So many Americans play the lottery, but why? One possibility is that fact that it is both fun to play and also offers the opportunity to become an instant millionaire. The latter is capable of turning a modest, working class person into someone who will never have to worry about financial problems again.
And it’s so accessible. Anyone can walk into a convenience store, pay a dollar or two and walk out with a lucky ticket. While the odds of winning it big are slim, that doesn’t stop people from playing the lottery everyday…
Those huge odds produce a lot of lottery losers. A majority of people who play big jackpot or states lottery inevitably lose. But what about the lucky person who wins? Well, it turns out that they may not be such big winners after all.
As a general rule, people who win the lottery are not accustomed to having millions of dollars at their disposal and when they are suddenly handed a massive check, many do not spend it wisely and end up losing everything in a matter of years,
Winners often spend excessively on unnecessary things like cars, houses, shopping sprees, and giving away money to anyone who asks. They usually quit their jobs and decide to retire with their earnings.
Once the average person gets millions of dollars handed to them, they are no longer content with the mundane and budgeted life they are accustomed to. They will want to see what it’s like to live in luxury and as a result, speed through the money quicker than they can keep track of.
Most lottery winners don’t consider investing some of their wealth or speaking with a lawyer or financial advisor to get advice. It could save the winners a lot of heartbreak and money if they chose to put some of their winnings aside.
In 2006, a couple from the U.K., Lara and Roger, hit it big when they had a winning ticket for the British lottery. But were these two careful with their jackpot or did they spend it all in one go? Read on to find out…
Your average husband and wife
Roger and Lara lived in West Yorkshire, England and they had a very average and uneventful life. They were just an ordinary couple leading an ordinary life, but they were content as a typical British working-class family with two children. They could never have imagined how much their lives would change overnight and not in the way you might be thinking. Their lives changed forever one fateful day when they did something not unusual but it had unusual consequences. What had happened was about to turn Roger and Lara’s ordinary lives completely upside down to the point of no return. Everything was about to change for the two, and all because of one lottery ticket.
Before they made it big, Lara and Roger were not poor by any standard. They had both attended college and had degrees in their respective fields. They both had decent jobs and brought home above average salaries. Roger worked as an IT technician while Lara was a performing arts teacher. Their combined salary was around $100,000 a year, which is pretty good. They were making their mortgage payments without struggle and could have continued living their lives in peace and make do with what they already had. The pair maintained an average middle-class lifestyle until one day, when something happened and everything changed in ways they could not imagine at the time.
A lot of luck
So what does it take to win the lottery? Well you might have a better change of being struck by lighting because the chances of winning are around one in a million. Most people know how small their chances are but choose to play either for fun or because they get an adrenaline rush knowing that they could have millions of dollars in their hands. Whatever the reason, most lotteries are chosen through random numbers which makes the odds of winning so low.
Lara and Roger were going about their normal life and doing their daily routine in 2005. Like many other people, Lara and Roger sometimes played the lottery which cost around one pound. Since it was so cheap, they did not get upset about losing. It was a fun thing they did now and then, until they made it big and were very happy that they played the lottery.
So it was not out of the ordinary when Roger decided to stop by a convince store one day after work and pick up a lottery ticket. He and Lara had played many times before so Roger did not think anything of the ticket and assumed he would most likely lose. However, the couple were given the surprise of their life when they realized they had the winning ticket! They could not believe their eyes.
Time to celebrate
Roger and Lara were millionaires! they had won a jackpot worth $2.4 million and now had more money than they had ever seen in their lives. The couple intended to spend their money and live a luxurious lifestyle. They had no plans to invest or to speak to a financial planner. They couple did not even tell their parents about their win. They ordered takeout and drank champagne at home.
When people first win the lottery, they are understandably excited and the tend to tell anyone that will listen about their big win. Sometimes they get their picture in the newspaper or appear on television holding a big cheque. This is a very dangerous choice as it often leads to friends and family of the winner chasing them down to hand over some cash. It also publicizes your name to criminals and the fact that you have a lot of money.
