What it’s REALLY like to win the lottery… from a couple who banked £2.2 million

Almost thirty years ago my husband won £1,500 in the National Lottery, not long after it first started.

When Colin* went into his local post office to claim his winnings, the man behind the counter told him that people who win a small amount of money on the lottery often win again.

‘That’s right! He was wrong,’ we often joked together in the years that followed. Because although Colin played every week, there was no such victory.

But one Wednesday evening in February 2012, around the time the lottery results were being televised, Colin stayed up to check his numbers in the draw.

I had just gone to bed and – not sure why – decided to pray that we would win.

Life-changing: A lottery-winning couple – who scooped £2.2million in February 2012 – have chosen to spend a large chunk of their winnings on cruises and travel

The previous year had been a tough one for both of us. My brother had died in November, making me six, while Colin, then 51, had fallen from a ladder. His skull was fractured in two places, he broke three ribs and he broke a bone in his hand.

He no longer had a job as a self-employed gardener and with me working as a part-time receptionist, we started to feel the pressure.

I’ll never forget Colin coming into the bedroom and saying, almost in a whisper, “I think I’ve won the lottery.”

Colin thought he had matched five numbers (it took six to win the jackpot) and estimated he had won around £50,000.

We tried to call Camelot, operator of the National Lottery at the time, but they could not verify our ticket until the next morning.

Thus began one of the longest nights of my husband’s life. As I snored my head off, Colin tells me he was awake most of the night.

He went to bed thinking he might have won £50,000 – the same amount as the mortgage remaining on our three-bedroom house in the Midlands.

But when Colin called Camelot early in the morning, he started crying. Through tears he told me: ‘We have won £2.2 million.’

And then my tears started to fall. Tears of unbridled joy. Our lives were about to change forever.

It only started to dawn on me when one of Camelot’s Winners Advisors came to see us that same day to verify our ticket. The money was in our account within a week. It was incredible to see our balance sheet with so many zeros.

I immediately quit my job as a receptionist, but Colin returned to work for three years.

Memories: The winning couple has moved away from material things in recent years and opted to travel more, completing 21 cruises, including two world cruises

Memories: The winning couple has moved away from material things in recent years and opted to travel more, completing 21 cruises, including two world cruises

He couldn’t quite fathom not having to work anymore. And I suppose it took us that long to fully adapt to our new-found wealth. That’s not surprising, since we suddenly found ourselves in a world where we didn’t have to worry about the size of our gas bill.

I had young grandchildren at the time of the win, and anyone with a young child knows there’s no way to stop them from saying certain things, so that’s why we went public in the first place. Nowadays we try to keep it hidden as much as possible; some people can be quite unfriendly.

The first thing we did after paying off our mortgage was go to a car showroom. We were immediately recognized by a family friend who worked there and knew about our windfall. We quickly realized that there was no hope of getting a discounted price on a car.

Colin could have bought any car he wanted. But my husband opted for a £35,000 Mercedes-Benz Estate.

He has since bought two Range Rovers and a Jaguar F-type. I also owned a Mercedes-Benz B-Class.

He has since retired his luxury car collection, although he always wanted a Bentley. He now has a Lexus RX and I drive a Volkswagen Polo.

We have set up a double garage for the cars. It made us £20,000, but we wanted to hide this when people came to quote us for jobs.

We also hide the photo collage in our kitchen of us receiving the comically large check at a nearby luxury hotel, because employees might raise the price of jobs if they saw this on our wall.

Some neighbors were happy for us. Colin says that after the win he walked into our local shop and found it full of our photos. Colin loved it, but I didn’t set foot in that store again for years; I was too ashamed.

The friends we already know before the victory behave normally around us, but when we tell people that we just met, they look at us as if we have two heads.

Wheels: The couple first spent £35,000 on a Mercedes-Benz Estate.  Since then they have bought two Range Rovers, a Jaguar F-type and a Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Wheels: The couple first spent £35,000 on a Mercedes-Benz Estate. Since then they have bought two Range Rovers, a Jaguar F-type and a Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Allwyn, who now runs the National Lottery, arranges volunteer work with other winners.

