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David Lee Edwards, following 2005 drug arrest

David Lee Edwards is noted for winning a $27.1M (after taxes) share of the multi-state Powerball jackpot in 2001, and then blowing the entire sum within less than six years due to overspending and drug abuse.

David Lee Edwards was an out-of-work ex-convict living in Ashland, Kentucky when he won his $46M before-tax Powerball jackpot in 2001. Within days of winning, Edwards was a regular media fixture in his native Kentucky. During a Louisville press conference hosted by the Kentucky Lottery, Edwards promised to spend his winnings wisely: "And so I didn't want to accept this money by saying I'm going to get mansions and I'm going to get cars, I'm going to do this and that," said Edwards. "I would like to accept it with humility. I want this money to last, for me, for my future wife, for my daughter and future generations." Edwards chose to receive his winnings in cash rather than the annuity option, which left him with $27.1 million after taxes.

Before Edwards had even gotten his first lottery payment, he arranged for a short-term $200K loan from an attorney to take himself and then-fiance Shawna on an expensive Vegas vacation. Within six days, that money was gone. Shortly after getting his winnings, Edwards married Shawna in Hawaii.

Edwards went on to purchase a $1M-plus mansion in the BallenIsles development in Palm Beach, Florida, along with 18 cars (including a Bentley, Ferrari, and Lamborghini) and a house full of expensive luxury items and furniture----many of which were fake "antiques". Edwards also appeared in numerous TV interviews and TV specials for networks such as NBC, MSNBC, and The Learning Channel in which he bragged about his winnings and showed off all the expensive items he had purchased with his newfound riches. On these TV specials, Edwards showed off his solid-gold Rolex, luxury car collection, and many of the "antiques" for which he'd paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy from fly-by-night dealers; many of the items he purchased were later found to be worthless reproductions. Edwards also bought a private jet, several racehorses, a $600,000 home in Palm Springs, California and interests in several failed business ventures. He was also known to drive around his hometown of Ashland, Kentucky and hand large sums of money out to strangers.

Shawna Edwards was an active drug addict at the time of the lottery win; David Edwards also had a history of substance abuse. Within two years of the lottery win, both of them were abusing illegal drugs on a regular basis. Shawna used large amounts of crack and heroin, while Edwards used OxyContin. It is also rumored that Edwards supplied many of his old friends in Kentucky with large supplies of drugs following his lottery win; many of those friends later died of overdoses.

By 2004, David and Shawna Edwards were having marital and legal problems. Police were summoned to the Palm Beach mansion when Shawna stabbed David with a crack pipe. David Edwards paid for Shawna to go to drug rehabilitation several times, and asked a Broward County judge to commit her forcefully to rehabilitation. David Edwards also sued Jeffrey Chandler, a former financial advisor who Edwards said had bilked him out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. David Edwards filed for divorce from Shawna that year, but they later reconciled.

By 2005, it was clear the money was nearly gone, and both David and Shawna Edwards had become heavy drug users. Flordia Child Protective Services were called to investigate the couple for child abuse, since neither of their children were attending school and drugs were abused in the house in full view of the children. The state took the Edwards' children away and placed them in foster care. Charges were filed; Shawna and David later pleaded guilty to drug-possession charges and thus avoided jail. Shortly thereafter, The BallenIsles Community Association placed a property lien on their Palm Beach mansion because David owed $2,599.81 in unpaid maintenance fees and interest. In December 2006, Bank of America sued David to recover $170,787.74 that he owed on his Visa card. These bills were never paid.

In April 2006, with bills piling up, the community association forced the Edwards house into foreclosure; by now, David owed the association $8,642.75. David Edwards did not have the cash to pay the bill, so the community association took possession of the home and sold it at auction. Real-estate investors Gerti Kleicamp and Alfons Schmitt bought the Edwards home for $900,000, plus the late maintenance fees. When Kleicamp took possession of the house in early June, David was still residing there. Kleicamp had him and his belongings physically removed.

David and Shawna were forced to move into a warehouse storage unit in Riviera Beach, FL where their collection of cars and luxury items were stored. The couple lived in the warehouse unit for nearly a year, often without electricity, shooting up drugs.

By the time they were evicted in July 2007, the warehouse unit was filled with dirty laundry, used hypodermic needles, and human excrement. The Edwardses' remaining possessions (mostly gaudy furniture and fake antiques from the Palm Beach home) were auctioned off to pay for the back rent on the warehouse unit. The auctioneer estimated the entire lot of 104 items was worth no more than $140,000, though David Edwards had easily paid ten or twelve times that for the items.

David and Shawna Edwards are now broke and destitute and living with relatives in Ashland, Kentucky. David Edwards is severely ill due to complications from hepatitis and other issues related to his drug abuse. Shawna Edwards has been in and out of jail due to drug charges and nonpayment of child support. No trace of their $27.1M Powerball jackpot remains.

See also

  • Michael Carroll - a similar story from the UK


  • External links

  • "Powerfall" (Broward-Palm Beach new Times)








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