Tragedy for lottery millionaire’s cursed family

Jack Whitaker was a holy man so in 2002 when he won $314.9million in the power-ball multi state lottery he believed it was the work of the lord. But as reports, he soon believed that what followed could only have been the work of the devil as his whole world fell apart and a string of deaths brought tragedy to his family.

Jack Whittaker in happier times

Jack Whittaker in happier times

Whittaker was a successful businessman in the construction industry. Before his win he was already said to be worth $17million. He bought his lottery ticket on a whim after stopping for a breakfast sandwich in a local convenience store in West Virginia. He won $314.9million.

Having faith that God had bought him the good luck he pledged 10% of his winnings to Christian charities—including several churches in Southern West Virginia. One of the churches built a multi-million dollar church in Hurricane.

With the lord on his side, Whittaker set-up the $14million, Jack Whittaker Foundation which helped low income families in the area be fed and housed.

Whittaker also began to undertake random acts of kindness, and gave the woman who worked the counter where he bought his winning ticket a $123,000 house, a new Dodge Ram Truck and $50,000 cash.

Whittaker said he didn’t want or need the money himself but was looking forward to seeing it enjoyed by the people who meant the most to him in the world –  his wife, daughter and granddaughter.


In August, 2003 things began to go wrong for Whittaker. Whilst he was at a strip-club, thieves broke into his van and stole with $545,000 in cash. ]Two employees at the club, were later arrested and charged with a plot to drug and rob Whittaker.

Just over a year later, Jesse Tribble, 18, a boy romantically linked to his granddaughter was found dead in his home. No foul play was suspected and the coroner’s report stated he died from overdosing on a combination of oxycodone, methadone, meperidine and cocaine.

On December 20th 2004, his beloved granddaughter, Brandi Bragg, 17, was found dead on the property of one of her male friends after being reported missing 11 days earlier. Her body was wrapped inside a plastic tarp and dumped in the snow behind a van. No one was charged with the crime and it was believed that her boyfriend had dumped her body after she had overdosed.

In 2005, three years after the big win, Whittaker’s wife filed for divorce, ending nearly 42 years of marriage. This began a long-drawn out fight for Whittaker’s winnings.

Later that year, In October 2005, Whittaker was arrested for drunk driving. He lashed out at the police officers, saying: “Go after whoever killed my granddaughter with as much zealous [sic] as these butt holes are trying to convict me of something I didn’t do.”


At this time Caesers Atlantic City took up a law suit against Whittaker. They claimed that $1.5million worth of checks that he had cashed, had bounced. Whittaker began a counter claim stating that his loses were meant to be credited die to a slot machine he’d developed for the casino.

Two years later in January 2007 a woman who had previously sued Whittaker came forward and said she was not receiving money as Whittaker failed to comply with the terms of a Confidential Settlement and Release Agreement he entered into with French.

Whittaker claimed several people stole his checks and cashed them at 12 different branches of City National Bank, clearing his account. And by an uncanny coincidence, this was all unfolding at around the same time as relatives of Abraham Shaespeare, another tragic lottery winner, discovered a similar pattern of events.

After it was discovered the money had been taken, Whittaker’s attorney requested reimbursement for the checks, but the bank has refused to pay the total of the stolen $50,000.

In July 2009, the final blow to Whittaker’s misfortune took place. Ginger Whittaker Bragg, Jack’s daughter and the mother of Brandi Bragg, was found dead in West Virginia. Foul play was not suspected but a cause of death was never determined.

Jewel, Whittaker’s ex-wife echoed what several others have said in lottery stories: that she wished her husband never won the lottery. Had she known what was ahead, she said: “I would’ve torn up that ticket.”


Filed Under: Stories From America


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  1. […] tickets each won $1 million, which after tax left her with a hefty $1.4million. Not quite the $314million won by another Virgina Powerball player but a story with a much happier ending at […]