January 18, 2011, - 10:48 am

VIDEO: Lottery Winners Ahead of Their Time

By Debbie Schlussel

Many of us fantasize about winning one of the multi-million dollar mega-lotteries and dream about what we’d spend the money on.  But, as I’ve noted repeatedly on this site, the U.S. is littered with people whose giant lottery wins–in Powerball, Mega Millions, and various others–ruined their lives, some of them with murder charges and others being murdered.  There are very few who know how to adjust and teach their kids that the world isn’t a windfall.

Meet America’s Newest Instant Multi-Millionaires, Holly & Josh Lahti

Well, now, we meet the latest giant lottery winners . . . who are well ahead of their big win in ruining their lives.  Check out the story of Holly Lahti, the 29-year-old winner of half of the second largest jackpot in U.S. history.  Unlike the retiree couple who won the other half, the mother was arrested for battery against another woman, and her violent, separated husband, Josh Lahti, also has a criminal rap sheet of at least a dozen arrests.  Since they are still married, he’ll get half of the $190 million.  Well, on the bright side, I doubt either will have to pay child support.

Take solace that you are not they. As I noted in the past, the general experience is that of Ralph Stebbins . . . the LATE Ralph Stebbins, a Michigan man who won $208 million in the Mega Millions lottery. Check out the picture in my post about him. He’s dead and the man handing him the giant lottery check, Gary Peters, is now in Congress, so he fared far better. As I noted, just a year-and-a-half after winning the big money, Stebbins died at the young age of 43 of heart failure. And that was while charges were pending against him for attempted murder, after he stabbed his daughter’s boyfriend.

Very few end up like Tina and Chris Crane, who’ve worked far harder than before they won $42 million, in order to raise their kids to appreciate hard work and the value of a dollar . . . and to avoid the gazillion moochers and beggars who come with a lottery win.  They had to quit their jobs and move away from Michigan, essentially living like hermits in rural America and vigilantly protecting their privacy and contact info.  (After I wrote about them, the Cranes e-mailed to thank me, but it’s clear they’ve been forced into a life they didn’t really choose when they bought lottery tickets.)

Part of the reason that so many lottery winners end up in bigger trouble than before is the type of people who play the lottery, which I call, “the poor man’s voluntary tax.” Sorry to sound like a snob (though I very rarely have, indeed, played the lottery), but the people who play the lottery tend to be lower income, less educated people. They don’t do the math, or they’d never play, since the odds of winning are terrible, and you’re basically giving over your money to the government for nothing. It’s gambling with far worse odds than playing blackjack or the slots. So, these are people who never had money and don’t have the values to save and invest most of it for a rainy day later on. Since they never had this kind of cash before and didn’t work hard to earn and value it, they go nuts, and it ruins their lives. So, it’s probably less the lottery win than the people who play it in the first place.

In so many ways, the Holly Lahti (and estranged, criminal hubby) lottery win story is such an apt allegory for contemporary times in America. You can do all the right things and live your life right, but never get your head above water financially. Yet, the losers and skanks who did everything wrong and caused all the problems are the ones who cash in. Yup, that’s America in Kardashian/Ted Williams (the homeless “Golden Voice,” not the baseball player) times.

But, like I said, there’s delayed schadenfreude in all of this, as they’ll probably end up like most big lottery winners: down and out on their luck in the end.


Exit Question: How long do you give these two before they either a) blow the entire $90 million (the post-tax amount they’ll split), or b) end up dead or in prison for murder?

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7 Responses

“Exit Question: How long do you give these two before they either a) blow the entire $90 million (the post-tax amount they’ll split), or b) end up dead or in prison for murder?”

You can buy a lot of drugs for that kind of money.

Back in the early 80’s,my cousin won 50K in a lawsuit,cashed the check,and laid the cash out on her kitchen table and photographed it.

It didn’t end well for her.
If won that kind of cash,I’d just improve my quality of life.

ebayer on January 18, 2011 at 11:08 am


It’s Holly Lahti, not Christine Lahti.

And though I don’t hold much hope for either of them, my money’s on the husband blowing that $$$$ before she does.

Many years ago I knew a kid (late teens) who’d inherited a bagful of cash because his dad was killed in a railroad accident. He agreed to give all of that loot to a nearby bar owner on the condition that he always get served free drinks once he became of legal age. The bar owner agreed. Deal done.

Weeks later the bar burned to the ground…..

Almost forty years later and I’m still shaking my head and thinking: “……idiot…..”

G: Oops. Holly Lahti, Christine Lahti, same difference. Just kidding. I fixed it, though I got it right in the first mention. Sorry. A celebrity Freudian slip, I guess. DS

guitarguy on January 18, 2011 at 12:18 pm


    Surely the money was put into the bar owners bank account and the balance was returned to the kid?

    ebayer on January 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Wow, she looks like Angelina Jolie on a bad day and he looks like a meth addict, whew!!!

CJ on January 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Sad. A tax on the stupid as they pay extra taxes on their cigarettes.

Blayne on January 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I give ’em 12 months. What a pair….oy, g’valt.

Not Ovenready on January 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm

You’d think they would be a bit happier. I guess the expression, “Money changes people” doesn’t apply in this case. They seem to be rich thugs as opposed to their previous “just thugs’ personas. Personally, should I be so lucky, I’d immediately Google “Islands for Sale,” and start shopping.

Kent on January 18, 2011 at 9:26 pm

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