When a mother won one of Australia’s biggest lottery jackpots, it made international headlines.
The anonymous Sydney woman, in her 40s, became AU$107 million ($76.9 million) richer on Jan. 17, giving her financial freedoms she could only dream about before her numbers were drawn.
The woman confirmed she will not resign from her job at a health care provider and plans to share her winnings with her family members, donate a “slab” of money to her favorite charity, and “buy a caravan and travel around” the country.
“I’m so passionate about my job. It will drive me to do more health work for causes important to me,” she told The Lott. “I’m not quite sure what to do but of course I will be helping my family.”
However, several months or years down the money trail, not all previous lotto winners still enjoy their sudden change of wealth and attention.
Despite their efforts to live a normal life with a massive bank balance, the temptation is most difficult to resist.
‘Wasteful’ Spending Ends in Bloodshed
Maria Lou Devrell, 55, from Tamworth, New South Wales, won $5 million ($3.59 million) from Oz Lotto back in 1999 and frustrated her trusted accountant by spending money too quickly.
Peter Joseph Kelly was so mad at Maria’s “wasteful” spending that he hit the woman with a rubber mallet until she died. The woman’s husband had known Kelly for more than 20 years, according to media reports.
“A situation emerged in which they were spending money more quickly than it was being allocated to them by the offender,’’ Justice Robert Allan Hulme said in sentencing Kelly to a maximum of 18 years in jail in 2012. “He seems to have had the attitude that they were being wasteful.’’
Teenager’s Life ‘Ruined’
Callie Rogers, 16, won 1.875 million pounds ($2.43 million) making her Britain’s youngest lotto winner in 2003.
Rogers, who had been in foster care at Cumbria, splashed money on luxury presents for her family members and friends and spent thousands of dollars on big party nights. She paid for breast cosmetic surgery, designer clothes, and $298,510 on cocaine.
Just six years later, she said none of it made her happy and even “ruined” her life. Rogers tried to commit suicide after discovering her boyfriend cheated on her. She became a mother and had to move back with her own mother, doing three cleaning jobs to make ends meet. “My life is a shambles,” she said in 2009.
A decade after winning the lotto, Rogers found happiness once her fortune was gone.
“It was too much money for someone so young. Even if you say your life won’t change, it does and often not for the better,” she told The Sun. “The pressure to splash out and live a glam party life has gone–and I prefer it,” she said.
Died Broke and Lonely
English baker Keith Gordon thought it was Christmas when he won $10 million in 2005.
The Shropshire man quit his job and invested in lackluster racehorses that lost him a lot of money, and made him a heavy drinker who eventually went into rehabilitation.
After being happily married for 25 years his wife left him. Gordon finally lost more than $1 million after a conman scammed him out of his money.
“My life was brilliant but the lottery has ruined everything,” he told The Times in 2010. “What’s the point of having money when it sends you to bed crying? I thought the lotto win was going to be the answer to my dreams. Now those dreams have turned to dust.”
Gordon finally hit rock-bottom, was broke and died of a heart attack that family and friends blamed on his “money stress.”
Some Strike the Right Balance
Psychologist Zoe Krupka believes many lotto winners will eventually need counselling because it gives “terrible freedom.”
“There needs to be a step before financial counselling. Couples need to talk about how they want to spend their money and who they want to share it with,” Krupka told News Limited.
She suggests the secret to surviving a lottery win is finding the right way to share news of your wealth since it cannot be hidden forever.
“The reality is it can be good for lots of people but there’s no doubt it’s always really stressful,” Krupka said.