Who wants to be a millionaire? Well, I guess most people, and most people probably wonder what it would be like to win the lottery and even spend time daydreaming about what they would do with all that money. Cars, houses, holidays, maybe even a private island. Winning the lottery would be great wouldn’t it? Winning the lottery would be an end to all of your problems – yes? Well, for some of us it is and for others it is just the beginning of them.
When Donna Campbell’s husband, Arnim Ramdass, began keeping the television switched off and then disconnected all the phones in the house, she started to think something was going on. But it wasn’t until she Googled him, after finding a post-card about a new home he had recently purchased, that she discovered he’d won $600,000 on the Florida lottery as part of a $10.2 million dollar winning syndicate. Unfortunately she discovered his secret a little too late when her husband disappeared along with the money. Donna now wants a divorce and half the money but Arnin can’t be found to serve the legal papers to.
Lottery wins seem to have the potential to bring out the worst in us. Gwyn Badham-Davies was pleased that he’d won £10 when he checked his lottery ticket at his local newsagent. The shopkeeper smiled as she happily handed over his tenner, but the beaming smile of Anne Jeevarajah, masked a premeditated attempt to steal the small fortune he had actually won. Jeevarajah had noticed that her regular customer’s ticket carried five winning numbers and the bonus ball – worth £156,659. The following week she and her husband Alfred contacted Camelot and tried to claim the prize. But Lottery officials became suspicious with the length of time they’d waited before claiming, along with the fact that the winning ticket was registered in their shop – so called in the police. They were both charged with theft and fraud and each jailed for 14 months, whilst Mr. Badham-Davies received his rightful winnings from Camelot.
Sometimes when daydreams of a millionaire lifestyle become reality it has the habit of turning very sour. Winner’s personalities can often change overnight and isolation, paranoia, drink, drugs, crime, prison and even poverty await those who simply can’t cope with their new found riches.
William “Bud” Post
When Pennsylvanian lottery winner William “Bud” Post won $16.2 million back in 1988, the last thing he expected was that his brother would hire a hitman to have him killed or that his girlfriend would sue him for half his winnings. These events, on top of investing in a number of ‘ill-fated’ family businesses, meant that in less than a year the $16 million fortune turned to a $1m debt. These days Bud gets by on memories and social security payments.
They say that money can’t buy you love or happiness, and for three ‘lucky’ UK lottery winners this certainly proved to be the case.
Mark Gardiner from London won £11m in 1995 and over 13 years later he still had most of his money. But along the way somehow he’d lost all his friends – even the ones that he’d bought new £100,000 homes for – and lost touch with all of his family.
Luke Pittard from Wales soon tired of the ‘good life’ once the lavish holiday, dream wedding, and new luxury home had lost their charms. The boredom of wealth led to Luke, who won £1.3m on the National Lottery, to return to his old job at MacDonalds in an attempt to regain his happiness.
Michael Carroll became Mr. Big when he won a £9.7m National Lottery jackpot in 2002. Unfortunately, since then he has appeared in court more than 30 times, been jailed for drug related offences, and in 2008 admitted that he had ‘only’ £500,000 of his big win left.
Perhaps the most tragic big winner, wasn’t a big winner at all. Way back in April 1995 Timothy O'Brien committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. O’Brien believed that his half-share of a five-week ticket on Britain's National Lottery had expired just before the draw and that it would have made him a multi-millionaire. But O’Brien had literally made a fatal mistake. His ticket hadn’t expired at all, but ironically even if he hadn’t held a valid ticket, he wouldn't have won the £3.2 million anyway – his usual numbers had only had four of the six numbers matched in that draw; posthumously netting him the magnificent sum of just £47.
Of course luck can run either way. Croatian lottery winner, Frane Selak, seemed to be either the luckiest or unluckiest man in the world. In the course of a long and hard life he managed to escape death from a derailed train, survived being sucked out of a door-less plane, emerged alive after the bus he was on crashed and then plunged into a river, walked free from his car when it burst into flames, received only minor injuries when he was hit by a bus, even escaping certain death when he drove off a cliff to escape an oncoming truck and managed to land in a fall-breaking tree as his car exploded 300 feet beneath him. Each time Frane was lucky to survive, but unlucky to be in such predicaments in the first place; and he began to wonder just what other misfortunes were around the corner for him. But then, in 2003, his luck seemed to turn and he won $1,000,000 dollars in the Croatian lottery. Even so, Frane refused to fly to Australia, saying that he “didn't want to test his luck”
It seems that even when ‘Lady Luck’ smiles there’s always a chance that our luck won’t hold, or our own nature might get the better of us. So let’s weigh it up, is it better to not win and never have the chance of it going wrong on you, or to win and take your chances?