How this Kentucky Lottery winner died alone and penniless

David Lee Edwards, from Ashland, Ky., won $27 million in 2001. He lost it all by 2006.

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Edward Blunt describes what happened when his mother won one million dollars in the recent record Powerball drawing.
Pat McDonogh, CJ

Lottery winner David Edwards has lavished spending on himself and his girlfriend, Shawna Maddux, after his good fortune. He has bought a 4,400-square-foot home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and several luxury cars.(Photo: AP)

Is there a lottery curse? Before you buy that Powerball ticket, remember the tragic story of one Kentuckian who won the jackpot.

David Lee Edwards, from Ashland, Kentucky, won $27 million in 2001. He lost it all by 2006. 

The Courier-Journal spoke to Edwards right after his win, saying it was “a poor man’s dream.”

“I’ve made mistakes in my past, and that’s been a long time ago. I’ve paid for those mistakes, and I went on with my life, and I straightened my life out, and I’ve been productive since then,” Edwards said.

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“I am what I am today, and I thank God for that. I can’t go back and change my past, but I can do something positive with my future.”

But things didn’t go well. After he won the jackpot, Edwards and his wife spent the earnings on a mansion, dozens of expensive cars and a jet. They spent until the money ran out and left them both living in a storage unit after five years, according to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times. 

After receiving a ceremonial check at Louisville Slugger Museum, Powerball winner David Edwards, of Westwood, Ky., answered reporters’ questions yesterday with fiancee Shawna Maddux at his side. They may move to Las Vegas or Florida. (Photo: Courier-Journal archives)

Edwards bought a $1.6 million house in a private tennis and golf community in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and spent another $600,000 on another home. He also bought a $1.9 million LearJet, three losing racehorses and two businesses worth $4.5 million.

He collected cars including a $200,000 Lamborghini Diablo and at one point, the Daily Mail reports, he had $1 million in vehicles parked in front of his house.

In his first three months as a millionaire, he spent $3 million and after one year, he had spent $12 million, reported the New Times.

He had lost every bit by 2006.

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Edwards and his wife contracted hepatitis from their needle drug use and both were arrested multiple times for possession of crack cocaine, pills and heroin, according to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times. 

Edwards died “alone and penniless” in hospice care at the age of 58 in 2013, just 12 years after the lottery changed his life, reported the Daily Mail.

His family and friends say this story is a prime example of the influence of money. By the time he died, he lost every penny of his fortune and owed thousands of dollars to friends.


Taylor Riley is a producer at the Courier-Journal. You can reach her at or on Twitter @taylorrileycj.

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