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Record Powerball winner's granddaughter missing

Friday, December 10, 2004

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Record Powerball winner Jack Whittaker has reported his 17-year-old granddaughter missing, police said late Thursday.

Family members had not seen or heard from Brandi Lasha Bragg since 9 p.m. Saturday when she was at her Hurricane home, Putnam County Sheriff's Sgt. Lisa Arthur said.

"At this time we're treating this as an unusual disappearance," Arthur said. "Normally someone would see her at least on a daily basis, someone in the family."

Arthur said Whittaker reported Bragg missing sometime this week. While Arthur has been in contact with Whittaker, she said she did not know his current whereabouts.

Bragg was registered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as of late Thursday. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to contact the sheriff's department at (304) 586-0214.

Whittaker, a 57-year-old businessman, won a $314.9 million Powerball jackpot on Christmas Day 2002. He took his winnings in a lump sum of $113 million after taxes.

On Tuesday, a magistrate ordered Whittaker to undergo substance abuse treatment and surrender his driver's license following his second drunken driving arrest this year.

Whittaker has been in the news several times since he won the lottery. He spent $14 million to set up a not-for-profit foundation to help residents find jobs, buy food or receive an education.

He is named in two lawsuits by female employees of a racetrack who allege Whittaker assaulted them last year; and his vehicle, business and home have been allegedly broken into a number of times.

In September, a man's body was found at his home, though the death was not a crime and Whittaker was out of town. Also, he faces charges for allegedly assaulting and threatening a bar manager in January.


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