Ever dreamed of winning the lottery? The saying goes that you never miss what you’ve never had. But how much worse must it feel for lottery winners who suddenly find the have riches beyond their wildest dreams, only to lose it within a matter of years. In this article, we’ll look at cases where this has happened, and what mistakes they made.


Lottery Winners Who Lost It All


The biggest, and probably most cruel disaster stories are those where the winner of a winning lottery jackpot ticket lose the ticket.

Lost Lottery Ticket

What’s worse than not having the winning lottery ticket? Having it, but being unable to find it.

Martyn and Kay Tott

One such case reported in the UK was the couple Martyn and Kay Tott who lost a lottery ticket. When the £3million unclaimed prize was broadcast on TV to try to find the winner they recognised their numbers matching the winning line. The couple, from Watford in Hertfordshire in England, searched their flat for the missing ticket, but failed to discover it. Camelot, the operators of the National Lottery in the UK are reported to have investigated the Tott’s claim and considered it genuine, but in another cruel twist they were unable to pay out as there is a 30 day limit on reporting missing tickets.


Despite not finding the ticket, Mr Tott was able to tell Camelot the precise time he purchased the ticket from a Londis store in Watford. This is what enabled the National Lottery operator to determine theirs was the winning ticket – in contrast to 115 other spurious claims made. Camelot were able to confirm from their database records that the Totts had purchased their tickets from the same terminal for five weeks using the same set of numbers. Despite the operator referring the case to the National Lottery Commission to see if the 30 day lost ticket reporting rule could be overlooked the rules were upheld and no payout was permitted.

Was the whole thing worth it?

The couple reported how stressful they had found the whole situation. For the seven weeks of the investigations they had thought they would get paid the winning jackpot. Mr Tott had dreamed of leaving his job, purchasing a big house to enable them to start a family, and buying a Porsche. No more payday loans or worries about paying the rent – a life of luxury. It was not to be.


The lesson from this sad case is that whilst only a piece of paper costing £2 a line to buy, your lottery ticket could be worth millions. Take care of it and keep it safe. Perhaps even better you can now place your lottery entries online with an irrefutable electronic confirmation of your entries.

As they say on the TV adverts for the National Lottery, you’ve got to be in it to win it. They forget to mention you need proof that you were in it.

Spending Spree

Viv Nicholson

Examples of lottery winners wasting big jackpot winnings give us a clue to what can go wrong. “Spend, spend, spend” said Viv Nicholson when her husband won a jackpot of £152,319 (worth over £3 million now) on the football pools in 1961, 33 years before the National Lottery was launched. Nicholson went on to live a tragic life, losing her husband in a car crash in 1965. By 1968 the she finally inherited the 20% remaining of the winnings from her husband’s estate. She soon lost what was left through more out of control spending, payment of taxes, legal fees, unpaid bills, and bad investments.

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Was she back to a life of borrowing money to survive? Nicholson admitted in later life that the wealth had driven away family and friends, partly due to he alcoholism which had developed after the big win.

Michael Carroll

A more recent example of a jackpot winner losing all their winnings is Michael Carroll who won a £9.7 million National Lottery jackpot in 2002. Carroll claims that he lost his fortune spending on holidays, gifts to family and friends, cars, flashy jewellery, drugs and booze. 10 years later all his money had gone, and at the age of 29 he was penniless.

His lifestyle showed some similarities to the “spend, spend, spend” story of Viv Nicholson. Michael Carroll lost his fortune in a similar way, and over a similar timespan, as she did. He blew his money in a haze of drugs and alcohol in an addiction of spending. He bought nearly 50 cars in the 10 years, a new car roughly every 3 month if taken as an average over the 10 years. Carroll claims that he spent over half a million pounds on the cars, and the same amount of over 100 holidays to Spain.


Other Lottery Winners


What unites these two examples of people who lost a fortune is that they lost their fortunes in an uncontrolled spending spree. They lost control of their lives. Other examples of National Lottery millionaires who have lost their fortunes were given in the Daily Express . The other examples looked at didn’t lose their fortunes in quite the same way. They didn’t necessarily go on booze fuelled spending sprees wasting money on cars and holidays. However, the similarities are there.

Other lottery winners who have lost their fortunes did so by making bad investments. They risked too much of their wealth on unwise or unsafe investments, hoping to follow their dreams, without regard for careful financial planning. One day, you might win the lottery like the people in this blog post. If you do, make sure not to make the same mistakes…or you could end up needing online loans to get by!


Kelly Richards is the founder of the Cashfloat blog and has been working tirelessly to produce interesting and informative articles for UK consumers since the blog’s creation. Kelly’s passion is travelling. She loves her job because she can do it from anywhere in the world! Whether inspiration hits her while sitting on the balcony of a French B&B, or whether she is struck with an idea in a roadside cafe in Moscow, she will always make sure that the idea comes to fruition. Kelly’s insights come from her knowledge gained while completing her degree in Economics and Finance as well as from the people she meets around the world. Her motto is: Everyone you meet has something valuable to teach you, so meet as many people as you can!