The Lottery

It was Christmas Day, the enormous Powerball jackpot had created a ticket-buying frenzy that peaked at 3:30 that afternoon in convenience stores and gas stations all across West Virginia, 15 people per second were commemorating Jesus’ birthday by plunking down dollar bills for a chance at a different kind of salvation.

Jack Whittaker was among the masses that day who choose to try his luck,

The next morning Jack snapped on the television and heard, to his surprise, that the winning ticket had been sold at the C&L Super Serve. Jack Whittaker had just won $314 million, the largest undivided lottery jackpot in history.

Jack’s big win was viewed as one of the greatest Christmas gifts in his poor state’s history, a holiday miracle to be heralded around the globe. Jack proclaimed that he would tithe a biblical 10 percent of his winnings, donate millions to his family’s favorite pastors and build big new churches. He vowed to start a charitable foundation to help needy West Virginians. “I just want to thank God for letting me pick the right numbers . . . or letting the machine pick the right numbers,” he said as he claimed his check.

Civic-minded citizens hailed Jack as a hero.  Asked if he considered himself a role model, he replied: “I want to be a good example. I want to make people proud of what happens with this winning. I want to promote goodwill and help people.”

It was the greatest Christmas gift he could have wished for … or at least that is what He thought.

What began as a seemed blessing, quickly turned into a curse.  Jim recently said in an interview…”Since I won the lottery, I think there is no control for greed…I wish I’d torn that ticket up.”

Jack didn’t become the hero he’d hoped to be, even after giving more than 50 million dollars away to help people…jack found himself as an alcoholic and compulsive gambler with no friends and a broken family.

Jack would have never guessed that winning the lottery that Christmas would result in several arrests for drunk driving, and fighting, or 640 lawsuits and countless negative news reports all destroying his reputation or that of his business he worked so hard to build.  He would have never guessed that the money would result in a divorce from his wife of Forty years, all while watching his daughter die of cancer – not even the money could save her.  However the hardest curse to bare was sitting in a church on Christmas eve, two years after winning, for the funeral of his beloved 16 year old grand-daughter. She had been missing days, until her body was found wrapped in a plastic tarp and left in a ditch.  She had died of a drug overdose. Jack blamed the money for corrupting her pure heart.

Today Jack Whittaker contends that… “Family is what is dear,” “I don’t know where it’ll end. But you know, I just don’t like Jack Whittaker. I don’t like the hard heart I’ve got. I don’t like what I’ve become.”

Jesus asked a multitude-  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

I have no doubt that Jack would return all 314 million if he thought it would bring back his grand daughter.  Hind sight is 20/20.  Today Jack looks back and wisely says, “There is no control for the greed.”  7 years ago, looking into a future with unimaginable riches, all he could see was the potential Good. 


Do a search on Google and you’ll find that far too many big lottery winners, turn out to be big losers in life.  Still, when I’m buying my vanilla coke, and a snickers at the QT, there’s Bubba, dropping 1, 5, 10 dollars of his hard earned cash on a lottery ticket — why? 

He’s searching for treasure…Just like the rest of us.

You may have never played the lottery, or even held a ticket in your hand, but not all treasure is pursued inside convince stores and not all treasure is diamonds and gold.  Maybe your treasure is fame.  Maybe it’s popularity and lots of friends.  Perhaps your looking for love or simply finding meaning, in what seems like a lot of meaninglessness

Everyone is looking for some kind of treasure, but are you in search of real treasure? 

Life is Like a Coin, You can spend however you want, but you can only spend it once. Once it’s spent…it’s gone.

So be wise, spend it well, your life is worth more than you realize and only one treasure that will bring true happiness.  Don’t reach the end of your life and look back on a lot of wasted time. Make up your mind that you’ll look ahead, make the right choices today to spend your life well.  Don’t gamble it away hoping fame, fortune, friends, will somehow find you in the luck of the draw.


Check out this 20/20 story about Jack Whittaker

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