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Powerball winner has $545,000 stolen while he's at strip club
August 6, 2003
CROSS LANES, W.Va.--A Powerball winner who has donated more than $3 million of his record winnings to churches was drinking at a strip club when $545,000 was stolen from his sport-utility vehicle, police said Tuesday.
Jack Whittaker said he hopes the incident will not affect the Jack Whittaker Foundation, which he established to help charities operated by the Church of God and other causes. He also said he wanted to remind the public he is a private citizen.
''I'm simply a businessman who has seen his share of failures and successes,'' he said. ''My personal life is my own and I make no excuses for my actions.''
Someone broke the driver's side window and took a briefcase containing $245,000 in cash and three $100,000 cashier's checks belonging to Whittaker, who hit Powerball's richest jackpot on Christmas Day, police said. The briefcase, cash and checks were found behind a nearby trash bin.
''It's a known fact that Mr. Whittaker does carry a lot of money around with him, because he does frequent not only that club, but several other establishments ... and he does gamble,'' said Kanawha County Sheriff Dave Tucker.
Whittaker first arrived at the Pink Pony on Monday evening. He left shortly after midnight, returning at 2:30 a.m. and leaving his vehicle's motor running, Tucker said. Whittaker discovered the broken window about 5 a.m.
He told deputies he was drugged after his return, and he provided police with a urine sample for analysis, Chief Deputy Phil Morris said. AP
Winner hopes theft incident won't harm charity
Cassie Means <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Daily Mail staff
Wednesday August 06, 2003; 10:00 AM
Jack Whittaker has made no excuses for actions that resulted in $545,000 being stolen from his idling sport-utility vehicle outside a Cross Lanes strip club.
Whittaker, who hit the largest Powerball jackpot in history Christmas Day, issued a statement Tuesday evening outlining the theft at the Pink Pony gentlemen's club. In his statement, the multi-millionaire urged the media and public to remember his status as a private citizen.
"I'm simply a businessman who has seen his share of failures and successes," he said. "My personal life is my own, and I make no excuses for my actions."
Whittaker, who created the Jack Whittaker Foundation after claiming $113 million in lottery winnings, said he hopes the incident will not affect his charity, which has donated about $3 million to area churches.
The theft occurred early Tuesday after Whittaker entered the Goff Mountain Road strip club. Although a briefcase containing $245,000 in $100 bills and $300,000 in cashier's checks was later found behind a Dumpster on the club's premises, the case remains under investigation.
Whittaker initially arrived at the club at 9:30 p.m. Monday. He left the bar at 12:30 a.m. to meet with an unidentified person at a local motel, Kanawha County Sheriff Dave Tucker said.
When his guest failed to arrive at the motel, Whittaker returned to the Pink Pony at 2:30 a.m., Tucker said. When he entered the club, Whittaker left his 2003 Lincoln Navigator locked but idling in the parking lot with a briefcase containing the money in the passenger's seat.
Whittaker then began drinking, and Tucker said club workers contend he became intoxicated.
Whittaker told deputies he was drugged and has submitted a urine sample. Results of a toxicology screening are not yet available.
Chief Deputy Phil Morris said regardless of whether Whittaker was drunk or drugged, he was incoherent.
"There's no confusion on the fact that he didn't have all his faculties," Morris said.
When Whittaker attempted to leave the Cross Lanes establishment at 5 a.m., he noticed a window of his vehicle was busted and the briefcase was missing, Tucker said.
He then tried to re-enter the club to call police, but bar workers would not let him in.
An altercation between Whittaker and the staff followed. "The people there didn't want him back in the club," Tucker said.
Morris said the staff failed to elaborate on why they wouldn't allow Whittaker back in but said they had been attempting to sober him by feeding him breakfast.
"They didn't explain that to our satisfaction," Morris said.
A window in a Dodge Intrepid owned by a bar manager also was busted during the incident. A CD player and CDs were recovered along with Whittaker's money near the Dumpster.
No arrests have been made in the thefts, but deputies say they have several suspects.
"In a case like this everyone becomes a suspect," Tucker said. "We're not leaving anything uncovered."
While everyone is being considered, Tucker placed a strong emphasis on investigating the Pink Pony's staff.
Tucker said evidence shows the suspects are familiar with Whittaker's inclination for carrying large sums of money.
"This is not a snatch-and-grab," he said. "They wanted to conceal it and return."
CROSS LANES, W.Va. -- More than half a million dollars stolen yesterday morning from a Powerball winner's vehicle parked outside a strip club has been recovered, a sheriff's deputy said.
Powerball winner Jack Whittaker chats with an unidentified woman in the parking lot of The Pink Pony as sheriff's deputies investigate the theft of more than half a million dollars from his SUV, background, yesterday in Cross Lanes, W.Va. (Chip Ellis, The Charleston Daily Mail via AP)
Someone broke a window in Jack Whittaker's sport utility vehicle around 2:30 a.m. and took a briefcase containing $245,000 in cash and three blank $100,000 cashier's checks, Kanawha County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Phil Morris said.
The briefcase, cash and checks were later found behind a trash bin on the property, Morris said.
Whittaker "gambles quite a bit, and we believe that's the reason that the large sum of money was in (his) possession at this time," he told the Charleston Daily Mail.
Whittaker claimed a $113 million cash option after winning a record $314.9 million Powerball jackpot on Christmas Day. He promised to give a tenth of his winnings to churches, and has so far given away at least $3 million, the newspaper said.
Police have suspects but no arrests have been made, Morris said. A window on a second vehicle parked on the lot also was broken, he said.
Whittaker was at the club as his Lincoln Navigator was being towed away, but left without commenting. His spokesman, Bill Bissett, did not return a telephone message seeking comment.
The Pink Pony is about a mile from Tri-State Racetrack & Gaming in Nitro, but it was not clear if Whittaker had been at the greyhound track.