When they found out they had won, Lara and Roger immediately quit their jobs. They now had no income and thought that they could live very comfortably off of their earnings. They were free to do whatever they wanted and they were no longer tied down to their jobs. They felt like the lottery had liberated them and they were happier than ever. However, that happiness would not last long…
Lara and Roger’s downfall began when they decided to quit their jobs. Most lottery winners choose to quit their jobs which is definitely not a smart decision. Most millionaires remain millionaires by earning money but becoming a millionaire through the lottery means that you will eventually use up all of the money you won unless you invest it or continue to work. Would Lara and Roger lose all of their money or would they spend it wisely?
Save your money
If we can learn anything from lottery winners it is that it is essential to contact someone who has experience with investing or saving money such as a financial advisor. Getting a professional opinion would provide lottery winners with some security and help them plan out the best way to ensure they do not lose all of their money. Sadly, as we know, most lottery winners will ignore this advice and be overcome with excitement about spending their fortune.
A modest lifestyle
This was Roger and Lara’s house before they won the lottery. While it is not a mansion, it was big enough for a family of four and was a comfortable home. They lived in between York and Leeds in a town called Boston Spa. Their house was in a nice neighborhood, had four bedrooms, and the couple had no issues making their payments for their mortgage. They were about to make a big upgrade to their house.
The family were excited to make some lifestyle changes and buy things they never could have afforded before. Their first big purchase was a new Audi convertible which was a bit different than the family’s previous modest car. The next big splurge was for a trip to Dubai. They flew first-class (obviously) and stayed in the nicest suite in their hotel.
Lara and Roger did not stop there. They decided that they needed to buy a bigger home now that they were millionaires. They even landed on a British reality show entitled, ‘Location Location Location’. The couple were on an episode where they searched for a house that was fit for their newfound wealth. The house they chose was a redone, modern barn, however, it did not seem to be good enough for the new millionaires.
Lara and Roger had neglected to take into consideration that the home they had just purchased did not come furnished. After they spent a large sum of money on the house, they now had to go out and spend more of their winnings filling the rooms. They spent a total of $33,000 buying top end furniture. They did not consider moving in the furniture from their old house as that would not fit with their new lifestyle.
Some people might think that it would have been a good idea for the two to stop there and save the rest of the money. But Lara and Roger opted to spend even more of their winnings. They kept hopping all over the world with lavish vacations and even spent some evenings at a high-end hotel in London that had a price tag of $400 a night. With no income and a lot of spending, Roger and Lara had forgotten that their money would not last forever.
After they had visited all of the places they wanted to see and spending more and more of their time in London, the couple decided to spend more of their earnings on shopping sprees in London. Lara was excited to have the opportunity to purchase whatever she wanted and spent her days in high-end stores buying designer clothes and luxury goods. She bought a whole new wardrobe and purses from brands like Louis Vuitton.
Spending more on their girls
Not only did Lara spend money on her own clothes, she also wanted her two children to be happy and gave them whatever they wanted. Besides the new toys and clothes, Roger and Lara invested in their daughter’s education and sent them to one of the best girls private schools in northern England. The girls were in class with children of some of the wealthiest families in England with a price tag of $26,500 per year.
There was no sign of slowing down for these lottery winners. In addition to schools, shopping, and vacations, Roger and Lara were also spending money on changes to their physical appearance. Lara thought it would be a good idea to get botox injections which cost around $350 per injection. Roger also spent a good portion of money on covering himself in tattoos. He even got Lara’s name inked forever on his body.
But Roger was not foolish enough to spend his entire win without coming up with ideas to make to millions grow. He came up with many business ideas one of them being to buy property. First he bought a beauty salon in northern England and thought he would make money on the rent and then he invested in another house as he thought the housing market was in good shape. Unfortunately for him it was 2007.
Bringing the band back
In addition to his property purchases, Roger decided to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a rockstar. Now he was the perfect candidate as he possessed the money and the tattoos and the rockstar lifestyle. He reunited his band from college and they went off to London to record an album. Roger put his band up in a ritzy hotel in London and paid a publicist to promote their band at a cost of $1,500 a month.
No one bought it
Although Roger put a lot of money and effort into getting his band off the ground, it was futile as the band’s album only sold 600 copies. Roger didn’t make back even a fraction of what he invested which was around $33,000. Even though the band was not a success, Lara was proud of her husband for trying and following through with his long time dream. So what was the family planning to do with their earnings next?
