Don McNay: Powerball Jack, Michael Jackson, and Uncontrolled Wealth

Stop! the love you save may be your own.
Darling, take it slow
Or some day you’ll be all alone.

-Jackson Five

July 5, two days before Michael Jackson’s funeral, another person died too soon.

Ginger Bragg, the 42 year old daughter of West Virginia Powerball winner Jack Whitaker, was found dead.

Foul play is not suspected but the police are doing a toxicology report.

I’ve written dozens of columns about Jack Whitaker and devoted part of a book to him. I wrote about Jack because he was the shining example of how mishandling money can screw up your life.

Now, I really pity him.

He won $314 million but I wouldn’t trade my life for his. I don’t think a street beggar’s would trade lives with Jack.

Whitaker had everything and lost it.

Since Whitaker won the Powerball on Christmas Day 2002, nothing has right for him.

Jack’s 17 year old granddaughter died of an overdose and one of her friends died in Jack’s house. He’s been arrested for drunken driving and assault. He wasted money on stupid things, like booze and strippers. He has been sued hundreds of times. His wife, who filed for divorce, wishes Jack had torn up the winning ticket.

Now Jack has lost his daughter. If Jack could trade the $314 million to get his old life back, I am sure he would.

Whitaker and Michael Jackson had a common life thread. Money didn’t buy happiness. It was a major cause of their misery. Michael earned his money over a lifetime. Jack’s money came in one winning ticket.

Both had the pressures of unlimited money and unlimited demands.

I advise people who win the lottery to keep it confidential. I’ve known several lottery winners who set up a trust or setting up a corporation to shielded their identity. No one knows they won the lottery and no one ever will.

That keeps the posse of new found “friends” away. Both Whitaker and Jackson were surrounded by people not looking out for their best interests.

Hiding his wealth was not an option for Jackson but some famous people handle money well.

I don’t see Warren Buffet going on wild shopping sprees like Jackson or taking $600,000 to a strip club like Powerball Jack.

Warren Buffett has a tremendous sense of balance. He earned his money himself, over a long period of time and his closest advisers are intelligent, wealthy and grounded like he is.

They are looking for a friend, not a handout.

Micheal Jackson and Jack Whitaker needed some friends like that.

I’ve worked with people who receive sudden wealth, like lottery winners and people who receive injury settlements for 27 years.

The way to keep them from suffering the fate of Whitaker and Jackson is to put limits on how much money they can get at one time. Nothing else seems to work.

Unlimited amounts of anything are bad. Too much food will make you fat. Medicines can alleviate pain and ailments but too much at once can kill someone.

The same holds true with money.

Having enough money to live comfortably, support your family and contribute to the community is wonderful. Uncontrolled wealth brings on uncontrolled problems.

As the Jackson Five sang, “take it slow, or someday you’ll be all alone.”
Like Jack Whitaker is.

Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC is the founder of McNay Settlement Group, a structured settlement and financial consulting firm, in Richmond, Kentucky.

You can follow him on Facebook at

He is the author of Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You When The Lottery. You can write to Don at or read his award winning column at He is a frequent guest on television and radio talk shows.

McNay is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table.

Read more: Michael Jackson, Lottery, Lotteries, Lottery Winner, Millionaires, West Virginia, Kentucky, Don McNay, Powerball Winner, Sudden-Wealth, Jack Whitaker, Overdose, Structured Settlements, Fame, Money and Happiness, Ginger Bragg, Richmond Ky, Christi Bragg, Warren Buffett, Million Dollar Round Table, Son of a Son of a Gambler, Lottery Tickets, Lexington KY, Personal Finance, Business News

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