Everyone dreams of winning the lottery, but not everyone can handle the consequences of striking it rich. Time and time again, winners have squandered their jackpots, and the story of Todd Reichenbach is no exception: His life was completely ruined after he won $7 on a scratch-off lottery ticket.
Wow. Lucking into $7 sounds nice—until you learn what it can cost you.
The devastating story began earlier this year when Todd spontaneously bought a Pot O’ Gold scratch-off ticket at his local gas station, only to match three shamrocks and watch his net worth shoot up $7 in one fortuitous instant. Overcome with excitement, Todd cashed in the scratch-off and immediately headed to his office to quit his data entry job, cursing out a group of his coworkers before urinating in his boss’s parking space on the way out. After stopping at the bank to deposit his five-plus dollars in winnings, he filed for divorce from his wife, flush with his newly won $7 and ready to start a new life devoid of worries about work and money. Unfortunately, the celebration wouldn’t last long—Todd’s good luck had put him on the road to serious misfortune.
Todd soon made the mistake of bragging about his scratch-off win on Facebook, and it wasn’t long before people from his past began pouring out of the woodwork to try to get their hands on some of his nearly $10 in winnings. Everyone from ex-girlfriends, to an old baseball coach, to classmates he hadn’t spoken with in over a decade were stopping by Todd’s home to congratulate him and then nonchalantly ask if he could spare $3 for a pack of Altoids, since after all, he could certainly afford it. Todd became unable to leave his house without an estranged acquaintance trying to befriend him for access to his $7—and sadly, things would only get worse.
With his trust worn thin, Todd turned to the one person he knew he could rely on: his older brother and lifelong best friend, Erik, who flew out from Florida to advise his brother on managing his $7 for the future. But money soon turned the relationship sour. By the end of the trip, Erik was behind bars for attempting to murder Todd for what he considered his “rightful share” of the $7 winnings, which he had planned to invest in a game of Texas Hold ’Em on one of Facebook’s poker apps.
Just devastating. This is a cautionary tale if we’ve ever heard one.
The nail in the coffin came when Todd married an opportunistic young woman, who divorced him after just a month of marriage—but not before using every last penny of his $7 on a two-pack of Burt’s Bees chapstick. Now a divorcé on top of the rest of his bad luck, Todd was single, jobless, and ready to file for bankruptcy.
With that, the “curse of the lottery” had taken its toll, and Todd’s fall from fortune was complete. Today he is unemployed and living on his parents’ couch—a far cry from the carefree life he imagined living out the day he won that ill-fated $7. It just goes to show that winning almost $10 on a scratch-off ticket can change your life, but that change can easily be for the worse if you aren’t cautious. Be careful what you wish for, indeed.