For many of us, winning the lottery would be a dream. Seeing millions or even tens of millions of pounds paid into our bank accounts would help to alleviate the stresses and strains of life. The idea of being able to pay off our mortgage would be something that most of us would feel great about, to say nothing about the fact that we could buy the house of our dreams, go on amazing holidays and drive a gorgeous sports car around.
For some, the allure of newfound wealth often leads to extravagant and eccentric spending, creating stories that capture the imagination of people worldwide. There are some lottery winners who dare to think outside the box, taking a more eccentric route and splurging their cash on some of the most bizarre and extravagant purchases. They will buy the usual things, of course, but they also look to see what else getting a ton of money paid into their bank accounts can allow them to do. They opt for the conversation starters, the eccentric and the downright weird and we are very much here for it.
A Football Club
Winning the lottery presents you with the opportunity to do things that you could only have dreamt of before your numbers came up. For John McGuinness, the dream had always been to see his beloved football club, Livingston, enjoy success. As a result, when he won more than £10 million in 1996 it seemed the most obvious thing in the world to invest in his boyhood club, which he quickly bought for £4 million. He worked with the former director of Celtic, Dominic Keane, in order to buy the club and obviously trusted the judgment of the person with experience.
After taking Keane to court, McGuinness said, “I gave my money to Dominic Keane and now it’s all gone and I’ve got nothing. Someone must have taken it. If I had never met him, I’d still be sitting with about £5 million in the bank and I would have been quite happy enjoying a brilliant life.” The football club wasn’t the only thing that he bought, saying, “I had the Ferraris, the designer wardrobe and the luxury holidays. I had everything I had ever dreamed about and more.” But within a decade he’d lost it all to the point that he struggled to pay for his shopping. A cautionary tale if ever there was one.
Breast Enlargements for Sisters
There are many people in the world who aren’t comfortable with how they look. Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder and if you’re not liking what you see then it makes sense to do something about it, even if it’s a bit of a shame to have such little confidence in yourself. That was the case for Sarah Cockings and her sisters, which was why she decided to invest some of the £3 million that she won getting them all boob jobs. It cost her £10,000 to get the work done, having won the money when she was just 21-years-old. Her eldest sister, Emma, was 41, whilst Alex, her other sister, was 36.
Her parents got a slightly more suitable gift from her in the form of a new house, with a Mini Cooper and a Range Rover Sport also on her shopping list. The boob job didn’t do her marriage any favours, with Cockings and her husband, Roy, splitting a year after the win. Her sisters, meanwhile, were often stopped in the street and asked if they were the ‘lottery boobs’. Given all of the things that she could’ve bought, perhaps some new boobs to make her sisters feel better about what they look is amongst the nicest, even if a slightly weird thing to buy relatives.
Jobs as Ghost Hunters
It isn’t a ‘thing’, exactly, but when Laura Hoyle and Kirk Stevens won the National Lottery’s Set for Life game, which saw them paid £10,000 per month for 30 years, it presented them with an opportunity to follow their passion. Hoyle was the one that called up to check the numbers and could be heard saying that she just wanted to make sure they were winners before she quit her job. Stevens, meanwhile, paid for his Masters degree and they bought a house together. Yet it was what they chose to do with the rest of their time that helped them get onto our list.
The pair shared a passion for ghost hunting, so being so rich meant that they were able to head to the likes of the National Justice Museum in order to engage in some paranormal investigations. Quite how busy you can be looking for something that doesn’t exist is a question that only the two of them can answer, but winning £3.6 million isn’t something to be sniffed at and a wage of £10,000 per month is more than enough to mean that they can be relaxed about bills. Whether they ever found any ghosts isn’t clear, apart from the fact that ghosts aren’t real.
Drinking whiskey doesn’t have to be a rich man’s game. There are some perfectly delightful bottles of the stuff available for relatively cheap. That being said, if you’ve got some money then it does give you access to some higher quality stuff. In 1996, Peter Lavery was working as a bus driver when he won the lottery, seeing more than £10 million paid into his bank account as a result. He did all of the usual things, buying himself a new house and an expensive car, but he also had his eye on something that would allow him to enjoy some whiskey whenever he fancied.
