This Man’s Lottery Win Ended Up Costing Him His Life

There’s something called the “lottery curse,” which sounds completely counterintuitive, right? You would think that winning millions would make your life a heck of a lot better, but it’s not necessarily true. In fact, for more than just a few lotto winners, winning millions ruined – and sometimes ended – their lives.

Jeffrey Dampier and Victoria Jackson / Jeffrey Dampier / Victoria Jackson
Source: Facebook

According to The New York Daily News, 70 percent of lotto winners end up penniless within seven years. And if you’re a man named Jeffrey Dampier Jr., winning the lottery means starting a business, enjoying the luxuries of life, and then getting killed by your sister-in-law and her boyfriend. Sounds unbelievable? Well, it actually happened.

This is his story.

Chicago Man Wins $20 Million

Jeffrey Dampier Jr. was a regular guy who grew up on Chicago’s West Side. He worked as a security guard day in, day out until he (and his then-girlfriend) won a whopping $20 million one day after buying an Illinois state lottery ticket back in 1996, at the age of 28.

Jeffrey is receiving his winning lottery check with his first wife.
Source: Facebook

Winning that kind of money is obviously a pretty big deal, and so it’s only expected that Dampier’s life was about to change pretty abruptly. The thing is, nobody could have expected what eventually happened. Dampier was the third child and eldest son of a baker and grew up in a close-knit family. He had studied auto mechanics and served in the army.

The One They All Relied On

Dampier and his girlfriend of 12 years, Debra, got married soon after the win. They had three children and two grandchildren (his wife had two kids from a previous relationship). Of all the Dampier kids, Jeffrey Jr. was the brother everyone depended on, from advice about work to fixing cars to babysitting.

A photo of Jeffrey Dampier.
Source: Reddit

He took care of the lawn at the FishHawk Ranch townhouse that he bought for his parents, less than a mile from the house Dampier and his then-wife bought in 2001. A few years later, though, the couple divorced, and since they were both experiencing money problems, he decided to split the money evenly between them.

He Was Generous With His Money

After the divorce, Dampier started dating, and he eventually married a woman named Crystal Jackson. Within two years, the couple moved to Tampa Bay, where they started their own business: a gourmet popcorn store. Things were looking up for Dampier and his family.

Dampier is standing beside the popcorn shop.
Source: Twitter

Most of his siblings, ranging in age from 27 to 42, followed their brother to Florida. He wanted them nearby, as his sister later explained. Once a month, they all got together at a restaurant. Dampier wasn’t just generous with his first wife; he was overall very free with his spending. He would spend lavishly on things like cruises and gifts.

The Family Secret

On Christmas one year, Dampier treated 38 members of his family to a week-long Caribbean cruise. He bought his parents and nine siblings houses and cars. When it came to spending, he was especially generous with Jackson’s side of the family.

Woman secretly holds the other man's hand.
Photo by Stefka Pavlova/Getty Images

When it came to a point where his wife’s sisters, Victoria and Terri, fell on hard times, he offered to take care of their finances. Whatever financial problems these women were facing, Dampier opened his wallet. But here’s the thing: Dampier wasn’t liberal with his money for no reason. He gave his sister-in-law Victoria all that money because he was having an affair with her.

The Couple Had a Plan

Their affair had gone under the radar for quite a while. Come 2005, however, everything changed. While they were involved in their secret relationship, Victoria developed another romantic relationship with a man named Nathaniel Jackson (who had no relation to the family).

A photo of Victoria and Nathaniel Jackson.
Source: Reddit

Now, here’s another thing: Nathaniel knew all about Dampier’s lottery money. Just as Dampier’s intentions to help out Victoria weren’t innocent, neither were Nathaniel’s motives for dating Victoria. He had a plan of his own about how to get his hands on Dampier’s money, and he decided to get Victoria in on it.

She Told Him She Had Car Troubles

According to her, she went to Nathaniel’s apartment on July 26, 2005. He then made her call Dampier and tell him to come to Nathaniel’s apartment. She lured him over by claiming that she was having car troubles.

A woman stands beside her broken-down car, calling for help.
Photo by ChristopherBernard/Getty Images

Dampier was supposed to be on his way to meet his wife and other family members at the Olive Garden in Brandon, which he was intending to do after “fixing” Victoria’s car. But, of course, he never made it. As soon as Dampier showed up, Nathaniel pulled out a shotgun and forced him into a van.

Tied Up and Beaten in a Van

Once he was in the van, the couple tied Dampier’s hands behind his back with shoestrings. Victoria drove the van while Nathaniel repeatedly beat the man with his gun, only allowing reprieve in exchange for his money. But the millionaire wasn’t cooperating, so Nathaniel switched roles with Victoria.

