Today, the 35-year-old “penniless millionaire” rides the bus to work and struggles to make ends meet until her next paycheck.
Nine years ago, Tirabassi, of Hamilton, Ontario Canada, cashed in her winning Powerball ticket and collected $10,569,000.10.
At first Tirabassi and her then-boyfriend, Vinny, also 35, were ecstatic at their good fortune. They shared the wealth with family and close friends, lavishing their loved ones with gifts, cash, cars, and exotic trips. She gave her parents $1 million cash and divided another $1.75 million among her siblings.
She married Vinny in 2004, and they bought a dream home together for $515,000. They spent money recklessly, and at one point owned 4 cars — a bright yellow Hummer, a Mustang, a Dodge Charger and a $200,000-plus, customized Cadillac Escalade. Most of the $200,000 was spent on the Caddy’s elaborate sound system, which didn’t endear them to their neighbors.
Her personal license plate read: “BABIPHAT,” after Kimora Lee’s now-defunct clothing line.
Tirabassi said she didn’t like her neighbors. “They didn’t like young people,” she says.
Her available cash reserves seemed endless. Tirabassi said she would check her bank account from time to time, but there were so many zeroes she thought everything was fine.
“You don’t think it’ll go (at the time), right?” she says. Then one day she checked her bank account and the money was almost gone.
“And that was time for fun to stop and to just go back to life,” she says.
Her husband Vinny served 2 stints in prison and, eventually, she lost the house and all the cars (Vinny crashed the Mustang).
Even though she’s broke, she says she’s happier today than she was when she was a millionaire.
She’s employed as a personal support worker and she provides for her husband’s 3 kids and her 3 kids from a previous relationship.
What’s left of her jackpot is locked in a mandatory trust fund for the children, which they will receive when they turn 26.
Tirabassi says she’s happy that at least her children will be okay. Money is tight now, but she appreciates the little things in life.
“Money is the root of all evil,” she says, recalling all her “friends” who disappeared when the money ran out.
“Money doesn’t buy you happiness. It caused her a lot of headaches,” Vinny says.
“All of that other stuff was fun in the beginning,” says Tirabassi, “Now it’s like … back to life.”
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