Last month saw the UK’s biggest EuroMillions lottery winners receive a record-breaking £184,262,899 – an amount that is almost too big to imagine in physical terms. Picturing millions of pound coins or thousands of £50 banknotes stacked up will make the mind boggle.
Joe and Jess Thwaite, a lucky couple from Gloucester, scooped the win in May. Their winnings mean they can now retire immediately, buy multiple new homes (or mansions) and travel the world – or maybe I am just projecting my personal dreams on to them.
Winning the lottery and coming into possession of that much money sounds like a fantasy to most of us but to them it is now a reality. There is no doubt £184m is a life changing sum of money, instantly making the husband and wife worth more than stars like Adele and Ed Sheeran.
However, the win has divided public opinion. Some, on social media, felt that the couple “flaunting” their new found wealth was distasteful when many are choosing between eating and heating at the moment as the cost of living crisis continues.
One Twitter user wrote: “I wish the Euromillions winners all the best. But given the current situation we are all in, with the cost of living, I think going on TV to parade the win is seriously dire.”
Another added: “I know it is in the news and great for the couple but look at these news outlets constantly banging on about a biggest ever Euromillions win whilst reporting on the cost of living crisis every other day.”
Other commenters, with varying levels of colourful language, said they didn’t think it was right for the couple to make their win public (it is an option whether to make yourself and your winnings known to the world or not).
They argued that by doing so, they are rubbing their new found wealth in the face of those who are unable to pay their bills. I can understand the anger coming from some, especially those who are being hit hardest by the current price hikes.
Some, undoubtedly, will believe that someone living on the breadline would have been a far worthier winner whilst others even called for the winners to share the money with members of the public. Another said the National Lottery should hand out the funds to multiple winners, noting this would help more than just a fortunate two.
I imagine the Thwaites received more negative attention than others might have as some felt they were less “deserving” with reports claiming they already own a £600,000 Cotswolds home which they share with their two children, ponies and chickens.
Equally, I can see why others were interested in hearing about a middle aged couple winning a record breaking amount of money. With consistently bad news dominating the headlines, it can be uplifting to hear of something positive and of people getting good news for once.
But the reaction to the news highlights the delicate state the UK is in right now. It can be difficult for people to celebrate those with good fortune at a time when millions of consumers are facing ongoing financial struggles that look set to continue for the foreseeable future.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to whether Lottery winners want to reveal themselves to the public – or how their audience receives it. However, with the National Lottery at risk of being suspended as a row over the ownership continues, it may be that, for the first time in 28 years, there will be no winners at all.