Lottery winner died of cyanide poisoning


Michael CarrollAndrew Parsons/PA Archive/Press Association Images

When Urooj Khan, a 46 year old from Chicago won around £264,000 on the Illinois lottery in the US, they said he was lucky. When he passed away before getting the chance to collect his winnings, they said maybe he wasn't all that lucky at all. Now, after a post-mortem investigation, they have launched a murder inquiry.

So what happened to Khan, and is this the worst thing that can happen to a lottery winner?

After Khan died suddenly, his death was attributed to natural causes: the coroner doesn't usually examine the body if the deceased is older than 45. However, the BBC has reported that a relative subsequently passed information to the police that persuaded them to reopen the coroner's case. At that point they discovered he had died from cyanide poisoning.

The winner's cheque had been issued on 19 July, he died on 20 July, but the cheque wasn't cashed until 15 August. The police have launched a murder investigation.

Clearly this is a terrible fate to befall anyone, but coming so soon after the win, it feels particularly cruel. However, Khan is far from the only lottery winner to suffer a cruel fate. We have compiled five of the worst.

1. Michael Carroll (pictured) is Britain's most notorious lottery winner. He collected £9.7 million in 2002 and spent it at a frenetic pace on a host of vices. He split with his wife, who left with his daughter, and by 2010 had spent the lot and returned to living on benefits.

2. Callie Rogers from Cumbria won £1.9 million at the age of 16 in 2003, and had a turbulent time of things. She bought a home, which was trashed. She had two children, but after suffering a drug addiction she lost custody of them. Then when she was down to her last £30,000 she fell for a local boy, and at the end of last year gave birth to a baby boy.

3. Denise Rossi won $1.3 million in the California Lottery in 1996. However, things started to go wrong for her when she decided not to tell her husband about the win, and she filed for divorce days later. Unfortunately for her, he subsequently found out about the win and took her to court. The judge ruled that her actions amounted to fraud and awarded every penny to her ex-husband.

4. Jeffrey Dampier won $20 million on the Illinois Lottery in 1996. However, things went wrong for him in 2005 after an affair with his sister-in-law 17 years his junior. He showered her with gifts and put her up in an apartment, but she and her boyfriend hatched a plot to rob Jeffrey. They tied him up and shot him dead. She was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Prosecutor Jalal Harb said at the time: "It's a sad situation. We have no winners in our business."

5. Billie Bob Harrell, Junior shows just how unhappy money can make you. He won $31 million on the Texas Lotto in 1997. At the age of 47 he was able to give up work and donate a fortune to his local church. He also bought cars and houses for friends and family. However, he struggled to deal with people asking him for money, he split with his wife less than a year after the win, and he was found less than two years later having committed suicide at home.

North East is luckiest in Lotto

North East is luckiest in Lotto