POOR JACK'S MONEY - The Neverending Troubles Of WV's Lottery Winner, "Antics" Turning Serious?

(01/26/2004)

By Bob Weaver

Jack Whittaker, West Virginia's famous lottery winner, has lots of troubles.

Now, Jack has been arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

He was on his way to Tri-State Racetrack and Gaming when he pulled off Interstate 64 near Nitro because of the icy weather.

Jack said he had been drinking, but was nowhere near intoxicated. The complaint said he registered a .19 blood alcohol level and failed three field sobriety tests. State Police also found keys in the ignition and the vehicle running.

It was Jack's second arrest this year. He was arraigned earlier this month on charges of trying to hit and threatening to the manager of a St. Albans' bar after reportedly being banned from the establishment.

It's easy come, easy go for poor Jack, who has had a hard time holding on to his winnings.

Last week someone took $100,000 of his cold, hard cash.

When Jack won the lottery and was appearing on national TV, Gov. Bob Wise and other West Virginians said they were proud of Jack and the image he brings to the state.

Jack elected to take the Powerball cash option of $155,468,282.35 .

People like to steal cash Jack leaves in his vehicles, and some strip club owners don't like his behavior, banning him from their establishments.

This past weekend someone broke a window in the driver's side window of his vehicle while it was parked outside his Putnam County residence, swiping another $100,000.

Whittaker, who won the largest Powerball jackpot in history on Christmas 2002, had more than $500,000 in a briefcase stolen from his vehicle outside the Pink Pony strip club last August.

That money was discovered hidden behind a dumpster at the strip club. The club's managers were arrested and charged with the robbery.

Jack has given $1.5 million to the Church of God in Hinton, which gave no argument when he sprinkled cash on them. The church, despite their critical anti-gambling stance, graciously accepted the money. Pastor Welch said "God uses money from everywhere and we consider it a blessing to be able to grow our Church..."

While Jack is not asking for help, a scriptural suggestion could be applied to loose cash, something about "Lead us not into temptation."

Or maybe he should consider the English axiom "A fool and his money are easily parted" and turn his cash over to a financial adviser.

But then when poor Jack is broke, he can write his riches to rags story for some extra cash, which he undoubtedly will place on the front seat of his car.

The serious twist, while Jack's antics have been good fodder for West Virginia columnists, his situation is taking a turn for the worse.

Hopefully, he will get the help he needs to survive being America's biggest lottery winner.


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