First Thing I'd Buy if I Won the Lottery | First Thing Past Winners Bought
A new luxury car, or six. A new home with 14 bedrooms, 16 bathrooms, a home cinema, and an outdoor pizza oven. And finally, a trip to Rome to look at all the old architecture and explore Vatican City while staying in a luxurious five-star boutique hotel. These are just a few things that came up when we asked a simple question—what is the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?
Many of us dream about winning the lottery and generally already have a substantial amount of our winnings spent in our minds long before we even claim our prize. However, sometimes what we dream about spending our money on and what we actually spend it on are two different things. In this article, we will look at ten of the first things past winners bought after claiming their winnings and see if they stuck to the predictable purchases or went all-out crazy with their newfound fortunes.
Anyone for a Swim?
John Kutey, who won his share of $28.7 million from a US$319 million Mega Millions jackpot in 2011, shocked many with the first purchase he made with his winnings. Rather than buying something predictable like a car or house, John did something entirely unexpected and built a water park. Yes, you read that correctly, a water park.
John and his wife, Linda, donated $200,000 of their vast winnings to help complete the construction of Spray Park in Green Island, New York. When asked about the motives behind such a strange purchase, John stated that the park was in honour of the couple’s parents and that they wanted to give something back to their community.
Fighting for Some (Pot) Freedom
The circumstances behind Bob Erb's Canada Lotto Max win may sound strange to many, as Bob purchased his winning ticket on the way to his father’s funeral. Days later, he realised that the ticket had won him CA$25 million—and he knew exactly what he wanted to spend the money on.
Shortly after receiving his winnings, Bob donated $1 million toward the legalisation of marijuana. As a self-proclaimed proud pothead, Bob wanted to help reform laws regarding the use of the drug in Canada and chose to do so using his new fortune. In addition to this, Bob also gave away a generous amount to charities and homeless shelters.
Lights? Camera? Action!
You may have heard the name Jonathan Vargas in the past. Jonathan was only 19 years old when he won US$35.3 million in a 2008 US Powerball draw. Most 19-year-olds would probably head over to the nearest car dealership and splurge on the latest models with the biggest engines. Not Jonathan, however.
Instead, Jonathan decided to start his own TV show entitled Wrestlicious TakeDown that featured half-dressed women who enacted sketch comedy whilst wrestling. Needless to say, the show only lasted one season before it was cancelled, and Jonathan realised that he had spent money he could never get back.
Buy, Buy, Bust
UK Lotto winners Lara and Roger Griffiths had always dreamed about having a luxury home with space to accommodate all their friends and family. Winning £1.8 million in 2006 made this dream possible, and the couple quickly scooped up their dream home for a cost of £670,000. In addition to this, the couple bought a Porsche and two other properties to rent out.
It is easy to think that Lara and Roger knew what they were doing. After all, aside from all their purchases, they also invested some of their winnings into the stock market. Unfortunately, it appears that they spent too much too quickly. Only six years after claiming their fortune, the couple had lost every cent of their winnings and had nothing to show for their efforts.
We Won’t Buy It—Sold
When John and Lisa Robinson came forward with one of the three winning tickets to the history-making US$1.6 billion Powerball jackpot in 2016, no one begrudged them any purchase that they were going to make. However, more shocking than the staggering amount of money the couple won was their humble attitude. When asked what they would spend their winnings on, the couple replied that they would remain in their simple one-story house and simply use the money to pay their mortgage and their daughter’s student loans.
We should have all known that it was too good to be true because only six months later the couple’s actions painted a wholly different picture. They purchased a massive 10-bedroom house that included eight bathrooms and a private home theatre. If this wasn’t enough, the home also had views overlooking a large private lake.
The Mansion on the Hill
When thinking of mansions, we often think of the house at the end of the lane that is slightly higher on the hill than any other. This is precisely the type of house that EuroMillions jackpot winners Colin and Chris Weir purchased with their £161 million winnings. The house on its own cost the couple a staggering £850,000.
However, this mansion was not enough for the couple. Instead, they also made significant renovations that included an indoor swimming pool, Roman-themed statues, a large greenhouse, and a jacuzzi. These renovations were clearly not enough though, as the couple sold their mansion four years later and moved to an even bigger estate.
An Unusually Large Gift
Sarah Cockings was only 21 years old and studying to be a social worker in university when she won part of a UK Lotto jackpot and took home £3.04 million. As a generous young adult, Sarah immediately set out to make her first purchases and ended up buying her parents a house and a few cars to go with it. In addition to this, she also sent her parents on a few luxury vacations.
However, the biggest (or rather, most unusual) purchase that Sarah made was a gift that she bought for each of her two sisters, Alex and Emma. Rather than usual things such as cars or electronics, Sarah gifted both of her sisters the type of gift that just keeps on giving: breast enlargement surgery. This gift will, undoubtedly, go down in history as one of the strangest gifts given by a lottery player.
Evelyn Adams made news back in 1985 and 1986 by winning the New Jersey Lottery both years. However, while she managed to claim over US$5.4 million between her two wins, things did not pan out the way that anyone expected.
Unbeknownst to anybody at the time, Evelyn had a rather severe gambling addiction that she had even before she won—when she was still employed as a clerk in a convenience store. The $218,000 that Evelyn received from her winnings each year after opting for annuity payments barely lasted, and she soon gambled all her winnings away. It must be said, however, that during her reckless spending, she did at least thing to save some money to pay for her daughter’s schooling.
A Long-Lasting Pair of Shoes
In 1996, Deana Sampson—who had only £3.60 in her bank account—was lucky enough to win £5.4 million from the UK National Lottery. Unlike other lottery winners who would have probably had a field day at the stores, the first purchase that Deana made with her winnings was a simple pair of sneakers.
When asked about her purchase, Deana stated that even after her winnings, she would continue to keep her feet on the ground and working hard—just in better shoes. She used the rest of her winnings to make investments in property and has grown her wealth so that she and her family can enjoy it for the long run.
A Ticket Out of Here
Nigel Willetts was shocked when he won £1 million from EuroMillions in 2014. In fact, if it hadn’t been for accidentally pulling a £20 bill out of his pocket rather than a £10, Nigel would not have even won. Regardless, he decided to spend his winnings on something that is probably high on most of our wish lists—vacationing around the world.
Nigel announced that he will be using his winnings to see the world and would be flying around to see all the places that he had always dreamed of visiting. He started this adventure off by flying himself and 13 family members to a lavish vacation in Florida.
Knowing what you want to buy first when winning the lottery and what you actually buy may be two entirely different things. Thankfully, we have a history of lottery winners that have come before us and purchased a variety of weird and wonderful things. Some of these items are so strange that we will never have to worry about being different—even if we decide to purchase a pony, paint it pink, and call it a unicorn.