A man's hands are tied together.
Photo by Darren Hopes/Getty Images

Victoria tried her hand by reasoning with Dampier, her lover on the side. For a while, she was trying to play the “good cop.” She told him that she didn’t want to make him suffer anymore – that all they wanted was the money.

Abandoned on the Side of the Road

Nathaniel grew impatient and handed Victoria a gun. According to police reports, Nathaniel demanded that Victoria shoot Dampier. “Shoot him, or I shoot you,” he exclaimed. That’s when she pulled the trigger, resulting in a single shot to the back of his head, killing him instantly.

An abandoned van hidden in the fields.
Photo by kolderal/Getty Images

The now killer couple drove the van to a deserted road and left it with Dampier’s body inside to rot. The body was discovered not too long afterward. Nearby residents heard the van running and called the police. By the time the authorities came, Dampier had been dead for a number of hours.

The Armed and Dangerous Couple Fled on Foot

Once Jeffrey’s body was discovered, an investigation was launched, and the two fugitives were arrested a few days later. According to the police, the van the couple used was Dampier’s own – a silver 2005 GMC Savana – and they left it on Magnolia Avenue, a dead-end street in Seffner, before fleeing on foot.

Police spokeswoman holds a press conference.
Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

“They should be considered armed and dangerous,” Debbie Carter, the spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, reported. “We did not recover a weapon.” They named Jacksonville as a possible destination. The detectives on the case went straight to Dampier’s family.

Arrested a Few Days Later

The detectives issued felony arrest warrants for Victoria, then 23 years old, and Nathaniel, then 24. Investigators were able to recover fingerprints and forensic evidence from Dampier’s van. They also discovered that he was shot on the floorboard between the driver and passenger seats.

A police officer has arrested a man and placed him in handcuffs.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The authorities eventually showed the bloody van to news reporters to see all the dark stains that were visible on the fabric console between the seats. Detectives caught up with Victoria and Nathaniel a few days after the murder, where they reportedly surrendered without a fight.

You’re Under Arrest

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office spokesman J.D. Callaway stated that between 9:30 and 10 p.m., the police received information that the two fugitives were on their way to a relative’s house, which belonged to 53-year-old Alamin Rasheed, Nathaniel’s father.

Law enforcement officials surround a house.
Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

So, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrived at the scene, and it turned out to be an uneventful situation. Officers surrounded the house and waited. When Victoria and Nathaniel finally came out of the house, they walked to their car, which is when the police zeroed in on them. Nathaniel initially gave officers a false name.

They Took Thousands With Them

He illegally reported a false name, but the cops took his wallet and found his Illinois ID card and $1,500 in cash. Detectives believe the cash came directly from Dampier. When they asked him why he lied about his name, he told them he was wanted on a traffic violation and didn’t want to get arrested.

Nathaniel Jackson’s mug shot / Victoria Jackson’s mug shot.
Source: Reddit

Victoria reportedly also gave false names and dates of birth, Jefferson said. The couple was booked into the Jacksonville jail by the early hours of the following morning. They were scheduled to appear in Duval County court and face charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault, armed carjacking and armed kidnapping.

Robbery, Plain and Simple

“The motive was robbery, plain and simple,” Callaway stated. It was also reported that the couple fled on foot with “thousands of dollars on them”; “where the rest of that money is, we don’t know,” Callaway said at the time.

A wallet stuffed with 100-dollar bills.
Photo by Image Source/Getty Images

He reported that the couple drove around with Dampier for a while and at some point “obtained a lot of money.” We know they took thousands, but it was “less than $10,000.” Detectives started interviewing the other family members, including Nathaniel’s father. After interviewing Rasheed, they released him. A woman living at the father’s house later let authorities search the home.

A Family in Mourning

The only things the officers took from the house were a pair of sneakers and a T-shirt. Dampier’s relatives didn’t publicly comment on the Jacksons’ arrests as they were focused on grieving the loss of their beloved relative. They gathered at the funeral home for a visitation service before congregating at his funeral.

A photo of Jeffrey Dampier.
Source: Youtube

Dampier’s 14-year-old daughter (from his marriage to Debra) was around for the summer. According to her mother, the teenager was planning on moving into Dampier’s FishHawk Ranch home before starting high school the next month. “He was her best friend,” she said. “And he was a wonderful father.”

Victoria Was Framed as the Victim

The details of Dampier’s last moments alive were later revealed at the trial. At the trial, the defense framed it as though Victoria was a victim. In her defense, Victoria claimed that she was forced by Nathaniel to murder Dampier.

