Jack Whittaker: 2002’s Biggest Powerball Winner

Back in 2002, Jack Whittaker became a huge Powerball jackpot winner. At the time of Jack’s winning it was the largest jackpot ever won by a single player. However, winning a large sum of money isn’t always positive for some people. Some say that winning the lottery changed Jack Whittaker’s life for the worst.


Jack Whittaker

Image by The Washington Post

There are other lottery winners that I’ve written about such as Gloria Mackenzie that also didn’t have a good story to tell after winning the jackpot. But I found that Jack’s story was an interesting one. Read on to find out how much Jack Whittaker won and what happened to him and his fortune.

Jack Whittaker – Life Before the Win

Jack Whittaker (full name Andrew Jackson Whittaker) was born in October 1947. At the time of winning the jackpot, Whittaker worked in the construction industry. Jack was already quite wealthy at the time because his construction business was worth $17 million. He also had a wife named Jewell and a daughter named Ginger Whittaker Bragg.

Jack always wore a cowboy hat and western-styled clothing. He was a regular lottery player but would only play if the jackpot reached $100 million. Jack stayed in Scott Depot with his family and stated that he worked hard his whole life to make a living.


Jack Whittaker

Image by The New York Times

How Much Money Did Jack Whittaker Win?

In 2002 Jack Whittaker became the sole winner of the US Powerball jackpot at $314 million. He decided to take the lump sum option so he took home $113 million after taxes. Jack was 55 years old at the time and became an instant celebrity. After winning the lottery, people said that Jack had changed for the worse. Jack also stated that he wished he had torn up his ticket after winning the jackpot.

Jack Whittaker Winning Numbers & Strategy

Jack Whittaker was a regular lottery player but he wouldn’t purchase a ticket unless the jackpot was over $100 million. He believed that playing for a lottery amount that was lower than $100 million was a waste of time. You could say that it’s a good lottery strategy to have.

Days before Christmas Jack Whittaker bought his lottery ticket at C&L Super Serve in Hurricane. Brenda, the store clerk, stated that he would come in and buy one lottery ticket when the jackpot got big. He chose a quick pick option so he didn’t have a lotto strategy when choosing his numbers.

The Reaction of Winning the Jackpot

It was 11 o’clock Christmas night and Jack Whittaker was sleeping next to his wife of 40 years. She was watching the news to check what the winning numbers were for the Powerball. To her surprise four out of the five numbers matched on Jack’s ticket. She woke her husband up to tell him the good news.

Jack had no idea what prize money he’d get for four matching numbers but he figured it would be $100,000. He went back to bed and woke up the next morning to get ready for the day. He put the television on and the broadcast station mentioned that the winning ticket was from C&L Super Serve. But the numbers that were on the screen before, were incorrect. Jack realized that he had all five numbers matched.

He then went back to the store where he bought his lottery ticket and gave Brenda a $100 bill. At the time Jack’s jackpot win was seen as the best Christmas gift ever.


Jack Whittaker

Image by The Washington Post 

What Did Jack Whittaker Do with the Money?

After winning, Jack Whittaker claimed that he would donate 10 percent tithe to his church. He also wanted to build new churches in the area. What’s more, Jack stated that he wanted to share his winnings with Brenda and his family.

But Jack quickly changed after winning the lottery. According to news reports, Jack spent most of his winnings on Booze and in strip clubs. He also carried a suitcase stuffed with $245,000 which was stolen out of his car outside of the strip bar he was at.

Another news report stated that a week after winning Jack went to a strip club and put $50,000 on the table. The same news report stated that Whittaker used to give his granddaughter $2000 a week and it was later discovered that the money attracted unsavory people into the girl’s life. Unfortunately, Whittaker’s granddaughter was found lifeless in a van with an unknown cause of death.


Jack Whittaker

Image by ABC News 

Where is Jack Whittaker Now?

Jack Whittaker passed away at the age of 72 on June 27, 2020. Whittaker died of natural causes which were confirmed by the Ronald Meadows Funeral Parlor in Hinton. During his life, Jack experienced many tragedies. He first went through a brutal divorce with his wife of 40 years. His Granddaughter’s friend tragically died of a drug overdose in his house. His daughter also died at the age of 42 from cancer.

Furthermore, Jack’s car was repeatedly broken into because he always kept large sums of money with him. His house burnt down and he experienced many lawsuits.

Jack Whittaker Social Media Accounts

Jack Whittaker won the jackpot before social media was created. But even 20 years later Jack didn’t have any social media accounts. Although at the time of his win, he appeared on many TV morning shows with his family.

What Jack Whittaker Could Have Done Better?

It can be easy for jackpot winners to lose their way. Since they have so much money they may lose all sense of responsibility. Lottery winners are also encouraged to keep as much of their private life confidential. Unfortunately, Jack Whittaker boasted to people about how much money he had on him which caused him to get robbed a few times.

He also spent his money frivolously on booze and at strip clubs. Additionally, Jack made himself public by appearing on talk shows. Jack should have chosen the annuity option because then he may not have thrown his money away as he did. He also should never have told people that he had thousands of dollars in his car.

Jack should have organized a team of lawyers and financial advisors to help him manage his finances. He also should have gone for counseling because he had an addictive personality that landed him in hot water.


What was Jack Whittaker’s method?

Jack Whittaker would play the lottery regularly but he would only play if the jackpot was over $100,000. He didn’t have a method of playing. He would simply choose a quick pick and leave it up to luck to win.

Was Jack Whittaker already rich when he won the jackpot?

Yes, Jack Whittaker was already well off when he won the jackpot. His company was worth $17 million at the time of winning the jackpot.

What happened to Jack Whittaker’s wife?

Jewell Whittaker is still alive but is also going through legal battles with her current husband’s brother.

Final Thoughts

As you can see the lottery doesn’t always bring happiness to people. Unfortunately, Jack Whittaker decided to spend his money on alcohol and in strip clubs instead of investing it and living a peaceful life with his family. Jack Whittaker is the perfect example of what not to do when you win a massive jackpot.

Most of Jack’s tragic experiences could have been avoided if he managed his finances better and didn’t spend his fortune on women and wine. Unfortunately, Jack’s story is a tragic one and it doesn’t seem like his ex-wife is having much luck either. After their divorce, Jewell got $10 million but is now experiencing a lawsuit with her husband and his brother.

When winning the jackpot, always organize a team of financial advisors to assist you. You also want to stay out of the spotlight and don’t tell strangers that you’re a jackpot winner. People are quick to steal from those who they know have a lot of money which is what happened to Jack.

What did you think of Jack’s story? Leave us a comment below.