Losing it all
Well apparently nothing since most of their earnings had already been spent. According to experts, nearly 30% of people who win the lottery file for bankruptcy after only a couple years. These are not good odds. If they don’t lose it all, most winners cut themselves off from their friends and family in order to keep their money safe which often leads to depression and other similar issues. It seems that winning the lottery might not be so great after all.
Roger’s investment in the beauty salon initially seemed to be doing well and was giving them a steady income. However, after a while it was no longer profitable and was actually making them lose money. It turns out it was costing them around $5,000 a month. Instead of selling the salon or getting out, they decided to invest more into it as they thought it would eventually make them money.
As we mentioned before, Roger had bought a property in northern England in 2007 as a way to make money. As we all know, there was major financial devastation when the housing bubble burst in 2008. This crash also affected the housing market in the U.K. and that meant that Roger’s investment was affected to. The house’s value deprecated along with Lara and Roger’s lottery earnings. The family’s spending choices were about to come back to bite them.
Slowing down the spending?
It had only been four years since Roger and Lara won almost 2 and a half million in the British lottery but their bank account now only had $900,000 left. No longer millionaires, they understood that they could not continue spending money they way they had been or they risked losing everything. However, cutting back for Lara and Roger meant staying in slightly less expensive hotels and not spending as much on alcohol.
The loss of a loved one
As a result of their bad business investments and excessive spending, Lara and Roger were beginning to have issues with their marriage. Lara was working long hours in her beauty salon while her husband Roger stayed at home. On top of their financial issues, Lara’s father Stuart died from an illness in 2009. Lara was deeply saddened by her father’s death as he was only 71. Lara recalls that while things were already getting worse, the loss of her father was where it started to go downhill fast.
More money more problems
Nothing seemed to be going right for this family and it only got worse after the death of Lara’s father. In the winter of 2009 a fire erupted in Roger and Lara’s home which burnt down the house along with all of their possessions inside. They could obviously no longer live there and they rented another property at a cost of $160,000. When they thought things could not possibly get any worse, they did.
Addiction to money
At this point in the story, it is very clear that money cannot solve every problem. But now Lara and Roger were used to their lifestyle and they had become addicted to spending it. So when they started to run out of money, Roger went through a sort of withdrawal from his addiction. He became incredibly depressed and spent most of his day at home playing his guitar while his wife worked at her salon.
Roger was unfaithful
How could this story get any worse? Very easily. With so much pressure on their marriage, Lara was beginning to get suspicious of Roger. She discovered some emails on his computer between him and a female companion. When Lara confronted her husband about the emails he denied any wrongdoing but Lara did not believe him. Lara recalls,”I found a conversation between Roger and a male friend. My husband was asking for a woman’s telephone number and his friend seemed to be encouraging him. I went to pieces and phoned Roger for an explanation. He said, ‘who have you been talking to?’ and I said, ‘I’m reading your emails.’”
Lara continued, “Within ten minutes he was back home, he walked straight past me into his office, and started packing his bags. He was shouting at me, telling me I was an idiot and pathetic, then he just left. “I was hysterical. I tried calling him, but his phone was dead, and when I tried to contact him on Facebook he had blocked me. I don’t know if he was having an affair or not because he wouldn’t tell me. I still don’t know because he refuses to talk about it.”
Roger didn’t talk to Lara
Lara said of Roger’s actions, ”If he’d said to me ‘Look, I’m unhappy, I’m feeling unappreciated,’ we could have worked on it. I may have been horrible to him for a week, but I would have forgiven him for anything because I loved him. I don’t believe in divorce, family is everything to me. ‘An hour after leaving, he sent me a text saying he was ashamed of himself and then disappeared for three days. I didn’t know where he was, what he was doing or who he might be with.”
He wanted out
Roger did come back home, but it was not what Lara was expecting. “He said he wasn’t happy and hadn’t been happy for a while. He said he was glad I’d found the emails because it gave him the excuse he needed to leave me,” she continued “He’d just told me he wasn’t happy with me. There was no remorse or guilt. He didn’t say he loved me once. So no, in the circumstances, I wouldn’t let him stay,” They met again a week later and discussed about their relationship. “He accused me of being controlling and miserable,”
Leaving Lara alone
Lara claims that Roger did not want her to come home. She said Roger, “dreaded me coming home from work because ‘I changed the whole mood of the house.” “‘I’m not coming back. I don’t love you any more.” She described her situation saying, “he just walked out, leaving me to deal with the mess…I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she pulls the curtain away and discovers the world isn’t magical at all, and that the Wizard is just some stupid bloke.”
