debt

8 big lottery winners whose money and luck ran out

A taxing win
A taxing win | _hijiki_/Moment/Getty Images

A taxing win

Florida residents Alex and Rhoda Toth were downtrodden in 1990. They bought a lottery ticket against her wishes, leaving them with only $24 and change.

But they ended up winning about $13 million, and accepted payments of $666,666 for 20 years.

Their fairy tale did not have a happy ending.

"It caused us to lose a lot of friends, some family members," Rhoda Toth told the St. Petersburg Times in 1997.

A few years later, the couple filed for bankruptcy protection. In 2006, the federal government charged them with tax fraud.

Mike Rhoades, an attorney with Rhoades Levy Law Group in the Chicago area, says a crash course in taxes is a must for lottery winners.

"If it's a large payout, not only can the winner lose half of it to federal and state income taxes -- but at death, he or she could lose another 50 percent (of what's left) to 'death taxes' by failing to create an estate plan," he says.

Alex Toth died at age 60 before having to stand trial, while his widow served two years in prison.

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