Jackpot! ... That's a Good Thing, Right?

Here's a statistic for the people of Lincoln as they await news of the $365 million lottery winner: Seventy percent of those who become suddenly wealthy squander it within a few short years, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education.

In this college town of 230,000 people, there is plenty of conversation about who may have won the lucky ticket purchased at a Lincoln convenience store. And there are plenty of suggestions for the lucky winner.

"If I know them, I'm going to hit them up for a loan," laughs Carl Jansen over a cup of coffee.

But at the next table over, Michelle Darcy hits on the very problem that has plagued lottery winners since big jackpots were first awarded.

"I think it'd be scary to be that person," she says. "Because you've got all your friends and family coming out of the woodwork and wanting a little piece of that lottery themselves."

In fact, state lottery officials here are blunt in their advice for the state's newly minted millionaire.

"Sign the ticket, put it in a safe place, take the phone off the hook, tell as few people as possible, talk to financial person, and come tell us," says Tom Johnson of the Nebraska Lottery.

Riches to Rags

It is advice that comes from experience. The record books are filled with previous lottery winners who've squandered their millions.

One of the saddest stories of a former winner is that of William "Bud" Post III, who died last month of respiratory failure at the age of 66.

The former Pennsylvania lottery winner called it the "lottery of death" despite his $16.2 million winnings. He used the money to start businesses with siblings -- but they all failed. His own brother was convicted of trying to kill him. His sixth wife moved out, and an on-again, off-again girlfriend successfully sued for a third of Post's winnings. At one point, Post was convicted of assault for firing a shotgun over a bill collector's head.

John Lacher, a bankruptcy lawyer who assisted Post, said he was like "The Beverly Hillbillies."

"He did everything you would expect of a guy who became a millionaire overnight," Lacher says.

A similar case comes out of New Jersey, where in the mid-'80s a woman won more than $5 million. Today, the money is gone and the former millionaire lives in a trailer.

"I won the American dream but I lost it, too," the former winner has been quoted as saying. "It was a very hard fall. It's called rock bottom

She says some of the money was gambled away, but millions more were lost by simply never saying "no" to friends and relatives who seemed to always "have a hand out."

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