Carroll exposed the latent nihilsm in blowing a fortune on drugs and luxury goods by pairing his spending binges with physical destruction. His daily activities tended to include some kind of violence for sport. Carroll made over thirty court appearances during his brief window of wealth, harbingers of his impending ruin, and these hearings detailed some of his more theatrical transgressions: the hotel chandelier he destroyed by trying to swing from it, the neighborhood cars he assaulted with projectiles, his homemade set pieces of demolition tracks in his backyard and the catapults he mobilized by strapping them to his car. Assault, vandalism, affray — charges he answered with hundreds of hours of community service when he wasn’t giving interviews and playing it up for paparazzi with champagne glasses and layers of gold jewelry as props. Like many people might in his situation, Carroll tried to used his winnings to leverage himsel into an entertainment career, taking his turn on the small screen in a celebrity boxing match with Rhino, a body builder and cast member of the UK hit show Gladiators. He made occasional public displays of contrition, like his offer to buy Christmas lights for his entire town, which they rejected — he was a pariah by that point.
+ + +
Michael Carroll may be a lout, but he’s a lout with a sense of humor, a taste for the absurd, and a lack of inhibition combined with the finances to manifest his vision. But why was money such an immediate catalyst for his drives? He grew up in extreme poverty; was acquiring the money traumatic? Was he acting out an internalized idea that people with money are violent because he felt victimized by the wealthy for so long? In a capitalist society, does our ability to most honestly express ourselves depend on how much money we have? Carroll’s brief window of wealth was a paean to baroque excess, and while reports vary about how much money, if any, he has left, it’s clear that his bender is over for now. There are book deals, movie deals, and talk of a huge loan to manage his debt, but his friends reportedly worry that he will quickly divest his life of any good fortune, as he’s done in the past. He also recently became a father.
“I want my kid to follow its dreams. If he wants to be a bank robber, that’s cool with me.”