.

Jack Whittaker, a Johnny Cash attired, West Virginia native, is the poster boy for the dangers of a lump sum award. In 2002 Mr. Whittaker (55 years old at the time) won what was, also at the time, the largest single award jackpot in U.S. history. $315 million. At the time, he planned to live as if nothing had changed, or so he said. He was remarkably modest and decent before the jackpot, and his ship sure came in, right? Wrong.

Mr. Whittaker became the subject of a number of personal challenges, escalating into personal tragedies, complicated by a number of legal troubles.

Whittaker wasn't a typical lottery winner either. His net worth at the time of his winnings was in excess of $15 million, owing to his ownership of a successful contracting firm in West Virginia. His claim to want to live "as if nothing had changed" actually seemed plausible. He should have been well equipped for wealth. He was already quite wealthy, after all. By all accounts he was somewhat modest, low profile, generous and good natured. He should have coasted off into the sunset. Yeah. Not exactly.

Whittaker took the all-cash option, $170 million, instead of the annuity option, and took possession of $114 million in cash after $56 million in taxes. After that, things went south.

Whittaker quickly became the subject of a number of financial stalkers, who would lurk at his regular breakfast hideout and accost him with suggestions for how to spend his money. They were unemployed. No, an interview tomorrow morning wasn't good enough. They needed cash NOW. Perhaps they had a sure-fire business plan. Their daughter had cancer. A niece needed dialysis. Needless to say, Whittaker stopped going to his breakfast haunt. Eventually, they began ringing his doorbell. Sometimes in the early morning. Before long he was paying off-duty deputies to protect his family. He was accused of being heartless. Cold. Stingy.

Letters poured in. Children with cancer. Diabetes. MS. You name it. He hired three people to sort the mail. A detective to filter out the false claims and the con men (and women) was retained.

Brenda, the clerk who had sold Whittaker the ticket, was a victim of collateral damage. Whittaker had written her a check for $44,000 and bought her house, but she was by no means a millionaire. Rumors that the state routinely paid the clerk who had sold the ticket 10% of the jackpot winnings hounded her. She was followed home from work. Threatened. Assaulted.

Whittaker's car was twice broken into, by trusted acquaintances who watched him leave large amounts of cash in it. $500,000 and $200,000 were stolen in two separate instances. The thieves spiked Whittaker's drink with prescription drugs in the first instance. The second incident was the handiwork of his granddaughter's friends, who had been probing the girl for details on Whittaker's cash for weeks.

Even Whittaker's good-faith generosity was questioned. When he offered $10,000 to improve the city's water park so that it was more handicap accessible, locals complained that he spent more money at the strip club. (Amusingly this was true).

Whittaker invested quite a bit in his own businesses, tripled the number of people his businesses employed (making him one of the larger employers in the area) and eventually had given away $14 million to charity through a foundation he set up for the purpose. This is, of course, what you are "supposed" to do. Set up a foundation. Be careful about your charity giving. It made no difference in the end.

To top it all off, Whittaker had been accused of ruining a number of marriages. His money made other men look inferior, they said, wherever he went in the small West Virginia town he called home. Resentment grew quickly. And festered. Whittaker paid four settlements related to this sort of claim. Yes, you read that right. Four.

His family and their immediate circle were quickly the victims of odds-defying numbers of overdoses, emergency room visits and even fatalities. His granddaughter, the eighteen year old "Brandi" (who Whittaker had been giving a $2100.00 per week allowance) was found dead after having been missing for several weeks. Her death was, apparently, from a drug overdose, but Whittaker suspected foul play. Her body had been wrapped in a tarp and hidden behind a rusted-out van. Her seventeen year old boyfriend had expired three months earlier in Whittaker's vacation house, also from an overdose. Some of his friends had robbed the house after his overdose, stepping over his body to make their escape and then returning for more before stepping over his body again to leave. His parents sued for wrongful death claiming that Whittaker's loose purse strings contributed to their son's death. Amazingly, juries are prone to award damages in cases such as these. Whittaker settled. Again.

Even before the deaths, the local and state police had taken a special interest in Whittaker after his new-found fame. He was arrested for minor and less minor offenses many times after his winnings, despite having had a nearly spotless record before the award. Whittaker's high profile couldn't have helped him much in this regard.

In 18 months Whittaker had been cited for over 250 violations ranging from broken tail lights on every one of his five new cars, to improper display of renewal stickers. A lawsuit charging various police organizations with harassment went nowhere and Whittaker was hit with court costs instead.

Whittaker's wife filed for divorce, and in the process froze a number of his assets and the accounts of his operating companies. Caesars in Atlantic City sued him for $1.5 million to cover bounced checks, caused by the asset freeze.

Today Whittaker is badly in debt, and bankruptcy looms large in his future.

But, hey, that's just one example, right?

Wrong.

Nearly one third of multi-million dollar jackpot winners eventually declare bankruptcy. Some end up worse. To give you just a taste of the possibilities, consider the fates of:

  • Billie Bob Harrell, Jr.: $31 million. Texas, 1997. As of 1999: Committed suicide in the wake of incessant requests for money from friends and family. “Winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me.

  • William âBud❠Post: $16.2 million. Pennsylvania. 1988. In 1989: Brother hires a contract murderer to kill him and his sixth wife. Landlady sued for portion of the jackpot. Convicted of assault for firing a gun at a debt collector. Declared bankruptcy. Dead in 2006.

  • Evelyn Adams: $5.4 million (won TWICE 1985, 1986). As of 2001: Poor and living in a trailer gave away and gambled most of her fortune.

  • Suzanne Mullins: $4.2 million. Virginia. 1993. As of 2004: No assets left.

  • Shefik Tallmadge: $6.7 million. Arizona. 1988. As of 2005: Declared bankruptcy.

  • Thomas Strong: $3 million. Texas. 1993. As of 2006: Died in a shoot-out with police.

  • Victoria Zell: $11 million. 2001. Minnesota. As of 2006: Broke. Serving seven year sentence for vehicular manslaughter.

  • Karen Cohen: $1 million. Illinois. 1984. As of 2000: Filed for bankruptcy. As of 2006: Sentenced to 22 months for lying to federal bankruptcy court.

  • Jeffrey Dampier: $20 million. Illinois. 1996. As of 2006: Kidnapped and murdered by own sister-in-law.

  • Ed Gildein: $8.8 million. Texas. 1993. As of 2003: Dead. Wife saddled with his debts. As of 2005: Wife sued by her own daughter who claimed that she was taking money from a trust fund and squandering cash in Las Vegas.

  • Willie Hurt: $3.1 million. Michigan. 1989. As of 1991: Addicted to cocaine. Divorced. Broke. Indicted for murder.

  • Michael Klingebiel: $2 million. As of 1998 sued by own mother claiming he failed to share the jackpot with her.

  • Janite Lee: $18 million. 1993. Missouri. As of 2001: Filed for bankruptcy with $700 in assets.

EDIT: Continued below due to character limit