The group signs up to do volunteer work, such as visiting nursing homes and renewing the gardens in arboretums. You have to give something back when you’ve been so lucky, right? We find it refreshing to meet people who are in the same situation as us.

It’s great because you can show off a bit without feeling guilty, so I don’t have to hide the new bags I buy. Colin has bought me two Mulberry handbags over the years.

We are friends with some of the other winners – a couple of us went out to dinner and a small group of us went to the funeral of a fellow lottery winner.

The first time I went into Selfridges in Birmingham after the windfall, I tried on a £300 cream and black satin dress. I couldn’t justify spending that much on a dress for myself – but then I remembered could.

The most luxurious purchase we’ve made is our almost identical Oyster Perpetual Rolexes, which set us back just under £20,000.

Colin had always wanted one, so we visited Goldsmiths in Birmingham to pick out his dream watch. The jeweler asked if I wanted to buy one too, so I walked out with an £11,000 watch. We hid them on our journey home.

In recent years we have distanced ourselves from material things and have chosen to travel more. Before we won, we took one cruise a year that required us to save all year round.

Since winning, we have completed 21 cruises, including two world cruises – a third booked for January 2025.

We had a cruise to the Caribbean planned for the month after we won.

My husband says that when he got on the ship, he felt a rush of emotions: we were on the same cruise the year before and just a year later he was there as a millionaire.

Although we didn’t visit the Maldives on a cruise, our visit there was the best trip we ever took. We loved the resort so much that we went there twice in the same year.

Public Service: The winning couple gives back to our community by picking up trash (file photo)

Public Service: The winning couple gives back to our community by picking up trash (file photo)

The staff remembered us and couldn’t do enough for us. My husband remembers an embarrassing moment the second time we were there.

The villa we stayed in had a great unobstructed view of the sea. The undergrowth was somewhat overgrown, so that he could not quite see the sea as he lay in bed.

Colin casually mentioned it to a worker passing by – and they cleared the vegetation within five minutes. We were terrified.

We’ve only flown first class once after another lottery winner convinced us to take the plunge. But we never did it again because my husband says he can’t justify the price increase between business and first class.

Although we enjoyed our wealth, we did not keep it all to ourselves.

Over the years, Colin has bought houses for my two daughters from a previous marriage, donated a defibrillator to my grandson’s special education school, and we have bought flowers for volunteers at the local cancer center.

We don’t feel rich enough to give away thousands of pounds at a time – the money would run out quickly – but we sponsor people and donate to charities here and there.

We give back to our community by picking up litter, although we joke that people wouldn’t realize we’d won the lottery if they saw us on the street with crisp packets and drink bottles.

We now live in a four-bedroom detached house with electric gates, close to our old house.

We almost opted for an even grander property, but thank goodness we didn’t; we would never have been able to pay for the maintenance.

We moved a year after our win and it cost us £500,000, but my husband says he wouldn’t be surprised if the value was now closer to £1 million. We are quite proud of it and the giant check hangs on our bedroom wall.

However, a downsizing is looming for the future. We have three and a half bathrooms and we don’t use them all. My husband tells me that every few months he goes into the unused bathroom to flush the toilet!

Although £2.2 million is a life-changing amount, it is not permanent. It is not enough that we can spend, spend, spend without restraint.

And we have watched our once handsome pot slowly shrink. Balancing expenses is incredibly difficult. Colin is thirteen years younger than me, so we need to make sure there is enough to enjoy a comfortable life for the next twenty years.

The Lottery has given us a wonderful life. Apart from having children, this is the best thing that can happen to anyone.

For anyone wondering if money buys happiness, that’s absolutely true.


*Names have been changed.

  • Has a lottery win changed your life? Tell us your story: l.evans@dailymail.co.uk

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