Mr. Edward Seward went to dinner at a Waffle House restaurant in Grand Bay, Alabama, USA, on March 7, 1999. Because he wasn’t bringing much money, he gave a tip to Tonda Dickerson with a lottery ticket in her wallet, instead of a few dollars as usual. The simple alternative unexpectedly changed the life of a poor woman.
Tonda Dickerson discovered a week later that the lottery ticket given to her won a jackpot worth 10 million USD (230 billion VND). In today’s value, that amount is equivalent to 16.4 million USD (about 374 billion VND). The unexpected happiness overwhelmed Tonda. From here, she thought her life would turn into a new chapter, but it turned out to be a continuous nightmare.
A poor waitress becomes a millionaire overnight
Instead of receiving a one-time payment, Tonda chose to receive 375,000 USD a month for 30 years. In preparation for a more prosperous future, she quit her job at the restaurant. In her late thirties, Tonda recently divorced and has a low-paying job. She was delighted by the sudden luck and was looking forward to the future.
However, the joy was short-lived, and Tonda found herself in an unexpected mess. Before she could receive the money, the entire staff of the Waffle House restaurant filed a lawsuit against her. Tonda had to share the money because the employees had an unwritten rule to split tips equally every day.
Initially, the court only ordered Tonda to keep $ 3 million for herself and the rest was to be divided between other employees. She appealed and won a judgment to receive both $ 10 million.
Waffle House employees in front of the court when they think they will be divided in the first trial
Tonda continues to be sued by Edward Seward – the guest who tipped her lottery ticket. According to this man, she promised to buy him a new truck as a thank you gift, but she broke her word. Tonda still won the case since Edward was unable to provide any evidence.
However, the trouble isn’t over yet. Just a few days later, Tonda meets another disaster. She is kidnapped for ransom. She was k.i.d.n.a.p.p.e.d not by a stranger, but by her ex-husband who had recently divorced her. She was taken to an abandoned pier, forced to divide the money with him or else he would s.h.o.o.t her. Tonda s.h.o.t her ex-husband while resisting. Though she s.h.o.t the injured person, she was not charged because it was determined to be an act of self-defense.
As a result of the series of complications that the money “falling from the sky” brings, Tonda made an unexpected decision, which was to give most of the winnings to her family in order to return home. She now lives in peace.
Tonda said the money brought only trouble and fear, and did not make her happy
12 years after winning the lottery, Tonda received a notice from the government for tax arrears. In order to transfer the winnings to her family, she had to pay a huge tax of more than $ 1.2 million. Since Tonda and her family chose to receive the money gradually every month, they also struggled to pay this amount.
Tonda Dickerson, who has been winning the lottery for over two decades, has been dubbed one of the “unluckiest lottery winners” by the US media. She complained of constant lawsuits, looming threats, broken relationships, and betrayal for money. Tonda still works every day to earn money in his middle age. The female millionaire, according to her Facebook page, works as a waitress at a casino in Mississippi every day.