There are plenty of well-worn cliches about how lottery winners spend their money: Gigantic houses, flashy cars and round-the-world trips come to mind!
But not everyone who wins the big one has quite such vanilla tastes. It actually turns out that the spending patterns of a lot of big jackpot winners were, shall we say… a little unusual? Here’s our list of the craziest jackpot splurges.
Jonathan Vargas created his own wrestling tv show (seriously!)
Jonathan Vargas was only 19 when his numbers came up in the US Powerball. His winnings totalled a staggering $35.3 million, and his initial plans for the money were surprisingly modest: invest most of it, buy a new house and generally just secure his future.
But it didn’t take long for all of that to go out the window. Jonathan chose to make a very unique foray into the entertainment industry: combining his twin passions in life, for wrestling and scantily-clad women, he created his own television show, “Wrestlicious Takedown”.
The show was a strange mixture of all-female wrestling and comedy sketches, with Vargas himself frequently making appearances under his rapper alias “JV Rich”.
Far from being a wild success, Wrestlicious was cancelled after one series. But fair play to Jonathan – no one can say he didn’t follow his dreams!
Tom Crist Gave ALL of it away to charity
We already knew that lottery winners are a generous bunch. After all, gifts to friends and family, as well as large philanthropic donations, both rank highly on statistics about how people spend their lottery windfalls.
But it’s extremely rare to see someone opt to give ALL of their winnings away to charity. Yet this is exactly what Canadian Tom Crist, who won $40 million on the Lotto Max draw in 2013, is currently in the process of doing. Here’s what he said:
“I just retired at the end of September so I was fortunate enough in my career to set myself up and my kids anyway, and there was no doubt in my mind where that money was going to go, it was going to go to charity.”
Since then, Tom’s spent his time selecting the best charitable causes to best utilise his immense fortune. His generosity has been so astonishing, his name was even falsely used in an email scam in which the scammers attempted to convince people they had been selected to receive a large amount of money for free.
So if an email bearing the name Tom Crist lands in your inbox, be warned!
Gloria MacKenzie fixed her childhood’s school’s roof
84 year old Gloria MacKenzie won an absolutely jaw-dropping $590.5 million in the US Powerball, and – not unreasonably given her age – chose to take the lump-sum payout of $278 million. She then wasted no time in upgrading the small trailer she lived in to a 6000-odd foot luxury home.
Her next step was a little less conventional. Gloria made a $2m donation to Schenck High School, her local high school which she went to as a kid, and that her daughter was currently teaching at. The money was set aside to repair the school’s roof.
Clearly not averse to grand acts of generosity, a women closely fitting Gloria Mackenzie’s description has been witnessed volunteering to cover an entire restaurant’s bill for dinner.
Obviously not interested in the fame, Gloria herself has never given comment on either of these incidents. As we’re learning quickly, there are plenty of people out there willing to give generously to others with no expectation of anything in return!
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Michael Carroll Blew it all in Spectacular Fashion
Carroll, who styled himself the “King of Chavs”, was only 19 when he won £9.7 million on the National Lottery back in 2002. Far from being well-equipped to properly look after that kind of money, he did not even have a bank account set up at the time of his lottery win.
In the 10 years that followed, Carroll managed to waste all of his money on lavish new homes (which he trashed), cars (which he didn’t insure) and expensive parties (fuelled by expensive booze). His national reputation as a “Lotto Lout” was stoked by the numerous occasions he ran into trouble with the law, receiving an ASBO and serving jail time in the years following his win.
In 2010 he applied for his old job as a binman, but didn’t get it. Since then, he’s held jobs as at a biscuit factory, and in a slaughterhouse. He’s been quoted as saying:
“I get £204 every week for packing and stacking shortbread and cookies and I love it. I treasure those wages more than any £9 million fortune.”
This cautionary tale just goes to show that, for some, a massive lottery win can be more of a curse than blessing!
John Kutey built a water park
John Kutey won a $28.7 million share of $319 million dollars as part of a syndicate with work colleagues. With the intention of giving something back to his home city, he head to the village hall with his wife to work out how best to do just that.
And that’s how Kutey ended up donating $200,000 towards the construction of a “Spray park” in Green Island, New York, which was dedicated to the memory of John and his wife’s parents.
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