How One Lottery Winner Blew Through $10 Million in Less Than 10 Years

×
A porttrait of Sharon Tirabassi, who won more than $10 million in the lottery in 2004. She now rides the Barton Street bus to work, a part-time job to support her kids in a rented house in northeast Hamilton.

With a $338 million Powerball ticket having been sold in New Jersey -- the fourth-largest jackpot in Powerball history -- it's a good time to remember that the sudden gains of a lottery windfall can be fleeting.

Imagine, for instance, winning $10 million and having almost none of it left less than a decade later.

It happened to Sharon Tirabassi, a 35 year-old resident of Hamilton, Ontario. Nine years ago, The Hamilton Spectator reports, Tirabassi cashed a check from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. for $10,569,00.10 (Canadian). Today, after spending almost all her winnings -- "big house, fancy cars, designer clothes, lavish parties exotic trips, handouts to family, loans to friends" -- she's back in the working class: riding the bus, working part-time, living in a rented house.

What remains of her windfall is in trust for her six children; the money will become available when they turn 26.

"The moment I got it, I divided it among my family," Tirabassi told The Spec: $1 million to her parents, and $1.75 million among her four siblings. She was generous with others, too, buying houses and renting them out at low rates, paying people's rent, offering loans for bail and business ventures.

"All of that other stuff was fun in the beginning, now it's like ... back to life."

That other stuff included vacations in Cancun, Florida, Las Vegas, California, and the Caribbean, as well as four cars: a Hummer, a Mustang, a Dodge Charger and a custom Cadillac Escalade.



Tirabassi was a single mother, recently off welfare and newly employed as a personal care provider, when she struck it rich on Easter Weekend in 2004. As a teenager, she had lived in shelters, and all that money didn't come with instructions. Tirabassi didn't hire a financial adviser; she didn't even keep close track of her account balance. Suddenly, with just $750,000 left, Tirabassi woke up: "that was just time for fun to stop and to just go back to life."

Tirabassi's husband, Vinny, who brought three kids of his own to the marriage, shares her stoicism about the couple's lost fortune. He says he lived simply his whole life and is used to not being rich. Recalling the post-winning entreaties of suddenly interested friends, some of whom came asking for favors and then disappeared, Vinny says, "Money doesn't buy you happiness. It caused her a lot of headaches." His wife had a hard time saying no to those she thought of as in need: "That's the way I was brought up," she says. "Help those who can't help themselves."

For the complete story of the couple's financial descent, head over to The Spec.com, and check out the paper's 2007 interview with Tirabassi, when she had already spent half of her winnings.

Tirabassi's experience stands in contrast to that of Sandra Hayes, who pocketed around $6 million when she and a dozen coworkers split a $224 million Powerball jackpot in 2006. (Watch Hayes tell her story in the video below.)

Like Tirabassi, Hayes went on a spending spree -- including a boat, an Escalade and a Mercedes -- but she also paid off her mortgage and student loans, and was leery about handouts to friends and relatives. Today, Hayes lives comfortably but not extravagantly.

"I love a good deal, I'm on a budget, I save my money," she says. "I try not to live above my means." Her warning to the newly rich: "If you're not disciplined, you'll go broke. I don't care how much money you have."

Hayes sounds as though she might have taken lessons from Six Tips on How to Avoid Squandering a Financial Windfall. For more advice, check out these Powerball winners' lessons on how to hang on to your cash, whether you're a millionaire or just trying to make ends meet.

American Jackpots: Sandra Hayes


Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Managing your Portfolio

Keeping your portfolio and financial life fit!

View Course »

Goal Setting

Want to succeed? Then you need goals!

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

407 Comments

Filter by:
Sada Marksys

Hello everyone, i am an one of the Agents sent by the Lord superior (Grand master) to bring as many of those who are interested in becoming a member of the great Illuminati order,, i do business, I own a Construction company, and i also own one of the Biggest Electronic Appliance shop, and my family now lives in USA, i was once like you, me & my wife were financially down to 1 square meal a day, what kind of life was that to live, I lived in poverty until i saw an opportunity to be a member of the GREAT TEMPLE OF ILLUMINATI BROTHERHOOD and i took my chances and i have been a member for close to 10 years now. The higher you get the richer you become Illuminati, it makes your business grow faster than you can ever imagine, illuminati brings out the talent in you and make you famous, as you become a member of illuminati order you will receive 2,000,000 US DOLLARS instantly on your Bank Account, there are many more other benefits you stand to gain, so if you are interested to be a member contact me now on +2347056024545 or our EMAIL churchofdevililluminati@gmail.com JOIN US TODAY & BECOME RICH, POWERFUL AND FAMOUS ALL YOUR LIFE.

