Stress-free, comfortable living – it’s something we all deeply desire. Lotto winners over the world have experienced this dream coming true and have reveled in their newfound freedom. One winner, however, didn’t get to enjoy this dream for long…
Billie Bob Harrell Junior was a man of the church who was intent on becoming a preacher after graduating from high school. Billie Bob did everything he could to provide for his wife and three teenage sons. After moving from one low-paying job to another, he set his sights on studying at the Texas Bible College in Houston. Following his last job as a shelf stacker at Home Depot, his worries were completely behind him and a bright, educated future awaited.
In June 1997, an unexpected miracle happened for Billie Bob and his family when he hit the Texas Jackpot, winning $31-million. Harrel shared that he was never going to give up and that everyone had told him it would get better – he just never realized how much better it would get. Shortly after his win, Billie decided to put the money to what he thought was some good use at the time- a ranch, half a dozen homes for himself and his other family members as well as vehicles for himself, his wife, and his three sons.
Billi Bob’s spending of his new-found fortune didn’t stop there. He donated large sums of the money to his church and to members of his congregation who needed his help; he did not hesitate to provide them with what they needed and asked for. His generosity spiraled and he quickly became something of a father-figure to many around him. The pressure of this spending and lending cycle, however, quickly started to weight down on the 47-year-old and the tension started to build.
It was not long after Harrell picked up the first cheque in May 1999 that he couldn’t handle the stress any longer. A mere 20 months after his big win, he made a decision that would ultimately change his life, and the life of his loved ones around him. Tragically, Billie locked himself inside one of the bedrooms upstairs in his fashionable Kingwood home, stripped himself of all his clothes, pressed a shotgun barrel against his chest and pulled the trigger.
Not only was Billie Bob Harrell Junior gone forever, but so was his (mis)fortune. It later emerged that, shortly before his death, he had expressed that winning the lottery was the worst thing that had ever happened to him.
Being a new founded millionaire and living in the poor conditions that he did, it was only natural that he decided to give back to himself, his community, and his loved ones. It was time for him to make up for the past and help those around him who were in need. Unfortunately, the reality of the wealth and pressure from his surrounds became too much, cutting his life too short.
The greatest lesson from it all? Our dreams may come true, but stewardship thereof is of utmost importance. Surrounding yourself with wisdom, financial guidance and careful relationships will enable you to flourish, not flounder. May Billie Bob’s legacy be a helpful guide for us all.
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