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From the archive: Abraham Shakespeare, a lottery winner who lost everything, including his life

Florida Lotto winner Abraham Shakespeare, of Lakeland, won a $17 million jackpot, only to squander virtually all of it away within two years. [Times files]
Florida Lotto winner Abraham Shakespeare, of Lakeland, won a $17 million jackpot, only to squander virtually all of it away within two years. [Times files]
Published Jan. 11, 2016

Lottery history is riddled with rags to riches — and back to rags — tales of people who struck gold only to see it all slip away.

Wednesday's Powerball jackpot, likely to exceed $1 billion, has us thinking back on winners whose luck didn't stick.

In Tampa Bay, one man embodies that sad narrative better than any other: Abraham Shakespeare.

The illiterate, occasional sanitation worker from Lakeland won a $17 million jackpot in 2006. When he died on April 6, 2009, he had just $14,000 left.

Investigators said Shakespeare, who quit the eighth-grade to join his father in the fields, "couldn't tell $6,000 from $60,000." He could barely use a cellphone.

He had squandered almost all of his winnings by 2008, and then things got even worse.

He met Dorice "DeeDee" Moore, who offered to write his life story. Instead, she grabbed his home and the remnants of his fortune in 2009. Then she killed him.

Read past stories about Shakespeare's life and death:

Missing Central Florida lottery winner just fed up or was it foul play?

Lotto case suspect DeeDee Moore has record of staging schemes

Paper trail explains how DeeDee Moore landed in jail

Jurors quickly find DeeDee Moore guilty of lottery winner's murder