6 hours ago Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Elene Deri

My name is Elena Deri. I am from Canada, I have great joy in me as i am writing this testimony about the great man called Dr. Trust When my lover left me i never taught that i will be able to get him back after all he has put me through, But i am so happy that after the interference of Dr. Trust i was able to get my lover back after 48hours and i can proudly to say, that who ever need help in getting there lover back should contact Dr. Trust on these contact details below Ultimatespellcast@gmail.com for proper understanding of what i have just witness. And i promise that he will help you as he help me. or ultimatespellcast@yahoo.com call +2348156885231

Saturday at 11:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marcous Smith

Hello viewers my name is Marcus Smith i am here to testify of the goodness that the great spell caster called DR LUGARD the great powerful VOODOO spell caster did for me i am very grateful sharing this great testimonies with you, The best thing that has ever happened in my life is how i win the lottery. I am a man who believe that one day i will win the lottery.finally my dreams came through when i email DR LUGARD. and tell him i need the lottery numbers. i have come a long way spending money on ticket just to make sure i win. But i never know that winning was so easy until the day i meant the spell caster online which so many people has talked about that he is very great in casting lottery spell, so i decide to give it a try.I contacted this man and he did a spell and he gave me the winning lottery numbers. But believe me when the draws were out i was among lucky winners. i win 1,100.000 million pounds. DR LUGARD truly you are the best, with these man you can will millions of money through lottery. i am so very happy to meet these man, i will forever be grateful to you. Email him for your own winning lottery numbers endofpainspelltemple@gmail.com or drlugardendofpainspelltemple@gmail.com or call him +2347037098000. Marcus Smith from uk.

Friday at 10:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Raj Thomas

Here comes an Affordable loan that will change your life for ever,
I am Mr. Raj Thomas a certified loan lender, I offer loan to
individual and public sector that are in need of financial Assistance
in a low interest rate of 2%. Bad credit acceptable,The Terms and
Conditions are very simple and considerate.You will never regret
anything in this loan transaction because i will make you smile.

I Mr. Raj Thomas, will render the best of my services to all
legitimate borrowers.You will never be disappointed by me in this
transaction because you were not born to be a loser.Any interested
clients should contact me Asap via Email(rajthomasloanfirm@gmail.com)
for further proceeds.

Please fill the below application form and get back if interested and
you will be glad of knowing a loan lender like Mr. Raj Thomas.

BORROWER'S DATA

1)Full Names:
2)Country:
3)address:
4)State:
5)Sex:
6)Marital Status:
7)Occupation:
8)Phone Number:
10)Monthly income:
11)Next of Kin:
12)Loan Amount Needed:
13)Loan Duration:
14)Purpose of Loan:

As soon as you fill the form above, I will send you my loan Terms And
Conditions Asap in order for us to proceed.

I will be looking forward to hear from you so as to proceed.
With Regards,

Thursday at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eva Sally

I am Eva Sally, I want to use this possible means to appreciate one man i hold in sincere gratitude and high esteem for his help and his kindness he has rendered to me. I want to say A BIG THANK YOU to dr.trust, indeed you are the WORLD GREATEST. without compromising words, dr.trust helped me in getting back my long lost relationship. he did a perfect job by casting a spell on my ex which made him to come back to me and beg for forgiveness. He now love me and treat me very good. friends out here please i plead with you search no further for spammers who act as real spell casters, the REALEST AND MOST TRUE SPELL CASTER is DR.TRUST THE WORLD GREATEST. he is so true to his words and his words are substantial.email him Ultimatespellcast@yahoo.com or Ultimatespellcast@gmail.com call him +2348156885231

Wednesday at 7:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Raj Thomas

Good day ladies and gentle men am Mr. Raj Thomas a God fearing and honest loan lender who can change your life from bad to Good i want you to understand the fact that i give my loans out in a low interest rate of 2%. Bad credit acceptable,The Terms and Conditions are very simple and considerate.You will never regret in this loan transaction because i will make you smile through out this transaction, because you where not born to be a loser my terms and conditions are very simple what are you waiting for asap why don't you try Mr. Raj Thomas loan company and be free from debts, contact me Asap via Emai:(rajthomasloanfirm@gmail.com) for further proceeds.


Please fill the below application form and get back if interested and
you will be glad of knowing a loan lender like Mr. Raj Thomas

BORROWER'S DATA

1)Full Names:
2)Country:
3)address:
4)State:
5)Gender:
6)Marital Status:
7)Occupation:
8)Phone Number:
9)Monthly income:
10)Loan Amount Needed:
11)Loan Duration:
12)Purpose of Loan:


I will be looking forward to hear from you so as to proceed.

Kind Regards

Mr. Raj Thomas

February 27 2015 at 5:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jordan Mark

Hello my name is Mark Lucas, from USA, i am here to testify on how Dr Iyaryi help me on Lottery Spell-Are you looking for a jackpot win on either a scratch off ticket or the little lottery contact Dr Iyaryi today all your pains will be over okay Dr Iyaryiis here to help you out okay? This spell can be directed at either type of lottery game in your area to produce a onetime jackpot win. When you do not have the financial freedom to do as you wish life can take a toll on you and your family. Money spell can help increase finance in many ways. We can help with business spells, lottery spells, getting people to pay you back and gambling spells. Better Odds Gambling Spell – Do you go to the casinos and gamble frequently? This spell will increase the odds of your natural win when you go to gamble. You will see larger, more frequent wins. Prosperity Spell – Are you looking for an increased income? This spell will help you in all aspects of your life financially. Whether it be getting a salary increase, better luck gambling or more business coming your way, this spell will help get it done right the first time. For more Info Call Dr Iyaryi on Email; driayaryi2012@hotmail.com . For all your problems and pains to be over .

