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Some Think Winning Lottery Jackpot Is Cursed

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Sure we all dream of hitting it big this weekend and winning hundreds of millions in the Powerball drawing, but if you do - are you ready for the 'curse'?

Cue dramatic organ music - da - da - dum. It seems the prospect of becoming an overnight millionaire doesn't always lead to happiness.

While most players say they'll take that risk, they'll have to win first.

The chances of striking it rich are slimmer than ever. Last October, the Powerball game was restructured. In doing so, the odds of winning the top prize went from 1 in 175-million to 1 in 292-million.

If if they do defy the odds and win big, they could still end up a loser.

"The historical assumption is if you win the lottery you're set," said attorney Andrew Stoltmann. "Unfortunately, the overwhelmingly majority of lottery winners don't have that story."

Stoltmann said he's represented six people who have seen their lottery winnings disappear.

"Once this person wins the lottery they become a global target. There are literally people across the world who put these people on a list to harass and harangue and try to sell bad investments and also just try to take their money," said Stoltmann.

Last year a study found that 44-percent of lottery winners spend their winnings within five years. Some call these misfortunes 'the lottery curse', when winners find their luck has run out.

For example, in 2002 Jack Whittaker hit the Powerball jackpot and won nearly $315-million. Years later his family life fell apart and he was arrested twice.

Then there's Abraham Shakespeare of Lakeland. In 2009 he won the Florida lottery in 2006 and took a lump sum payout of $17-million in 2006. Three years later his family declared him missing. In 2010, his body was found buried under a concrete slab in the backyard of an acquaintance, "Dee Dee" Moore, who was convicted in Shakespeare's murder and sentenced to a life term without the possibility of parole.

Just this week, Powerball winner Marie Holmes made headlines after spending millions bailing her boyfriend out of jail yet again.

Michael Norton, author of "Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending," suggests the key to happiness is sharing some of the prize money.

"First off, lots of people end up perfectly fine. People who struggle after winning the lottery actually are the people who do things like quit their job, buy an island and move to it," said Norton.

With near a billion dollars on the line, plenty of people are willing to take the gamble.

"What else in the world could you possibly buy for two or four dollars where walking around carrying it for a couple of days makes you feel like maybe you're gonna be a multi-millionaire tomorrow," said Norton.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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