What Do Lottery Winners Do with Their Money?

What would you do if you won the lottery? Would you buy a new house, a new car, travel around the world, give money to charity? If you won a huge jackpot playing EuroMillions for example, you would be able to afford all of those things and still have money left over.


When we hear stories of ordinary people who turn their lives around after coming into a big lottery fortune, we wonder if we will get lucky as well. We wonder “What do lottery winners do with their money” because we fantasize that one day we will be in a similar situation and need to make such momentous decisions ourselves. We realize, however, that winning the lottery is a matter of luck. Still, it never hurts to dream!

Let’s take a look at what some newly created millionaires have done with their lottery winnings and see if we can plan ahead for the day when our dreams will come true.

How Do Lottery Winners Spend Their Money?

In November 2019, Camelot, operators of the National Lottery in the UK, gathered lottery winners from the previous 25 years to hear their astonishing stories and to learn what they had done with the millions they won in prize money.

As expected, many of the lottery winners spent their money on new homes, new cars, and fabulous vacations. Here are examples of what some of the lucky winners did:

Deana Sampson, from Sheffield, South Yorks, won £5,439,681 in 1996 and “bought [her] parents a bungalow and took 22 family members on a luxury holiday to Jamaica.” She spent £800,000 on a yacht on her 40th birthday.

Cheryl Brudenell from Stockton-on-Tees won £916,915 in 1997. “The Lottery win has allowed me to indulge in my passion for Robbie Williams, but I’ve never totted up how much it has cost to see him around 40 times in concert, in places as far flung as Barcelona, Vegas, Berlin and Belgium.”

how do lottery winners spend their money

Ray Wragg, from Sheffield, won £7,649,520 in 2000 and was very charitable with his winnings. “We bought a Range Rover and filled it with Easter Eggs for the local kids from a school in Sheffield and paid for them to have a holiday at a farm,” he said.

Tom Naylor, from Wheaton Aston, Staffs, who won £15,528,286 in 2001, bought two Aston Martins, three Jaguars, a Ford Mustang, and a Land Rover Discovery. He said his “biggest extravagance was flying nine family members to New York via Concorde. It cost £25,000 and when we saw three giant white stretch limos waiting for us outside the airport, it was an incredible moment.”

Many lottery winners spent their prize money on travel. Ben Woods, from Liverpool, who won £2,485,736 in 2004, said "The money has paid for 12 trips to New York and holidays for my mum and dad.” Geoffrey Bennette, who won £3,530,707 in 2011, has explored South Africa, Scandinavia, India, New Zealand, and Australia, mostly by train.

Libby Elliot, from Aberdeenshire, who won £2,159,664 in 2012, has gone “on dream trips, from Jerusalem to Route 66 to Buenos Aires.” Dione Buss, from Somerset, who won £1,888,630 in 2013, went to see the Great Wall of China. “Other goosebump moments are our incredible worldwide travel adventures,” she said.

Andy Carter, a Senior Winners' Adviser at Camelot, said in 2016: “We find it takes six to nine months for winners to adapt to their new life. There are both emotional and practical adjustments to be made before they truly relax into a millionaire lifestyle and there is no set rule book to follow.”


Lottery Winners Use Their Prizes to Make Investments

Some of the information gathered by Camelot at its 2019 gathering of lottery winners contradicts its own findings in a 2012 study. At the time, Camelot checked the more than 3,000 millionaires it had created (a number that is now over 6,000) and found that the most popular use of lottery money was property investments. The second most popular use of the money was making investments to provide future income, while the third most popular use was to ensure financial security for children. Further down on the list, lottery winners spent their winnings on luxury cars, gifts to family and friends, holidays, and paying off debts and mortgages.

What lottery winners do with their money

This study also highlighted just how much winners spend on their friends and family. It was found that the winners handed over roughly $1.8 billion and paid off 3,700 mortgages for their loved ones. It’s a known fact that everyone, including parents, siblings, friends, neighbours, co-workers, charities, and strangers, will feel entitled to a piece of the prize, which can potentially cause conflict, end up in estrangement, divorce, bankruptcy, and even murder.