Victoria sits before the judge in court.
Source: Youtube

According to the prosecution, however, she knew what was going to happen when she made that phone call to lure Dampier to the apartment. Other things happened to complicate the issue of Victoria’s guilt. Her sister Tiffany claimed that Dampier was having an affair with Victoria when she was only 15 years old.

They Claimed “Battered Spouse Syndrome”

The story Tiffany was trying to concoct was one that involved her sister’s alleged trauma from their relationship, and possibly the grooming contributed to the incident. Tiffany said, “They knew she was just 15 when he started messing with her. Where’s the justice for her?”

A photo of Jeffrey and Victoria.
Source: Facebook

Victoria’s attorney, Kenneth Littman, argued in court that she suffered from “battered spouse syndrome” and felt that she had no will of her own. Contrary to what the prosecution argued, Littman said she didn’t know that the plan that fateful night was to kill Dampier.

Life in Prison

In Victoria’s defense, she said she felt that Dampier wouldn’t have blamed her. Nevertheless, the jury and the judge weren’t convinced, and Victoria ultimately accepted the consequences of her actions. After the guilty verdict was read in court, she turned to her mother and said, “Jeffrey forgives me.”

A selfie of Victoria and Nathaniel.
Source: Reddit

Both her she and Nathaniel were sentenced to life in prison, where they remain to this day. Dampier’s family was satisfied with the outcome, with his father saying, “I think everything was correct. I think the state did a good job. I’m very happy. I think my family is happy.”

A Cautionary Tale

Dampier was the owner of Kassie’s Gourmet Popcorn in Tampa, located in the Channelside entertainment district. He named the sweets shop after his daughter. His mother and brother are running the place.

Jeffrey Dampier holds up his large winning check.
Source: Twitter

For Jeffrey Dampier Jr., it’s clear that winning the lottery turned out to be a death sentence. For some, his story can be seen as a cautionary tale, although you can never really control what your family does. According to his widow Crystal, he would have been better off without the money. “I think it is a curse,” she asserted.

Speaking of curses…

The Curse of the Lottery

The lottery curse is a real thing. Just ask Marie Holmes, who was a 26-year-old single mother in 2015 when she hit the jackpot. She was doing her best to support her four kids by working two jobs. Working at both McDonalds and Walmart wasn’t easy, but she did what she had to do.

Marie Holmes with her two children.
Source: Reddit

Sadly, one of her kids was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and she was forced to quit both of her jobs to take care of him full-time. In February 2015, she stopped at a gas station and decided to spare a few bucks on a lottery ticket. The North Carolina Powerball jackpot that day was $564 million.

$127 Million Richer

She went back to her trailer home to find out she had the winning lottery ticket! “I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I saw the ticket and checked it,” she stated. For that jackpot, two other people had the winning ticket too, so Holmes won a third of the money, which was $188 million.

Marie Holmes holds up her winning ticket.
Source: Twitter

Holmes had to make a choice: to receive the $188 million spread out over 30 years or to take the $127 million on the spot (after taxes). Side note: Financial experts say you should take the lesser amount and invest it, which will make you more money in the long run.

After All the Deductions…

The money received after winning the lottery is taxed; only income is deducted on a federal and state level. When you take money in installments, North Carolina, for instance, takes 5.8% of the winnings, and the Federal government takes 25%.

Marie Holmes received her large check for all her winnings.
Source: Tumblr

And if the winnings reach the highest tax bracket, the state can take up to 39.6%. She ended up banking $88 million, but still, Holmes was suddenly a multi-millionaire. She dreamed of moving her family out of her trailer and set up college funds for her kids. She even pledged to donate money to her church.

But Money Does Change You

Holmes spoke to NBC News after winning and explained her decisions. “All the struggle that I ever went through, it was all for them. I want them to understand that money doesn’t change you, but it can help you.”

Marie Holmes dose a television interview.
Source: ABC

Holmes was seemingly the type of person who understood the value of a dollar. Given that she did everything for her kids and worked so hard to support them, nobody ever expected her to take it for granted. And while she said money doesn’t change people, it proved to be so powerful that it ultimately did.

The Lavish Spending Began

Soon after her win, the deserving mother went from rags to riches and eventually became the person everyone turned against. Like any mother, Holmes wanted the money to benefit herself and her children’s lives. But she couldn’t help but make some selfish choices.

A view of Marie Holmes’ new home and fancy cars.
Source: Oprah

Her excessive spending began when she spent $15,000 on a diamond Rolex watch for her boyfriend, a man named LaMar McDow. To her, it was like pocket change. But her boyfriend ended up taking way more than just a watch. He had been arrested in 2014, a year before the jackpot, and McDow had about $100 to his name.

