First female winner of Germany's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire died penniless and alone

THE first female winner of Germany's Who Wants To be a Millionaire, Marlene Grabherr, has died.

The 61-year old died penniless and alone, despite winning 1 million German marks (S$829,084) from the show in May 2001, British newspaper The Daily Star reported on Wednesday.

Back then, the housewife from Swabia in Southwestern Germany thought the cash would change her life for the better.

However, as the years went by, she reportedly said the windfall ruined her life and destroyed her relations with her brothers and sisters.

She doled out money by the thousands for them to enjoy holidays abroad and purchase luxury cars, but they grew greedy and demanded more and more from her, reported The Daily Express.

Less than a decade after she hit the jackpot, she was broke and said she could not even afford to go to the dentist for basic treatment.

Eventually, the siblings no longer spoke.

In 2010, she told Germany's Bild newspaper: "Nothing is left. Only the house that we have built. My husband Edgar and I have to see how we will make ends meet."

But that was not the end of her troubles.

Her husband soon left her, and she developed a tumour in her mouth. Although it was benign, she could not afford to have it treated.

In her last days, she lived alone and in poverty in the small town of Gailingen in Southern Germany.

brynasim@sph.com.sg