Statistics aside, some of the most fascinating stories are those that tell us what the biggest lottery winners did with their money following their big jackpot wins.

Biggest Jackpot Winners Spend Money on Luxuries

Below are two examples of winners who spent their money on the typical luxuries that people who come into a windfall of cash are known to purchase.

John and Lisa Robinson of Tennessee, who shared the record $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot with two other winning ticket holders in January 2016, originally stated that they planned to remain in their one-story house, pay off their mortgage, and cover their daughter's student loans. Yet six months later it was revealed that they had purchased a 10-bedroom home with stunning rural views overlooking a private lake. The house apparently has a private home theatre and eight bathrooms.

Colin and Chris Weir, winners of Britain's biggest ever lottery prize after they claimed a £161m EuroMillions jackpot in July 2011, purchased an £850,000 mansion in the town of Largs in North Ayrshire, Scotland. They made lavish improvements to the property including installing a luxury indoor swimming pool, spa pool, Jacuzzi, Roman-style ornamental statues, and a greenhouse.

What colin and chris weir did with their lottery money

Some four years later, the Weirs sold their Largs mansion and upgraded to an estate called Frognal House in Troon for more than £3 million. Over the years, the Weirs have made generous contributions to the National Theatre of Scotland and the Scottish National Party.

Jackpot Winners Who Shared Their Wealth

Many lottery winners who invest their money wisely and choose to spend their winnings on good causes and charities. Here’s a list of honourable winners who won big and gave back!

lottery winners who gave back

Bob Erb from Canada won a $25 million Lotto Max jackpot in 2012 and donated a good proportion of his winnings, an estimated $8 million, to charitable causes. One of the causes he supported calls for the legalization of marijuana.

Rick Cockrum won an amazing $259 million Powerball prize in 2014! As a former actor and stage manager, he decided to start a foundation to support performing arts projects in not-for-profit professional theatres all across the US. He also made a donation to Doctors Without Borders during the Ebola Crisis and to the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Tom Crist, who won a Lotto Max draw in 2013, decided to donate the ENTIRE jackpot prize of $40 million to charity. The generous Canadian went on to start a foundation and made his first donation to the Calgary Cancer Center, who treated his late wife for cancer. He then went on to continuously donate to charities close to his and his family’s heart including Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Calgary Zoo and many more.

László Andraschek, a formerly homeless alcoholic from Hungary, changed his life and many others when he won a huge jackpot prize of FT630 million from a lottery ticket he purchased on his way to a workshop for recovering alcoholics. In order to bring awareness to Hungary’s fast-growing homeless population, László has since pledged a majority of his winnings to a foundation he has set up for addicts and abused women, along with a generous donation to a hostel for the homeless.


Weird Things Lottery Winners Bought with Their Winnings

Not all lottery winners spend their prizes on new houses and vacations, or even on charitable causes. Some of them made purchases that seem a bit weird!

Jay Vargas from South Carolina become one of the youngest lottery winners ever in the United States when he scooped up a $35.3 million Powerball prize in May, 2008. He used his money to create a female wrestling television show called Wrestlicious TakeDown. That show shows that there is a link between the lottery and television. Still, the show went off the air after one season.

lottery winners spend their money

David Copeland won £1 million from the UK Lottery in 2000 and decided to think ahead and invest in the future by purchasing an acre of land on the moon, in addition to deeds for land on Venus and Mars. With technology constantly advancing, we're not sure that Copeland's otherworldly real estate purchase is as crazy as it may sound!

John and Linda Kutey won a $28.7 million share of a Mega Millions jackpot in 2011 and used some of their money to build a water spray park in honour of their parents.

Irish Winner Peter Lavery wisely decided to invest a majority of his €10 million in over 30 properties throughout Northern Ireland, most of which he rents out. One of his more interesting real estate purchases was an abandoned prison in Belfast. Lavery made a tribute to his heritage by investing €5 million of his winnings into turning a decrepit jail into a boutique whiskey distillery, which will include a visitors centre, tasting room, bar, restaurant, and shop.

