First-Time Lottery Players Who Won the Jackpot
Most of us have played the lottery several times, and despite having our fingers crossed for big wins, we tend to accept our losses before we even know for certain. For those playing the lottery for the first time, the experience always seems to be one filled with hope. After all, someone’s gotta win, right? For these first-time lottery players who won the jackpot, luck was definitely on their side.
18-Year-Old Lotto Max Winner Alyssa Caetano
In January 2020, Alyssa Caetano from Brampton, Ontario was your typical teenager. Having turned 18 just a few months prior and graduated from high school the year prior, she was wondering what she'd do with the rest of her life. One day on a whim she decided to buy two Lotto Max selections—one for $5 and the other for $30—to take her chance at winning the record-breaking $70 million jackpot. Well, what happened is she ended up winning secondary prizes worth $197,724 in total—$197,680 on the first ticket and $44 on the second.
The first-time winner never expected to win and was "kind of speechless" when she checked the tickets and learned the good news. While it may not have been the $70 million jackpot that got her to play, Caetano certainly had no hard feelings and planned to use the money to buy her mother a new car and a plane ticket so that her best friend, who lives in Croatia, can come visit her. The rest she plans to invest and/or put towards buying her own home. Considering many young winners tend to blow their money on frivolous things, she seems like she's got a good head on her shoulders.
New York Lotto Winner Mi Hyun Moon
In September 2009, former New York resident Mi Hyun Moon purchased her first lottery ticket during a trip to the Imperial Deli in Queens. She wasn’t looking for a big win; in fact, she just went in to get $5 in change, but she had to buy something from the deli to get the change and even forgot to check if she’d won after the September 14 drawing. Luckily, her intuition eventually stepped in. Four days after the drawing, Mi Hyun Moon checked her numbers and realised that her New York Lotto ticket was worth $5 million.
The winner accepted a lump sum payout of over $2.8 million, which amounted to nearly $1.9 million after taxes. To say she was shocked would be an understatement, but more than anything, she was relieved knowing her kids’ college funds would be covered. This was a monumental win for Moon, who’d emigrated from Korea to the United States in 1989 at the young age of 20. When asked about the other ways she planned to spend her winnings, Moon said she intended to donate money to her church. Rich or not, she maintained her love for her community.
Loto Quebec Winner Charlie Lagarde
One of the luckiest lottery winners in Canada is Charlie Lagarde, who purchased her very first Loto Quebec scratch-off ticket on March 14, 2018. This day was special in a big way since it was also her 18th birthday. As a first-time lottery player, Lagarde couldn’t have been more thrilled to have hit the jackpot.
When provided with the option of taking a CA $1 million lump sum or an annuity payment of $1,000 a week for the rest of her life, the winner sought advice from a financial adviser. After her consultation, she chose the annuity payout, as this was the tax-free option. Likewise, this would provide her with more than $52,000 a year, which would allow her to start a relatively stress-free adult life.
When Lagarde was asked how she would spend her money, she said she had plans to travel as well as fund her education. As a student who aspired to be a photographer for National Geographic, this path for her certainly made the most sense.
EuroMillions Winner Jane Park
When Scottish teenager Jane Park bought her first EuroMillions ticket, she had no idea what her future would look like. No one ever truly expects to hit the jackpot, so when the 17-year-old found out she’d won the lottery on July 28, 2013, it was an absolute shock. She was suddenly £1 million richer and felt like she could buy anything in the world. As Britain’s youngest lottery winner, it came as no surprise when the teenager started making tabloids.
The details of Jane Park’s life after winning the lottery quickly became public knowledge. Her shopping spiralled out of control, enough so that her excessive buying was soon publicised. After her big win, she bought a Louis Vuitton handbag. Next, she bought a Chihuahua and named her “Princess,” which is certainly on par with what wealthy celebrities would do. While these purchases might not seem like much of a big deal, she went on to buy designer shoes, more designer handbags, a purple Range Rover, and even breast implants. Her spending habits were irresponsible at best, but eventually, she grew tired of the materialism. She realised money couldn’t buy her happiness—instead, it made her life much more complicated.
When interviewed later about how winning had affected her, Park answered that the experience had essentially ruined her life. Though it was filled with material items, her life felt “empty” to her in every other way. She now advocates that the minimum age for winning the lottery (16) is too young and should be raised to 18, as young teenagers aren’t always equipped to handle their winnings responsibly.
Despite all of the troubles she encountered, Park is now a much different person. She credits her family for helping her make wiser spending decisions. She owns two properties of her own and is much less obsessed with materialism than she was at 17.
Powerball Winner Lisa Quam
When Olympia resident Lisa Quam walked into a grocery store in Auburn, Washington, she had planned to just do a little Thanksgiving shopping. However, at the checkout, she figured she might as well buy her very first lottery ticket. On November 30, 2014, Quam and her family got the biggest news of their lives: they’d hit the US Powerball jackpot and won $90 million.
During an interview on December 4, the winner admitted she wasn’t sure whether she should take the lump sum option or annuity payments. While the lump sum would’ve given her $56.8 million (before taxes), the annuity option would’ve paid out the full amount over 30 years. Regardless, she and her family knew for certain that they would have enough money to do anything they wanted. While Quam acknowledged paying student loans and fixing up her house was a priority, she also noted she was excited to travel more and bought herself a Subaru Forester. It was clear that she’d be a modest spender, but she was also more than ready to take care of her family in a bigger way—so much so that she immediately retired from her job.
The stories of these lottery winners show us that some people have insane luck, but who’s to say we’re not amongst them? Sure, it can be difficult to not feel defeated after many losses, but the lottery wheel will keep on turning—and any day one of us may just be fortunate enough to hit the jackpot.