WHAT would you do if you won the lotto? It is a question that many of us have asked ourselves. Buy a big house. Fancy boat. Swanky car. Glittering jewellery. Private island. All of the above? Each to their own, I guess.
But what I really want to know is this: would you tell anyone? This tantalising quandary popped into my head in recent days with news that someone in the UK has won the £184 million EuroMillions jackpot.
That sum eclipses the previous biggest lottery prize claimed by a UK ticketholder, an eye-watering £170m back in October 2019. The lucky person chose to remain anonymous.
It also surpasses the £161m that Scots couple Colin and Christine Weir won in 2011 – the biggest winners to have gone public.
Some years ago, I was at a posh soiree and got chatting to someone who had done a brief stint working behind-the-scenes at the National Lottery, helping winners through their tentative first days as new millionaires.
Out of curiosity, I asked: “If I ever win big, what advice would you give me?” The reply was swift: “Always tick the no publicity box.” That sage nugget has stayed with me.
We are all well-versed in seeing cheesy, posed photographs that show giddy lotto winners clutching oversized cheques and spraying champagne. Before the National Lottery, it used to be Football Pools winners who graced the pages of newspapers.
In 1986, a syndicate of hospital workers scooped the first £1m win on “the pools”. Then there was the legendary Viv Nicholson who, after she and her husband won £152,000 in 1961, famously vowed to “spend, spend, spend” and reportedly blew the equivalent of £3.5m at today’s values.
It sounded great fun, but I reckon there is a tipping point where the money becomes a burden rather than a blessing. Everyone is different. For some, £10m would do nicely. For others, anything over £100,000 could be a slippery slope to ruin.
There have been several lottery winners who have disappeared from view – only to reappear in subsequent years to recount alarmingly similar tales of caution about excess and regret. The deluge of begging letters they received. The fallouts with envious friends and family. The frittered money.
It doesn’t always end that way. I am sure there are plenty of instant millionaires living their best lives and finding that having a few extra bob in the bank has changed their world for the better. But until all those ones and zeros appear in your account, do you truly know for sure?
And another thing …
IS there nothing good to watch on Netflix? Has iPlayer gone on the blink? Silly question. But how else do you explain the current obsession with celebrity court cases?
From Johnny Depp’s defamation action against his ex-wife Amber Heard to the so-called “Wagatha Christie” trial – as Rebekah Vardy’s libel case against Coleen Rooney has been dubbed – it feels like everyone is turning armchair juror, certainly across large swathes of social media.
The soap opera-style twists and turns of legal proceedings are for many, no doubt, a welcome distraction from the drudgery of daily life. Seeking escapism through voyeurism is nothing new, but it feels like we’re reaching peak schadenfreude and I’m not sure that is a good thing.
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