Her Ex-Convict Boyfriend Loved It

But now, his girlfriend was filthy rich and could bail him out no matter how much it cost. He started to take it for granted. McDow later denied the allegations that Holmes spent a total of $21 million on his bails. What he said was, “So many people are going on that she has paid $21 million to get me out of jail, but that ain’t true. It’s just 10 percent.”

Marie Holmes sits with LaMar McDow at the table, looking upset.
Source: Twitter

Before his jail time in 2014, McDow was living with Holmes and her family in the trailer. Once he was released, he moved into the new $350,000 home that his girlfriend bought after she won the lottery.

The Requests for Money Began

What happened next is not very surprising – many of her friends and family started asking Holmes for money. After all, she could afford $10,000 for a good friend, right? Or a new house for your aunt, no? It came to the point where Holmes was constantly being harassed for money.

An unimpressed Holmes holds up her winning ticket outside her new home.
Source: Tumblr

More money, more problems, yet again. Once she moved into her new house, she couldn’t help but notice that they were some of the only Black people in the rich, white neighborhood. Sadly, racial prejudice still exists, and the family began getting harassed by their neighbors.

Getting Harassed by Neighbors

McDow told The Daily Mail that one neighbor set up a camera to record everything they were doing. “If I was driving down the road and going at the speed limit, they would wave at me for going too fast. They did not want us there. They were prejudiced.”

The Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church building.
Source: Facebook

But there was a place where Holmes found peace in the storm. She loved going to the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, which was her sanctuary ever since she was a little kid. She was someone who took the teachings of the church and lived them in her daily life.

Enter the Pastor

To show her appreciation for the church, she pledged 10% of her winnings to charity, which came to about $700,000. The church used the money for overdue costs and much-needed repairs. Then came in a pastor named Kevin Mathews.

A photo of pastor Kevin Mathews.
Source: Tumblr

Mathews wasn’t even affiliated with Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, but he found Holmes and began getting involved with the family. He claimed that “God led him to them” (how convenient). Unfortunately, the family believed him and invited the Pastor into their home for ministerial services. Little did they know what his motives were.

Asking for $1.5 Million

He told both McDow and Holmes that he was even going to help McDow make better life decisions. Mathews started getting a little too comfortable and even had the nerve to ask Holmes for 1.5 million to build a retreat.

A man holds an offering plate in church.
Photo by ColorBlind/Getty Images

The Pastor had nothing in writing, so Holmes verbally agreed to give him the money. But she still didn’t hand it over. So, the Pastor started to build his retreat anyway, with his own money. But he was steadfast on taking her money some way or another.

He Tried to Sue Her

Pastor Mathews publicly spoke about how he intended to sue Ms. Holmes for $10 million dollars. But since their alleged agreement was never put in writing, he didn’t have much of a case. He did, however, claim that she put him through “emotional and mental stress” – so much so that he had to “start taking more medicine for anxiety and depression due to this situation.”

A photo of Holmes on the day she won the lottery.
Source: Reddit

As soon as the story hit the headlines, people were outraged. The public was angry that some greedy pastor would be trying to sue a noble church-going woman. They were quick to call him out as a fraud.

Spiraling Out of Control

Pastor Matthews refused to give the names of his lawyers to reporters when he was asked about his case. Holmes being in the media was only detrimental to her and her family. Somehow, it was revealed that she was being cheated on by McDow.

A crying Holmes sits at home.
Source: Pinterest

Reports started circulating about how she was paying off the mistresses instead of dumping her cheating, criminal boyfriend. In a viral Facebook video, a woman confirmed that McDow was indeed cheating on Holmes. Despite the negativity, Holmes stayed strong. As her life was spiraling out of control, she appeared on Lyanla: Fix My Life Talk Show.

Her Mother’s Confession

On the talk show, Holmes’ mother, Fontella, made a shocking confession. It was Fontella who picked the winning lottery numbers; she just let her daughter believe her numbers won. The mother explained: “I kept dreaming about your brother that we lost. His birthday, he was the third child; he would have been 25 that year. Those were the numbers.”

Marie Holmes listens to her mother’s confession.
Source: Oprah

Holmes was in disbelief and asked her mom why she didn’t tell her before, to which she replied that she only wanted her daughter and grandkids to have a better life. After the show, Holmes was being accused of stealing the winning ticket, despite the fact that the mother said she gave it to her daughter willingly. Also, during the taping of the show, Holmes found out that her boyfriend was going back to jail. This time, it was a seven-year sentence for possession and distribution of drugs. The lottery evidently didn’t do much good for Ms. Holmes…