Tony and Greta Dodd were ecstatic when they won their €2 million lottery prize and knew exactly how they were going to spend it. The senior couple decided to treat themselves to joint knee replacements!

Do Lottery Winners Spend Their Winnings Wisely?

Do Lottery Winners Spend Their Winnings Wisely?

According to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, nearly a third of lottery winners declare bankruptcy after their win. The National Endowment for Financial Education says that about 70 percent of those who come into a sudden windfall of cash, including lottery winners, go broke within a few years. A study on Florida winners contributed to this fact when it showed that winners who won large sums filed for bankruptcy at a faster rate than winners who were awarded much smaller sums.

On the other hand, two Swedish studies conducted in 2016 and 2017 revealed that winners awarded large prizes were able to gradually spend and sustain their wealth for well over a decade. They managed to do this by investing their winnings in low-risk, low-return bonds, which results in a steady income that can last a lifetime, and sometimes even be passed onto future generations.

The polar opposite results of the Swedish studies compared to studies from other countries, such as the US or UK, may indicate that the spending habits in different cultures is what makes or breaks the bank for big winners.

Lottery Winners Who Lost It All

Tales of lottery winners who lost everything because of their wild spending habits and bad investments will always fascinate and intrigue the public. Here are some winners who won the jackpot and ended up losing it all due to some very bad financial decisions.

Michael Carroll won £9,736,131 on the National Lottery in November 2002 when he was only 19 years old. The lottery win gave him celebrity status but after many run-ins with the law and spending his fortune on new homes, drugs, parties, and cars, he was reportedly almost broke five years after his big win. Michael's tale is quite the lottery winner horror story!

Ronnie Music Jr. from Georgia invested part of the $3 million he won in the lottery in 2015 to deal drugs. In 2017, Music was convicted of financing methamphetamine trafficking, owning illegal firearms and thousands of round of ammunition, and now faces 21 years in federal prison.

Jack Whittacker Jr. was already rich when he won a $314.9 million Powerball jackpot in 2002. In the tragic aftermath of his win, thieves stole huge amounts of cash from his car; his house was robbed; a teenager was found dead of an overdose in his home; his granddaughter was found dead; he was sued by an Atlantic City casino for bounced checks; and his house burned down.

John McGuiness lost his £10 million lottery fortune when he decided to join the board of Scotland’s Livingston Football Club. Unbeknownst to him, the decision to pour almost a third of his prize winnings into the club would be his downfall, as he would have to use all his winnings, and more, to pay off the club’s numerous loans without getting back anything in return. Mounting legal fees forced McGuiness to sell his mansion, luxury cars, and his family’s personal possessions to help pay back the £2.1 million debt he owed the Royal Bank of Scotland.

What Our Winners Did with Their Winnings

Here at theLotter, some of our lucky players have informed us what they planned to do with their lottery winnings. Nataliia who won $1 million playing Mega Millions online said she would use some of her winnings to pay off three mortgages.

Russian player S. K. said his €824,000 Austria Lotto jackpot would be used to purchase apartments for his kids, a country house for himself, and a new car. S.K. also expressed his charitable side when said he would donate funds to help a young boy suffering from cancer.

H. from El Salvador said his $1 million prize playing US Powerball would change his life for the better, freeing him of debts and money problems. H. said he also planned to travel with his prize money.

And this is just a partial list!

What Will You Do When You Win the Lottery?

Most people never expect to win, so figuring out how to navigate the complexities of winning the lottery can be daunting. Many lottery winners wisely consult with attorneys, accountants, and financial planners before spending one cent of their winnings. These winners typically make sound investments, donate generously to good charitable causes, and use their prize money to ensure the financial security of their families. In the UK, Camelot regularly sends financial advisors to lottery winners to help them deal with the risks and rewards involved in their winnings.

What Will You Do When You Win the Lottery?

If the day comes and you become a big lottery winner, you will need to seriously consider your financial future. Hopefully learning what lottery winners do with their money, some of it good and some of it bad, will help you make wise decisions. Good luck playing the lottery and good luck spending your lottery winnings! Now that you know how winners spend it, check out how far people would go to win millions - you might be surprised!