The Tragedy of Lotto Gran and Accused Liar Susanne Hinte
Winning the lottery is a life-changing event, and with such tough odds for most lotto games, it is unfortunately one that most people will never even come close to experiencing. Lotto winners undoubtedly go through a wide range of emotions upon learning they have the lucky numbers, but could you imagine going through the emotional high of thinking you won, only to learn that you were actually mistaken? Unfortunately, that was the reality for one unlucky UK player who was nicknamed Lotto Gran.
Who Is Lotto Gran?
Lotto Gran was a German-born woman who was living in Worcester, England, when she made headlines for claiming half of a record-breaking jackpot in January 2016. The January 9, 2016, draw for the UK Lotto captivated the country, not only because it was the biggest jackpot in the lottery game’s history, but also because of the controversy that ensued. The lotto organisation announced that there were two tickets sold with the winning numbers 26, 27, 46, 47, 52, 58, and bonus ball 48. One of the winning tickets was claimed within days of the draw by a couple from Hawick, in the Scottish Borders. However, the second ticket owner remained a mystery for weeks.
Camelot, the group that operates the lottery game, put out a notice that the second ticket still hadn’t been claimed. They revealed to the public that the ticket had been sold in Worcester, appealing to players who had bought tickets in the area to check their tickets. One person who heard this appeal was then-48-year-old Susanne Hinte, later dubbed Lotto Gran by the tabloids.
However, there was one issue—though Hinte undoubtedly had the winning numbers, her ticket had gone through the wash in a pair of jeans, and the draw date had been scrubbed off. She later told media that though she had been pretty certain the ticket had been for an earlier draw date, she started to doubt herself as days passed and the prize went unclaimed. Still feeling a bit uncertain but starting to feel hopeful, Hinte sent her ticket to Camelot in case she actually was the mystery big winner.
How Much Money Did Susanne Hinte Win?
The record-breaking jackpot amounted to £66 million. Lotto prizes are tax-free in the UK, which means that if Hinte’s ticket was for the right draw, she would win an incredible £33 million. Unfortunately, it was determined that Hinte’s ticket was in fact for another draw, and the prize was eventually claimed by the rightful ticket owner shortly after. However, by the time the actual winner came forward, the tabloids had already gotten wind of Hinte’s story and would not let it rest.
The mother of two and grandmother was quickly branded a liar, and became a favourite subject for tabloids like The Sun and The Daily Mail. She also became a target of the public, with many people calling her names and bringing negative comments and attention to her social media pages. Matters became even worse in mid-2016, when Hinte became unable to work due to a heart condition. She was featured in documentary about living on benefits, and was later scrutinized for her spending when she purchased a £1,000 Jacuzzi allegedly to help her medical condition. Hinte quickly got rid of the Jacuzzi after the media reported on it, and she once again became a target of national ire.
Can You Claim a Lotto Prize With a Damaged Ticket?
The story of Lotto Gran is quite unsettling, as the lotto player didn’t do anything wrong, but simply did what most people would have done if they’d found themselves in her position. Though Hinte by far attracted the most attention for sending in her potentially winning ticket, she was far from alone. For that particular draw, Camelot received hundreds of claims for stolen, damaged, or lost tickets that could have been winners. In fact, what Hinte did was exactly what Camelot had asked of the public when they announced the ticket was still unclaimed.
Camelot is able to award prizes based on stolen, lost, or damaged tickets upon their discretion. Players simply have to submit a written claim to the operator within 30 days of the draw, and Camelot will investigate the claim. If the claimant is able to provide enough evidence that they did purchase the winning ticket, Camelot would be able to deem the claim valid, and would award the prize after 180 days of the draw. Hinte sending in her ticket was standard operating procedure.
What Happened to Susanne Hinte?
Susanne Hinte’s story is rather tragic. She passed away in her home of heart attack in August 2017 at the young age of 49. Her death took place just a year and a half after her life was turned upside down by the tabloids. After her death, her children pursued a lawsuit against The Sun for publishing intimate photos of Hinte while she was still alive. Her children were awarded a five-figure sum for misuse of private information, copyright and data protection law, breach of confidence, and the emotional distress the article caused Hinte and her family. Before her death, Hinte told the BBC that she regretted sending her ticket in, as the negative media attention made her life miserable and she even entertained suicidal thoughts. Certainly an unfortunate and disproportionate result to what was an honest—and common—mistake.
If following the lottery has taught us anything, it’s that big jackpots and huge amounts of money can often bring out the worst in people. As Lotto Gran’s story and the story of so many other winners reveals, media attention from claiming the lottery—whether the claim is valid or not—far too often leads to personal turmoil and can even end in tragedy.