The result was that he chose to get involved in the whiskey business by creating his own blended Irish whiskey called Danny Boy, which was a blend of four and five-year-old grain and malted barley. Cooley Distillery in County Louth had won the ‘World Distiller of the Year’ award in 2008, so it seemed an obvious place for Lavery to make his own whiskey. The Danny Boy brand, meanwhile, had been set up a decade earlier, so he felt as though he was getting in on a good thing. The story wasn’t quite the success he hoped, but he never gave up the dream of making his own whiskey.
There is something about a waterpark that is great fun but also a touch frustrating. Having been in the water, you can cool down pretty quickly whilst you’re having to queue up to go on the next slide. That is to say nothing of the lazy river being a little bit too lazy, forcing you to be a bit more engaged in the swimming than is the point of it all. Perhaps they were some of the reasons why John Kutey decided to buy himself a waterpark after winning a share of $319 million on the Mega Millions, alongside other members of a syndicate based in New York City.
He and his wife Linda took home $28.7 million, moving to Florida as a result and donating a quarter of a million dollars in order to help set up a new water park. Located at Maine Street Park, Green Island, it was opened in honour of their parents. It all started when the pair went to a town hall meeting and asked what they could do to help, with a local wading pool demolished to make way for the waterpark. It was done in partnership with Albany Engineering Corporation and Grimm Building Materials, meaning that there was no money whatsoever paid by the local taxpayers.
A TV Show
Andy Warhol once said that everyone would enjoy ’15 minutes of fame’, but when Jonathan Vargas won $30 million on the S.C. Education Lottery Powerball Jackpot, he decided to try to extend that a wee bit. He was the youngest-ever lottery winner at the time, being a mere 19-years-old when he won. That meant that he wasn’t even old enough to celebrate with Champagne legally, but what he could do was set up his own TV show. Having opted for the lump sum of around £14 million rather than getting the full amount in regular payments, he made himself into something of a Hugh Hefner figure.
A fan of WWE, Vargas, or JV Rich as he styled himself, set up a show called Wrestlicious Takedown. He even rapped one of the verses of a song for the show, saying, “I’m JV Rich and I own the show, I got the ring, I got the bling, I got the dough. I have with the ladies that nobody disses, cause all my girls are Wrestlicious.” There were 13 episodes of the first season, but the show never graced our televisions again after being widely panned by reviewers. Money can buy you many things, it seems, but taste isn’t one of them and Vargas removed himself from the spotlight not long after.
A Petting Zoo
There is something adorable about some animals, with the likes of puppies, ducklings and other small creatures melting the hearts of most. Perhaps that’s what Britain’s youngest-ever winner of the EuroMillions was thinking about when he decided to use some of his £45 million prize to buy his mother-in-law a petting zoo. Matt Topham was just 23-years-old when he came into the money, delighting his wife Cassey’s mum, Jane, with the gift. Rushmoor Country Farm Park in the Louth area of Lincolnshire was soon populated with the likes of horses, pigs and ducks.
The couple also managed to build a falconry centre, which not only had falcons but also the likes of sea eagles and barn owls. The former painter and decorator also decided to use his new-found wealth to train as a helicopter pilot and a racing driver. He and his wife also moved out of their £89,950 ex-council house into an eco home that they built on the land of a £1.2 million mansion that they demolished. It is the petting zoo that caught the headlines, but the pair also bought houses and homes for family and friends, as well as holidays to keep every happy.
A couple from Wallasey in Merseyside won £2,438,155 on the National Lottery’s Lotto game in July of 2007. Tony Dodd was 64 at the time, so decided that one of the best things that he could spend his money on would be some new knees for him and his wife, Greta. Tony had had to give up playing golf, one of his passions, because of how bad his knees had gotten, given the fact that he could hardly walk. Having met 46 years earlier when in the Royal Navy Reserve, the pair lived happily together and got new knees at the same time.
Tony himself had worked as a stand-up comedian for a few years, as well as a children’s entertainer. He ran a burglar alarm company and was working as a taxi driver in the days before the lottery win. Greta said, “Winning the Lotto has been a wonderful experience and the new knees will help us enjoy it even more.” As well as the new knees, the pair also bought a new house and Tony planned to re-join his golf club after having allowed his membership to lapse. A lottery spokesperson said, “We’ve had our jackpot winners buy all sorts of wonderful things with their winnings but I think this is the first time we had winners buy themselves new knees!”