February 25 2015 at 10:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lisa Alan

!!! How Dr.Ukaka Save My Broken Heart Of Marriage Today !!!


Glorious be unto Dr. Ukaka the great man and ever, my name is Sarah from Taxes city usa. since 1 and a half year I have witness what is called heart broken. my boyfriend that promised me marriage failed me and impregnate me and leave,he dump me,he stop calling" he stop picking my calls,and he no longer respond to me. I have be looking for solution,I fall into the hands of fake spell caster,they rough me off and took my money without help.I have cried,I have weep"and tears runs out of eyes. The silentness in my heart brought me to the deepest path of failure that I lost my job. Crying all day,because of my life was lonely. So thanks to Ukaka that came into my life and brought me the greatest joy that was lost. I saw his mail while browsing and I contact and tell him what I am passing through with no doubt because what saw about him,was enough to believe. And I was given words of solution on what to do. I can't really help thinking about it I have tried to see what I can do, I manage to provide him some materials and he help me with the rest,after casting the spell, 12hrs later he came with rose on his hand and I was even about going out,i saw him in front of my door when he sees me he knee and said he is dying I should forgive him and accept him back he was crying,I can't wait to let him finish I quickly crab him and kiss him, just then" he said he is restless without me, just as the prophet has said he will be. He brought out a ring and put it on my hand. Our wedding day was scheduled,1week after we got married. today makes it 2weeks and we are living happily I don't know how to praise him enough, he has done me a thing I can never forget. And I can't really share to myself alone, I want y'all to help me praise him because if it is wasn't for him I already plan of committing suicide. But right now I am now so happy more than I was before. And you out there crying for help you've already got one,Ukaka is the man that you need in all rampart. contact his address if you need his service, freedomlovespell@hotmail.com also contact him on his web site: freedomlovespelltemple.yolasite.com

July 19 2014 at 9:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Larry Smith

Here is my testimony i have been palying lottery for three years and i have not winning, The last time i won big was 5000USD and that was a year ago but last week a friend of my introduced me to a spell caster from africa and i was told that he can help me through the use of traditional voodoo i did not believe it and i say let me just give a try to know how real it . My friend the spell caster told me to get the ticket and play the lottery and i won $107million now my name is all over the globe in the virgina lottery win there is nofin i can do much than to thank Dr UKO of ukospelltemple@yahoo.com cause he alone i believe can make you win. I promise that i will make people know about him and that is what i am doing online now contact him today and be happy ukospelltemple@yahoo.com

March 19 2014 at 6:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JaruNet Goddy

POWERFUL MONEY SPELLS, call: +919650553766
Email:odudutemple.spiritualist@gmail.com
SPIRITUALLY YOUR PROBLEM HAS BEEN SOLVED,
This is the season and the hour of your total transformation and perfection.As the resurrection power manifests in your life today,the world shall see and marvel at the awakening in your life. Resurrection is a supernatural and glorious change of position no matter the depressing and nu-dignifying position the enemy has placed in your life you are arising out of that position today you will experience a dramatic change.

You need money and you need it now. There are bills to pay, things you want in life. This powerful money spell can bring them to you. Tired of having to wait because you have bills to pay and no money to do it? This no debt, more money spell is powerful enough to influence your financial freedom.
Want to be able to live the life you want? Not be restricted by money? Using powerful money spells has significant increase in the stimulus around you to attract more money. You want this spell so you can stop worrying about having nothing in the bank. Many have used this to gain their financial edge.
Money Spells: Truth You don’t have to live life this way. There is more to life then stressing out over buying food, paying bills and wishing you had more money for the movies. Use my powerful money spell towards gaining the power to do more in life!
Facts about the money spell;
• Powerful Money Spell for getting out of debt
• Money spells will allow you more freedom to do activities, hobbies and fun
• Own a car and a house
• Buy new clothes and accessories
• Show family and friends you have a successful life
• Request spell and submit your details for casting at the end.
• This spell will be completely customized to your situation.
• My spells are completely safe and will not backfire or cause any harm.
• This spell is a 100% Guarantee for your situation.
• I believe in providing a very personalize service and I offer full customer support.
• All information will remain confidential.
• Best satisfaction policy and highest success rate.
• This spell is permanent and will not fade over time
If you are interested in Money Rituals,You will get a wooden box that can contain $10,000.00 dollars OR $20,000.00 dollars when you receive the MAGNETIC MONEY DRAWING TALISMAN from me then you put it inside the box and place $100.00 on top of it and you now place the box under your bed where you will sleep and you resits the magical word i will give to you.Then the next morning the $100 dollars will be multiply to $10,000,00 dollars
please note in the morning if you take the multiplied money from the box you must leave the initial placed $100 dollars inside the box for you to know it you will copy the number of the first dollar you placed on the MAGNETIC MONEY DRAWING TALISMAN.The money will multiply only when you place the box under your bed where you will sleep that night and you resits the magical word.if you don't want

March 18 2014 at 2:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply