Not every day will you come across a man who has escaped from a derailed train, a door-less plane, a buscrash, a car flame ball, and two car accidents then gone a head to win a $ 1million lottery. Not every day will some body win a $ 315 million lottery payout. So what happens next after the winners disappear into the shadows of rockstardom? Do they still have problems and fears? Do they ever contemplate the life of mere mortals or does immortality intoxicate their dreams?
The morning of Christmas 2002 broke with a herald of news that sent Jack Whittaker reeling in a whooping $315 million lottery jackpot. However with deep regret Mr whittaker would recount to ABC News. “Since I won the lottery, I think there is no control for greed,” he said. “I think if you have something, there’s always someone else that wants it. I wish I’d torn that ticket up.”
His anonymous life was catapulted into a dizzying roller coaster celebrity whirlpool. A journey that saw Mr Whittaker blitzed with rock star like publicity. An exposure that came with its shadowy ills and drawbacks. First lawsuits, then indulgences, thefts, suspicions and fears of the unknown. He lost his friends and the loneliness began to be filled by more addictions, suspicions and mysterious happenings. In 2004, his darling grand daughter died of “unknown” causes. She was found dead, wrapped in a plastic sheet, dumped behind a junked van.
Jack believed that the lottery win had become a curse upon his family. “My grand daughter is dead because of the money,” he said.
Half the share of one of Britain’s biggest ever national lottery payouts went to Mark Gardiner. Mark too was catapulted into the public eye when he struck it lucky in June 1995 with business partner Paul Maddison and won a joint £ 22 million. Paul immediately fled the limelight to live in a remote Scottish castle hideaway. But Mark, who was about to divorce third wife Kim, decided to paint the town red-and blew more than HALF his massive win.
Mark GAVE AWAY about £750,000 and bought FIVE £100,000 houses for so-called pals. But none keeps in touch after a series of ugly fallouts and petty squabbles over money. He also SPLASHED £500,000 on homes in Barbados and more than £200,000 on a huge sea cruiser called Lotty. Then he poured £500,000 into trying to save local football clubs and £½ million on SEVEN Aston Martins.
He also had to pay around £2 million to ex-wives and dependants plus staggering legal fees. But the biggest cost to Mark was in emotional upheaval. And the realisation that most people only wanted one thing from him. . .
Mark Gardiner admitted: “The money hasn’t made me happy a lot of the time. People have just wanted a piece of it-friends, family, staff.”
“The trouble isn’t the money,” said Mark to The News of The World, “ it’s what the money brings along with it. It enabled me to get rid of a box of problems-but it just gets replaced by a posher box of even bigger problems.”
Family upsets over his cash meant he was BARRED from his adoptive dad’s funeral and DISOWNED by his adoptive mother who went to her grave not on speaking terms.
However not all lottery rollovers and pay outs end on sad notes. Meet Frane Selak, a Croatian music teacher born in 1927, whose life seemed to always tiptoe the valley of the shadow of death. In 1962 a train he was travelling on plunged into an icy river killing 17 passengers. He escaped with only a broken arm and few grazes. The next year while travelling on a plane from Zagreb to Rijeka, the door blew away from the cock pit forcing him out of the plane. Nineteen other passengers died. Mr Salek survived …with a few scrapes after landing on a haystack! Three years later a bus he was riding in crashed and plunged into a river-four got killed while he escaped unharmed. Like the proverbial cat of nine lives his adventures and escapades from fatal accidents continued to include surviving a faulty fuel fire ball in his car, was hit by a bus and later drove off a cliff while trying to a void an oncoming car.
When in 2003 Frane locally known as “the world’s unluckiest man” was declared the winner of the Croatian lottery worth $1 million dollars, it came as a total ironical surprise. An offer soon came knocking on the door-would he do a Doritos commercial in Australia? Mr Selak coyly turned it down saying he “didn’t want to test his luck”.
Frane didn’t want to test his luck-against whom may I ask? In this temporal life not every one will become a millionaire like Jack Whittaker or Mark Gardiner or eccentric Frane Selak. However one common lace that binds every human being is that it is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgement. No one can cheat death by a day, an hour, a minute or a second. No ammount of money can bribe the grim reaper. What can a man give in exchange for his soul? The Bible says we will all one day stand before a just and righteous judge. God.
Are you ready? Or would you in the temporary comfort that the grace of God lends you take today for granted? Tomorrow is promised to no man -rich or poor.
Editor’s Note: “If we do not preach about sin and God’s judgment on it, we cannot present Christ as Saviour from sin and the wrath of God. And if we are silent about these things, and preach a Christ who saves only from self and the sorrows of this world, we are not preaching the Christ of the Bible . . . Such preaching may soothe some, but it will help nobody; for a Christ who is not seen and sought as a Saviour from sin will not be found to save from self or from anything else”