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

What is Inflation?

Why do prices go up?

View Course »

Goal Setting

Want to succeed? Then you need goals!

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

413 Comments

Filter by:
Sandy James

Money Spell Win Lottery spell Business spell | Lotto spell call +2348161554365
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 financed in many ways. We can help with business spells, lottery spells, getting people to pay you back and gambling spells.
Little Lottery Spell- Are you looking for a jackpot win on either a scratch off ticket or the little lottery? This spell can be directed at either type of lottery game in your area to produce a onetime jackpot win. 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.
Double Power Gambling Spell - Are you a big gambler and want to make sure that you win over and over?
This spell will bring several large wins at the casino playing table games and slot machines.
Call Dr olokum on +2348161554365 or email him on drolokumspelltemple@gmail.com

July 02 2015 at 5:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Robin

I want to use this opportunity to 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. DESTING 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 winners. i win $107million. dr.DESTINY truly you are the best, with these man you can will millions of money through lottery. so contact him if you want to winning the way i win,is email address:greatdestinylottohome@yahoo.com This is one of the best thing that has every happen to me in my life cause this is my first time ever to play lottery and i win.greatdestinylottohome@yahoo.com is the only answer to that your problem of winning the lottery...

April 26 2015 at 11:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anderson Alicia

My boyfriend of two years left me for another girl because I accuse him of seeing another girl and since then i have been trying to get him but he refuse to come back to me, he was not responding to my call or email and he even unfriend me on face-book and he told me that he is done with me. i was searching on the internet for help and i saw a testimony of how a spell caster help them to get their ex back so i decided to give it a try and i contacted him and i explain my problems to him and he cast a love spell for me and guarantee me of 3days that my ex will come back to me and to my greatest surprise the third day a great miracle fell on me and my ex come back to me on the third day and he beg me for forgiveness greatoririobaspellhome@gmail.com i will continue to publish his name because he is my Savior and we are happily married now. If you need him to help you Email greatoririobaspellhome@gmail.com

April 24 2015 at 12:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Leo Jerry

Hello everyone here on inter-nite This is my first time to believe a VOODOO SPELL CASTER, I used to be a very poor man who has always not find luck when it comes to playing the lottery, I have been playing lottery since i was 26 years and now i am 33,years meaning i have been playing the lottery for 9 years. The biggest fund i have ever won in my life was 350 $ . But one day my story turns to history after i find this man name Dr LUCKY on the Internet that he is the best when it comes to winning of lottery. This man is a very strong voodoo doctor who gives out the numbers that can never fail. After all my years of laboring and struggling to win the lottery i finally won ( $73,000,000) Dr LUCKY is the name, email is drluckysolutionspelltemple@yahoo.com he is the only way to win the lottery and it is the best on VOODOO spell for wining lottery Dr LUCKY is the best VOODOO spell caster to be trust okay EMAIL HIM NOW drluckysolutionspelltemple@yahoo.com .

April 23 2015 at 11:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joyce Henry

Hello viewers my name is Joyce Henry 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 woman who believe that one day i will win the lottery.finally my dreams came through when i email DR.BEST and tell him i need the lottery winning 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 the lucky winners. i win 1.100.000 million pounds. email DR. BEST rich him via email . drbestsolutionhomeofspelltemple@yahoomail.com, DR BEST 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 Drbestsolutionhomeofspelltemple@yahoomail.com

April 21 2015 at 4:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Robin

I want to use this opportunity to 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. DESTING 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 winners. i win $107million. dr.DESTINY truly you are the best, with these man you can will millions of money through lottery. so contact him if you want to winning the way i win,is email address:greatdestinylottohome@yahoo.com This is one of the best thing that has every happen to me in my life cause this is my first time ever to play lottery and i win.greatdestinylottohome@yahoo.com is the only answer to that your problem of winning the lottery...

April 10 2015 at 3:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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.

March 31 2015 at 6:17 AM 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

March 28 2015 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.

March 27 2015 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,

March 26 2015 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply