David Lee Edwards: Lottery Winner to Bankruptcy

Although winning the lotto may appear to be a fairy tale, not all lottery winners live happily ever after. Many lottery winners are broke as a result of reckless spending, donating, partying, and gambling. Unfortunately, David Lee Edwards’ narrative follows a similar path.

David Lee Edwards, who is he?

David Lee Edwards was a man from Ashland, Kentucky, who had his life flipped upside down after winning the Powerball game. Edwards had led a hard life and was a convicted felon when he won the Kentucky Powerball prize in 2001. He had spent over a third of his life in prison, according to reports. Edwards was unemployed and lived with his then-girlfriend Shawna, who is 19 years his junior, before winning the lotto. To pay his water bill, he borrowed money from a buddy. He used the rest of his money to get his water turned on and to buy a pizza and $7 worth of lottery tickets at Clark’s Pump-N-Shop.

Edwards reflected enthusiastically on his achievement while taking a ceremonial cheque in front of the media, claiming it was a poor man’s dream come true. He mentioned how he’d done some horrible things in the past but had recently changed his ways and was now living a happy, productive life. When asked how he planned to spend his newfound wealth, Edwards said he intended to act modestly in order to provide a secure future for his then-fiancée and daughter. His good intentions, however, were swiftly forgotten.

What was David Edwards’ winnings?


David Lee Edwards won a $27 million Powerball jackpot in August 2001. He chose the one-time payment rather than the annual instalments when he won. 

Edwards wanted to do the right thing. He committed to use his money carefully on the day he officially claimed his wins.

‘You know; a lot of people are unemployed.’ ‘He doesn’t have much,’ he told reporters.

‘So I didn’t want to take this money and say, ‘I’m going to buy houses and cars and do this and that.’ I’d like to receive it in a humble manner.

To assist him, he recruited a lawyer and a financial adviser. His adviser, James Gibbs, later informed the media that his counsel might have guaranteed Edwards a monthly allowance of $85,000 for the rest of his life. Edwards, on the other hand, disobeyed Gibbs’ advise and spent $3 million within three months of getting his funds. He also sold all of the bonds and stocks in which Gibbs had put his money.

What did he do with all of his cash?


  1. Edwards purchased a $1.6 million, 6,000-square-foot home in a gated tennis and golf enclave in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, shortly after winning. He spent $600,000 on a new home in the neighborhood.
  2. He bought a Learjet for $1.9 million to fly between his house in Florida and his hometown in Kentucky.
  3. Purchased three racehorses that were in the midst of a losing streak.
  4. For a total of $4.5 million, Edwards purchased two businesses: a fiber optics installation company and a limo service.
  5. He paid his ex-wife $500,000 when Tiffani, his adolescent daughter was handed over to him.
  6. Edwards began collecting automobiles as well, purchasing a $200,000 Lamborghini Diablo and a $90,000 Dodge Viper. He even bought his adolescent daughter Tiffani a $35,000 Hummer golf buggy when she was still too young to drive. A publication once said that Edwards had a $1 million worth of cars parked in his driveway.
  7. Edwards also bought a $30,000 plasma screen television, a $78,000 gold and diamond watch, and a $159,000 ring. 
  8. Edwards began collecting antiquities, swords, and armor in addition to vehicles, all of which were low-cost copies.

He spent $3 million in his first three months as a millionaire. According to the New York Times, he spent $12 million a year after winning. Edwards had spent all of his money by 2006, just five years after winning the lottery, and had joined the ranks of lottery winners who had gone bankrupt.

What caused David Lee Edwards’ death?

Lottery ticket

Edwards’ terrible habit of spending a lot of money on high-end products wasn’t his only one. His wife Shawna and he both developed drug addictions. Shawna was in and out of treatment for an OxyContin addiction, and they were arrested several times for possession of crack cocaine, heroin, and prescription medications. Edwards would frequently give his buddies with narcotics, according to James Gibbs, and several of them died as a result of overdosing. Edwards would cover the cost of friends’ funerals when they died.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, David and his wife both acquired hepatitis as a result of their drug usage, and they were living in a run-down storage unit contaminated with human feces by the time they ran out of money. Shawna eventually divorced David and married again. Edwards, on the other hand, does not appear to have been able to turn his life around, and he died in hospice care in 2013. Edwards’ first ex-wife and her husband eventually drove him back to Ashland from Florida. He died at the age of 58, leaving no money for his daughter to inherit, breaching the pledge he had made so publicly after his win.

David Lee Edwards’ tragic story, like that of so many other lottery winners, serves as a warning lesson for everyone hoping to win the lottery one day. While individual winners become broke for different reasons, one thing is certain: spending irresponsibly is far easier than it appears without good supervision and advice. For lottery winners, what should be a dream come true frequently turns into a nightmare.

The majority of individuals fantasize about winning the Mega Millions or Powerball, but they should be cautious with their wishes. It’s very uncommon for lottery winners to end up with nothing but shattered friendships, ruined marriages, destitution, and other problems. Many lottery winners are broke due to careless spending, donating, partying, and gambling.