London, Jan. 30: When office goers in the UK have nothing better to do, they speculate on what they would do ' and say as a suitably withering departing remark to the boss ' if they won a million pounds in a lottery.
The question being asked now across Europe is: “Ah, yes, but what would you do if you won '125 million'”
This is the current value of the jackpot in the EuroMillions lottery, which is at a record high because of the “rollover” from previous weeks when no one won.
To win, punters have to pick a set of five numbers from 1 to 50 from one box and two “lucky stars” from 1 to 9 from another. The cost of entering is two Euros in Europe and '1.50 in the UK and people can have as many goes as they like.
The statistical chance of being run over by a 2B bus in Calcutta is higher, even for residents of London and Paris, but this doesn’t stop people from playing.
No one managed to pick the right combination last Friday ' the numbers 09, 21, 15, 40, 49 and lucky stars 01 and 04. If there is no winner on Friday, February 10, the money will be shared among winners in the next winning prize tier in that draw.
The '125-milion jackpot will be the world’s biggest single lottery payout if won by just one player. This would not place the winner, though, at the same level as Lakshmi Mittal, whose personal wealth has been estimated at nearly '15 billion.
Last Friday, just before the deadline at 7.30 GMT, tickets in the UK were selling at 1,000 per cent of the usual rate, amounting to over three million tickets an hour, according to Camelot, the lottery operator in Britain.
A Camelot spokesman said: “Even though no one scooped the jackpot, UK players have won a total of '16 million worth of prizes ranging from '9.51 to '657,741, plus even more money has been raised for the ‘Good Causes’. In this roll series alone, EuroMillions has raised '40 million for the ‘Good Causes’ here in the UK.”
EuroMillions is played in the UK, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, France, Luxembourg, Spain and Switzerland. The UK’s first and biggest EuroMillions jackpot win was scooped by Marion Richardson, from Gateshead, who won '16,752,144.80 in April 2004.
The previous biggest winner of the EuroMillions lottery was Dolores McNamara, 47, from Co Limerick, Ireland, the mother of six children, who won '77 million in July 2005. She is waiting for her new 38-acre estate to be developed.
The main EuroMillions jackpot prize has not been won since early November, making last Friday’s draw the 11th rollover. Time is running out for potential winners, however, as the jackpot cannot roll beyond February 10. If it is not won by then, it will be divided among any winners in the next prize tier in that draw.
The top prize will be the world’s biggest single lottery payout if only one player strikes lucky.
American lotteries have offered bigger prizes, but the winners have always opted for a smaller one-off payment rather than receiving the full amount in instalments.
Since the British lottery began a decade ago, '16 billion has been raised. The number of millionaires created stands at 1,600.
Quite a lot of research has been done on winners who have gone quickly from rags to riches to rags. It has sometimes been a curse.
The lottery’s first mega millionaire, Mukhtar Mohidin, who won '17.9 m, was racked with guilt because he said as a Muslim, he shouldn’t have gambled. He didn’t give any of the money, however, to his estranged wife.
“Winning the lottery isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be,” said Evelyn Adams, who won the New Jersey lottery not just once but twice (1985, 1986) to the value of $ 5.4 million. Today, the money is gone and Adams lives in a caravan.
The story of Viv Nicholson, a British woman, has entered legend. In 1961, she won '152,000 on the football pools ' worth '3 million in today’s money ' and declared that she was going to “spend, spend, spend”. She did.
With a taste for racehorses, shocking pink Cadillacs and five husbands who turned out to be after her money, she was eventually reduced to living on a state pension.
A musical, Spend Spend Spend, based on Nicholson’s life, also went bust.