Lottery winner is a loser in life

The parable of Buddy Post is one that should be printed on the back of every lottery ticket. Like the health warning on packets of cigarettes, it would remind players that even if - by some remote chance - they should land the jackpot, the effect on their lives could be ruinous.

Mr Post is a former carnival-ride operator who in 1988 won $16.2m (pounds 10.5m) in the Pennsylvania state lottery. He still has about $5m (pounds 3.2m) due him in annual payments, but so cursed has been his life by his supposed good fortune that he intends auctioning off those payments later this month.

True, Mr Post, 58, is still in the mansion he bought north of Pittsburgh, and the gas and the telephone are still connected. But the pool is full of rubbish, the rooms are unfurnished and downstairs is stacked with bankruptcy papers.

The misfortunes that have befallen Mr Post in the past eight years have been so numerous as to be almost funny. Indeed, he has sold the film rights to a Hollywood studio that wants to hire Jack Lemmon to portray him. He has been convicted of assault, his sixth wife has left him, he has been the victim of a murder plot hatched by his brother, he has had to give one-third of his winnings to a former landlady who claimed partial ownership of the winning ticket and he is bankrupt.

"Money didn't change me. It changed people around me that I knew, that I thought cared a little about me," he said. "But they only cared about the money. I didn't know it was going to escalate into some kind of nightmare."

With the planned auction of his remaining payments on 26 September, Mr Post is hoping to raise enough money to a pay off his debts and buy his mansion outright. Even in this he may be frustrated. The Pennsylvania Lottery is considering blocking the sale on the grounds that it would amount to illegal trading of lottery futures.

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