December 27, 2006, - 2:30 pm

Life is Short, Even When You Win the Lottery

By Debbie Schlussel
Stories of those winning millions in the lottery and losing everything are evergreen stories. Almost consistently, poor people winning the lottery spend themselves away, drink themselves away, or commit crimes. And some of them die due to their behavior (usually some sort of substance abuse).
This story is more tragic. Ralph Stebbins won the $208 million Mega Millions lottery jackpot with his wife, Mary in April 2005. They took the lump sum payment of $124.7 million. Stebbins was a well-digger and tow-truck operator in Port Huron, Michigan who dreamed of buying a farm and a cow.
He bought the farm. And Saturday, just 1.5 years after winning millions, he “bought the farm” again–figuratively. He died of heart failure at age 43, according to the Detroit Free Press. He seemed healthy and didn’t have a history of heart problems, the paper claims.


Mary & the Late Ralph Stebbins Accept Mega Millions

Not unlike all the other failed lottery winners you read about, Stebbins, too, had problems with police after winning the lottery. He was arrested on domestic charges earlier this month, after a confrontation with his 19-year-old daughter’s boyfriend, according to the Free Press. But the Port Huron Times-Herald reports that it was far more serious:

In October, Stebbins was charged in Leelanau County with attempted murder, possession of a dangerous weapon and being a habitual offender for stabbing his daughter’s boyfriend, Timothy Doan, 21, with a pocket knife at an auction.
The case still was pending when Stebbins died.

(Sounds like Free Press reporter Gina Damron didn’t do her homework–she got the month and the details of the crime entirely wrong, not to mention, a differing story of his health condition; but that Times Herald reporter Shannon Murphy does know how to report.)
The Ralph Stebbins story is yet more proof that winning the lottery isn’t everything. (It may even be a curse for most.) And that life is short. And unpredictable.

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13 Responses

What an idiot. How hard is it to not commit a crime or stay healthy? I guess in my case, I’m not healthy hee he but I stay out of trouble, beause, I don’t want to give one dime to any lawsuit or child support. I keep low and I travel anywhere I wish. I’ll take the $124.7 million, no, I’ll give it away to say the Museum of Tolerance out hee in Los Angeles, they support my people and I would go on with my business.

KOAJaps on December 27, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    Ralph Stebbins, who died not even a year after he won the lottery was not an “idiot” he was charged with that crime, but he wasnt guilty. He would never do such a thing. He was my uncle, and a great person. You should probably keep your mouth closed and stop believing what you see on the internet.

    Teonna on May 2, 2011 at 10:31 am

      another poor black victim…

      disgusting on March 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Who’s to say his daughter’s boyfriend didn’t deserve it. Perfectly healthy people drop dead all the time. If he had a prior substance abuse problem, hitting rock bottom after 124 million dollars must have been some kind of ride. I knew an alcoholic that blew through his 800K inheritance and was working for eight bucks an hour when he won the lottery. Last time he called was to seek advice in how to get back most the money he placed with an individual for investment, too painful to even think about this kind of stupidity.

code7 on December 27, 2006 at 6:47 pm

I know two people who have won much smaller lotteries but they both almost regretted it. They were both literally buried in salesmen from yacht dealers, MCB hustlers, horrible charity hustles, and investment jokers. Neither could really think because everywhere they went people knew them and many tried to borrow money. Both lost friends because they refused to “lend” them money. Bottom line is that I think you have to prepare yourself fully BEFORE stepping up to collect the money: Fictitous Name, unlisted number, change banks, and most of all consult with an attorney. Only when your ducks are in a row should you step up and claim your winnings. Getting something for nothing causes resentment in all your less than affluent “friends,” who will feel they deserve it more than you do.

Duke on December 27, 2006 at 7:17 pm

I think most people think all that loot would end their problems. These stories show it rarely works out that way. What about Willy Wonka and Charlie Bucket? Did he kick it too after all that fudge?

BB on December 27, 2006 at 8:45 pm

At work, there was a young secretary that won 13 million dollars in a US lottery. She was a twenty-something newlywed. It was exciting to know a lottery winner. She was pregnant, so her solicitor advised she work until the delivery. Good advice considering the potential cost of a baby needing life long medical care. After a few weeks the resentment and jealously started creeping in – “Why did that bitch win, I should’ve won”. It was a disappointing revelation about human nature. I would still like to try the test myself though!

Irish Poet on December 27, 2006 at 9:17 pm

Ya. I’d be willing to give it a shot. With that kind of money, you can buy your way out of most anything. Just ask the Kennedys.

Rocketman on December 28, 2006 at 8:52 am

It really honestly disgustd me to hear how people and the media can dog someone they don’t know.None of you knew Ralph.I AM a family of his and know him to be a caring,generous and family devoted man.They handle themselve very well since the money it has never changed them.Not one person can say they NEVER did wrong.Ralph was set up by this punk and I hope this punk feels the guilt of putting Ralph through hell.NONE of you know the story behind this situation.God does.Unfortunatly Ralph passed before the truth came out.The stress is what killed him not DRUGS!!!This loser boyfriend was out for money.This boyfriend put this family through hell.I bet Ralph and his family is closer nit and more loving than you all can say about yours.So next time you pass judgement before knowing facts you will think is this true what is the whole story.RALPH IS INNOCENT!!!!!!!!!!Rest In Peace Ralph We love you Thank you for being the man you were.He was an inspiration to ALL his family and friends.AND I am NOT ashamed to say it.If this doesn’t print at least whomever is reading this knows.Oh and Jackass YOUR THE IDIOT

Media Sux on December 29, 2006 at 12:06 pm

    Whoever “Media Sux” is, is right. None of you people knew ralph like we did. Were actually family and we know the truth. He would never do something so dumb to hurt himself.

    Teonna on May 2, 2011 at 10:34 am

What the press doesn’t want anyone to understand is that basically, it’s the LOW IQ that does them in, not the LOTTERY.
That’s just a cover story to sell more news CRAP.
Many lottery winners in the past and they have done fine. I suppose these are the “smart” ones with balanced minds. That’s all it takes. Lucky you and the lottery!

ReallyReallyStupid on December 30, 2006 at 1:48 am

I think wining the lottery is a good thing for people who never had money. I also believe when someone wins a major jackpot they should realize that there will be some good or bad problems. The more people win the more problems they are going to have to deal with. When I win I know for a fact that there will be no problems because my heart is with GOD. I know the first thing I would do is give back to charity, then give my mother half of the winnings, then I would help myself and friends. What I wont do is tell the world that I won the lottery. If I do that I set myself up for failure and possibly a death wish with someone who I don’t know. It’s quite ok to play the lottery and it is also quite ok to dream big. Thus said do not worship the love of money. Money comes, money goes. Do not be greedy, help others and thank GOD for that happiest moments in your life.

Shelly on December 16, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Ralph made a mistake,when he pittied his grown daughter,she was my future wife and she had a few freinds i didnt like ,so we argued mistake for ever thinking i was her everything.she was mine and i loved her family.i should have been more patient,but for the record i wasnt money hungry,and i pray,i never will be. R.i.p. a daring man,ralph stebbins.

timothy doan on May 16, 2014 at 2:58 pm

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