10 Lottery Winners Who Died Tragically

As the old adage goes, money isn't everything. And for some people, it could be the worst thing. While winning the lottery may seem like a dream come true, not everyone who hits the jackpot goes on to live happily ever after. It's not uncommon to hear about a lottery winner who dies the next day or ends up broke only a few years later.

The big winner who suddenly has lots of money also has all types of unforeseen pressures... and, of course, newfound means that can get them into trouble. Many crack under the pressure or end up dealing with jealous family or loved ones, and (since money is no object) quite a few have turned to drugs. Unfortunately, some lottery winners are even murdered or killed during a robbery. Even the rich experience tragedy, and a few have died the next day after winning the jackpot. 

It seems there has been a curse on lottery big winners. Some winners have encountered strange deaths, lived tragedies, ended up as murder victims, committed suicide, or met an otherwise untimely death. Here's a list of 11 lottery winners who died tragically because of their winnings.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

  • 1

    Craigory Burch Jr.

    Craigory Burch Jr.
    Video: YouTube

    Craigory Burch Jr. won nearly half a million dollars from a Georgia lottery in November 2015. Just two months later, he was found dead in his home from gunshot wounds after a violent home invasion. Armed robbers entered the 20-year-old's home with masks and shotguns, demanding his money.

    According to his girlfriend, who ran for help during the robbery, Burch pleaded with them not to kill him in front of his kids. He told them they could have his bank card, but when the thieves couldn't find his wallet, they shot him and ran away. Burch had recently used some of his $434,272 Fantasy 5 winnings to buy Christmas presents for the less fortunate.

  • 2

    Urooj Khan

    Urooj Khan
    Video: YouTube

    Poor Urooj Khan should've kept his promise to himself. A lottery-ticket-buying addict, he'd sworn off buying lottery tickets. But the 46-year-old Chicagoan couldn't fight the urge; he had to buy one more. Bam! His ticket hit the million-dollar jackpot. Lucky son of a gun. 

    Deciding to cash out the ticket in one lump sum instead of installments, Khan waited with much anticipation for that first check of $425,000. Tragically, he never saw a dime of it. He suddenly dropped dead the day after his winnings were publicly announced. The coroner said it was natural causes. But a close family member wasn't buying it. Sure enough, another autopsy revealed that Khan died of cyanide poisoning. And after he was dead, his estate quickly cashed the check. Naturally, the local police department is now treating his death as a homicide; however, as of 2017, the case remains unsolved.   


  • Abraham Shakespeare
    Video: YouTube

    Another big winner, Abraham Shakespeare hit it large in the Florida state lotto for $30 million in 2006. Shakespeare lived it up for a couple of years, almost having spent all his money until he suddenly disappeared in 2006. His body was found under a concrete slab in April 2009.

    Suspicions turned to a woman Shakespeare was associated with who had apparently bilked him out of over a million dollars. She even convinced Shakespeare to sign over his assets to her. She was eventually charged in connection to his murder. 

  • 4

    Amanda Clayton

    Amanda Clayton
    Video: YouTube

    Single mom Amanda Clayton struck it rich hitting the lotto in Michigan for $1 million in 2011. A welfare recipient, Clayton had previously struggled to take care of her two kids. But greed is a strange thing. She was convicted of welfare fraud and sentenced to probation when it was discovered that she continued to receive food stamps after hitting the lotto.

    It could've been a bad drug habit that drove Clayton to deceive the government. Only 25 years old, she was found dead in 2012, likely due to a drug overdose. 

  • 5

    Ryan McKechnie

    It looked like life was offering Ryan McKechnie another chance when the 31-year-old hit the Irish lotto in 2012 for £40,000 (about 50,000 in US dollars). A former drug addict, McKechnie had already kicked the habit prior to winning and was in the midst of raising his three children alone after their mother died of drug-related causes in 2010. 

    Generous with his friends, however, the money was quickly gone, forcing McKechnie to struggle to make ends meet for himself and his family. Apparently, someone believed that he still had a stash of cash. He was found stabbed to death in his home in February 2014. 


  • 6

    Doris Murray

    All of Doris Murray's dreams were about to come true when she struck it rich, hitting the Georgia state lottery jackpot for $5 million. But unlike some other lotto winners who squander their money, the mother of four kept a low profile and continued to live modestly. Too bad she didn't have the greatest taste in men. 

    After she threatened to break up with her boyfriend, he stabbed her to death just a year after she won the lottery. Family and friends insist it was all over the money.