A big lottery win is the stuff of dreams for thousands of hard-up families across the UK. But for some winners, sweet turns to sour all too quickly when the money runs out. This article from debt advice experts, Bankruptcy Clinic, takes a look at five lottery winners who once had it all – only to lose it at breathtaking speed.
Young Callie was just 16 when she scooped a £1.9 million jackpot in 2003. And sadly, her youth and inexperience got the better of her when it came to ‘managing’ her millions. 10 years later, she was left with just £2,000 in the bank – but said she was much happier that way.
In media interviews, Callie described her lottery win as a ‘curse’ and spoke of how she wasted the money on drugs, plastic surgery, holidays and partying. At her lowest point, she attempted suicide three times, but has since got her life back on track and is studying to become a nurse.
Lara and Robert Griffiths
Riches soon turned to rags for this unfortunate couple, who won £1.8 million in 2005. Despite consulting financial advisers, both Lara and Robert started spending recklessly on luxury goods and, in Robert’s case, getting his old band back together and recording an album. Just seven years after becoming millionaires, the couple were left with nothing after a number of investments went badly wrong.
And Lara and Robert’s bank account wasn’t the only casualty, as their marriage failed as well.
It took former security guard John just three years to dispense with the £3.1 million fortune he won in 1998. John has since blamed the loss of his lottery win on unscrupulous ‘friends’ who encouraged him to make poor investment decisions. However, it can’t be denied that John himself was also to blame, as he used his winnings to buy 40 cars and was then caught speeding – twice.
John’s story took an added turn for the bizarre when it was revealed that he thought he’d bought a pub – only for his lawyers to discover that his name wasn’t on the paperwork. By 2001, John’s cars and £300,000 home had been repossessed, he was living in a caravan and he was in debt to the tune of £20,000.
You might be surprised to read that the so-called ‘King of Chavs’ initially took a sensible approach to his newfound fortune of £9.7 million. Former bin collector Michael set up an investment bond with £4 million of his winnings, but the 19 year old couldn’t resist temptation. His lifestyle soon spiralled out of control and before long, the rest of his money was gone – blown on drugs, cars, parties and jewellery.
By 2010, just eight years after his lottery win, Michael had cleaned out his investment fund and, after being hit with heavy withdrawal fees, declared bankrupt. Since then, he’s served two jail terms, split up with his wife, lived rough and attempted suicide. He now earns a low wage at a biscuit factory in Scotland, saying in 2013 that he’s finally found happiness.
A 1997 lottery jackpot winner, John managed to get through £10 million in just 10 years – with an extra £2 million debt on top. The former hospital porter certainly splashed out in the early days of his win, giving money to family and friends and buying cars worth £500,000. But ironically, it was an investment decision that led to his financial downfall.
John was invited to join the board of Scottish second division football club, Livingstone and invested £4 million in the club as part of the deal. The players repaid his generosity by reaching the Scottish Premier League – but the club itself promptly went bust. John had used his own money to guarantee club loans, leaving him with £2 million worth of debt.
Bankruptcy Clinic says
Andy Gorton, Bankruptcy Clinic’s Managing Director, comments: ‘These tales of woe show how easy it is for people with fabulous wealth to fall from grace in just a few short years. Of course, stories like these can be easily avoided by taking sound financial advice and exercising some self-control! But things are very different for the “man on the street” who’s been plunged into debt due to the simple struggle to make ends meet.’
‘If you’re in this situation, don’t bury your head in the sand – ask Bankruptcy Clinic to help. Our qualified advisers are here to lend a friendly ear and talk through your money problems in confidence. After taking the time to understand your unique circumstances, we’ll then clearly explain the debt solutions that are open to you. These could include an informal Debt Management Plan, an IVA, a Debt Relief Order or even bankruptcy.’
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