Couldn’t manage money
Lara recalled what her husband said before they became millionaires. “Roger always used to say he’d win the lottery one day and that it would be his pension fund, but when it actually happened it was a shock.” “Of course it was exciting, it’s what everyone dreams of, isn’t it? But looking back, that’s when all our worries started. We both come from good families, and are well-educated, but we weren’t wealthy and we had no idea how to manage such a large amount of money.”
The other side of the story
Roger, however, claims that Lara is not telling the truth. He alleged that it was Lara who drove them to lose their winnings when he said,”She liked handbags, she liked shopping. She spent a lot of time at Louis Vuitton.” He said of Lara’s breakdown,”She went absolutely ballistic. It was the catalyst for me to think ‘I really don’t want to be in this relationship any more.’ It crucifies me that I’m not with my daughters,” he revealed. “But if I’d stayed, I would have gone mad.”
Roger was unfaithful
Lara decided she could not take it anymore and their 14-year marriage ended. The lottery win was the catalyst to their demise and Lara decided to file for divorce and take her daughters to live with her. Roger was devastated along with the rest of their family. What had started out as such an exciting and happy moment in their lives ultimately ruined everything they had. And it was about to get worse for Roger.
Selling their possesions
The separated couple began selling off what remained of their assets, which was not much. They managed to sell the beauty salon at a much lower price than they had paid for it. They sold their properties and downsized to a much smaller house. They even had one of their properties repossessed before they could sell it as they were not able to afford the mortgage payments. But it did not end there.
Worse off than they were before
Roger and Lara actually took out loans to open up the salon which they remained in debt for. Lara said winning the lottery actually made her poorer than she was when she was a teacher and not a millionaire.” Most people end up worse off in some way, and no one has any sympathy because you won the money instead of earning it. I’m not even back to square one, I’m much worse off than before the win.”
Where are they now?
So where have these two ended up today? Roger is unemployed and having trouble finding a job in his field since he was out of the workforce for so many years traveling and spending money. He has had to sell off most of his belongings and lives in a small house. Roger does not have fond memories of his lottery win and remembers it as one of the worst days in his life. Poor Roger.
Thankfully, all is not lost as the two have found some happiness and are moving on from the whole ordeal. Lara posted a picture on Facebook of her being romantic with a younger man. Roger has moved on and is remarried to Samantha Major who works in cosmetics just like his last wife. They share a home in North Yorkshire. We are glad things are finally getting better for Lara and Roger.
Roger’s new bride Samantha seems to have a successful business with locations in Harrogate and Leeds that offer injections, HD brows, fillers, and semi-permanent makeup. Roger does not seem to regret the way he spent his winning saying, “I was living the millionaire’s lifestyle — everyone who wins the Lottery should do that,’ he said. ‘There’s no point entering otherwise.” So how does Lara feel about how the family spent their millions?
“Sometimes I scream out: “Where did this go wrong?” The dream is that winning the Lottery sets you up for life. In reality you win it, then you worry about losing it all.’ Lara also never expected her ex-husband to actually leave her. She said, “I didn’t know what to think. I was sure that any minute he’d turn up, bang the door down and say “Sorry, please forgive me”, but he didn’t, he just disappeared.”
While the lottery can have many positive effects on a winner’s life, it can also cause a lot of heartbreak and pain. Lottery winners are only human and when a person comes into a large amount of money, they will be tempted to spend it on nice new things or help out their friends and family. But while a new house or a new car can make you happy for a while, the stress of keeping up the lifestyle might eventually get to you.
Where does the money go?
So what about all of those people who buy lottery tickets and don’t win? Where does there money go? Well, a large portion goes to fund local governments. Some state lotteries use all of the earnings they make to fund public schools or other community projects. There are even some states where the lottery generates billions of dollars to go towards funding schools. So even if you don’t win your money may still be doing good for someone else.