If you’re after a win on the lotto you stand the best chances if you live in Ilford or Newcastle-upon-Tyne. That’s good news for me but gambling is a mug’s game so I’ll never find out. I like a little more in my favour than 50:1 odds on coming out with nine quid. When it comes to the big money, the hyperbole says you stand a better chance of being struck by lightning. And I have no time for the fatuous ‘you have to be in it to win it’ spiel. When I invest money I like to think that I’ve better odds of a good return and I bet that’s what Richard Branson feels too.
I don’t believe in the idea of ‘special numbers’; choosing birthdays, ages and other such figures. This seems to be backed up by the evidence. 49% of the lotto winners used the ‘Lucky Dip’ system. If I was a more nervous person I’d be more concerned over how a big win would ruin my life rather than how it would change it for the better. Sure, I’ve dreamed about what I could do with big wads of cash but then there are the kidnap plots, jealous neighbours, friends and relatives and tales of spectacular meltdowns it’s more than enough to cement my decision. Speaking of the downsides of a big win here is my selection of those people who have won big and then lost big. Perhaps you’ll think twice about putting your next pound on.
Hospital porter John McGuiness won £10million in 1997 and he must have thought that his luck was in. He married his fiancée, Sandra, in a lavish £200k ceremony, bought a 500k converted schoolhouse and invested £4million in his local football club; Livingston FC. It was his beloved club that would be his downfall. After joining the club’s board he managed to get himself wrapped up in their debts and now he is £2million in debt. He’s had his house seized, his Porsche taken off him but at least he did get chance to donate £500k to charity.
Antiques dealer turned multimillionaire, Michael Antonucci scooped £2.8million back in 1998. He did the usual ‘aspirational things’ with the money; wasting it on the playboy life, marrying a topless model a third of his age, buying cars, yachts, holidays and investing unwisely. No cynics would be surprised that the marriage was over in three months and the money was spent. At least she’d had a good time and a bigger pair of surgically enhanced breasts courtesy of Antonucci. Most recently he fell foul of an old unpaid debt and got himself into a bar fight that resulted in a court appearance. Read more.
So we’ve seen how mature winners blow their cash through stupidity. Perhaps you would expect the same from one of the UK’s youngest winners. Callie Rogers was only 16 when she won almost £2million in 2003. Her first purchase was a car that she got her boyfriend to chauffer her around in. It was great until he disappeared and took the car with him. Family rows and bullying from erstwhile friends and school kids drove her to depression and almost claimed her life when she attempted suicide. Thankfully she survived and today she is a much happier mother of two and still has money.
More often than not, you feel sorry for the Lottery losers but sometimes you don’t. One of the most infamous Lotto winners was Michael Carroll who claimed his winnings while wearing an electronic tag for breaching a community order for the offence of drink-driving. Carroll had a string of convictions and this sudden ‘good fortune’ didn’t help him turn his life around. Reckless spending on drugs, prostitutes and bling rapidly diminished his fortune. He bought a field beside his new £600k house and used it to run demolition derbies. The noise and nuisance it brought to his neighbours was unpleasant but thankfully it wasn’t to last. He’s now lost his money, the house, is alcoholic and back on the dole. Read more.
Claire Owen and Craig Pope
Was it a dream come true? A financially struggling couple with a five month old daughter won a £5million fortune on Christmas Eve 2005. A £400k house was a major improvement on their £55k property but it wasn’t long before the cracks in the couple’s relationship began to show. Claire was quoted as saying ‘It just shows that money can’t buy you happiness, Craig and I were happy when we were broke as we had each other and the baby.’
£3.4million wasn’t enough to keep ex-RAF employee from the straight and narrow. Following his scoop he resigned and spent a lot of time around the pubs and clubs of Swansea. With his wild parties it wasn’t long before the police raided his property and uncovered drugs possession with intent to supply. He was given a 12 months gaol sentence. Read more.
Mark Paltrow thought he was a lucky lad when in 2006 he won big on the Lottery. After spending £21k on a sex change operation the former forklift truck driver saw her marriage fail and was made redundant. In a local newspaper at the time she commented, ‘The money started dwindling and the arguments started.’ She believes that if she had stayed on the lengthy NHS waiting list her life would have been better and she probably wouldn’t have gone through with it. ‘I’ve ruined everything.’
If ever there was a more cautionary tale then consider this gentleman.
Described as a hard-working family man, 53 year-old Keith Gough and his wife, Louise, won £9million and they must have thought it would improve their simple but happy lifestyle. As is the way with these stories he ended up being conned out of his fortune, his 25 year marriage fell apart and five years later he was found dead with a bottle in hand. Read more.
Guest blogger, Greg Coltman, writes prolifically about money issues and finance and considers ‘a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work’ to be the best policy. Closet Marxist? He’s not sure.