The Evil of Gambling And All That Surrounds It

March 11, 2013

SCRIPTURE: But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. [I Timothy 6:9, NLT]

QUOTE: Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. —Thomas Alva Edison

COMMENTARY: Nothing can stop a man who has the right attitude–nothing can help him if he has a bad one, especially money. On December 25, 2002, West Virginia building contractor Andrew Jackson “Jack”  Whittaker Jr. won $315 million in the Powerball multi-state lottery, at that  time the largest jackpot in history won by a single person. Of course the publicity from the lottery windfall was misleading. West Virginia keeps over 41%, then there are federal taxes. When all the dust settled, Jack got 93 million. Before winning the lottery, Jack was the president of a successful contracting firm called Diversified Enterprises  Construction. The 55-year-old Whittaker was living a successfully comfortable American life complete with a net worth of over one million dollars, a well-rounded family, great job and a healthy  granddaughter. After winning the prize, he famously pledged 10% of his winnings to various Christian charities and created the Jack Whittaker Foundation with another $14 million.

Jack, Bragg and Wife is 2002 just after winning lottery

Jack, Bragg and Wife is 2002 just after winning lottery

Whittaker did some good, but his bad deeds make his story. He was arrested twice, once for drunk driving and once for threatening a bar manager. A woman sued him after he groped her at a dog racetrack. Thieves  took $545,000 in cash from Whittaker’s car while he was visiting a strip club.  About a year later, thieves again stole $200,000 from his car. Caesars Atlantic City sued him for bouncing $1.5 million in checks. It gets worse, much worse… In 2003, Whittaker’s granddaughter’s boyfriend was found dead of an overdose inside Whittaker’s home. His 17-year-old granddaughter Bragg, whom he had been giving a $2,100 weekly allowance, fatally overdosed months later, at a different location. His wife filed for divorce and got it in April of 2008. They have been married 42 years.  The following July, Jack only daughter, Ginger was found dead in her home. Cause of death has never been determined. Ginger was 42 years old at the time of her death. Jack granted a rare interview to David Samuel’s that was published in Bloomberg Businessweek [December 2012]. When he did the interview, Jack had no family, one secretary and his only friend was his pastor.  Whittaker with no family and no fortune, said “I wish I’d torn  that ticket up.” [Below is a recent picture of Jack]

Jack Whittaker after losing the money

Experts say that Lottery winners suffer tremendous guilt as a result of their good fortune; they also have immediate trouble with family members and friends who feel that they are entitled to a share. Since winning in 2002, Jack has had 460 law suits filed against him. Some of the suits came from casinos where he had gambled and lost.

EXTRA: No commentary needed for the story above: most of it is cut and paste. I think it speaks for itself. Actually the bottom picture is more than a thousand words. Money will not bring happiness–only Jesus can give you peace, joy, hope, happiness and eternal life.

SMALL GROUP PROJECT: Our small group project is big. Matter of fact, OVERWHELMING is the word I used but we are going to give it a shot. You will be hearing about it soon. We have a week to pray before we meet again. Our project will take place March 29-30 from 7:00-9:00 on the West Lawn of the worship center. As Barney Fife would say, “It’s big, really big!” So pray, really pray!

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