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04 April 2016

The Extraordinary Stories Behind Famous Lotto Wins

5 Unbelievable Lotto Winner Stories - These People Are Crazy!

Each and every week lottery games from around the world create new millioniares overnight. While most quietly collect their winnings and head for the nearest Porsche dealership, others like to do things in a more spectacular fashion. Over the years there have been some incredible winner stories, and we've picked the five best for you!

5 Unbelievable Lotto Winner Stories - These People Are Crazy!

The 9 Lives Of Frane Selak

Dubbed the world's unluckiest and luckiest man, Frane Selak's early life sounds like the Croatian remake of Final Destination.

The unassuming music teacher's story starts in 1962, when a train he was on derailed and plunged into an icy river. 17 of his fellow passengers perished, but Frane escaped with just a broken arm and a nasty bout of pneumonia.

A year later, while flying from Zagreb to Rijeka the plane's door blew out, sucking him and many other passengers out. Selak survived, landing miraculously in a hay stack but 19 others died. It was his first and last flight, surprisingly.

Four years later a bus he was travelling in lost control and crashed into a river, killing 4 others. Despite a second immersion in icy water, Frane survived again.

Another 4 years passed before disaster struck once again, he narrowly escaped a fire that engulfed his car thanks to a faulty fuel tank. The switch from public to private transport seemingly doing him no good.

Three years later he was in another car fire, when a malfunction sent flames coursing through the air vents. He was unharmed but lost much of his hair.

In 1995 he was hit by a bus, but escaped with minor injuries.

In 1996, swerving to avoid an oncoming bus, his car left the road and plunged into a gorge. Frane was launched from the car and landed safely in a tree, but his Skoda exploded 300 feet below.

At this point it seems like fate and death had exhausted their attempts to off poor Frane, and instead decided to reward him with a long overdue bit of good fortune, a lottery win of £700,000. Easily enough to buy him the safest car on the market. 

French Phantom Winner

What's the first thing you do when you think you've won the lottery? We're reliably informed that standard procedure is to check the ticket numerous times, then dance around the room.

It’s a tried and tested formula, and it stops people making the mistake this woman did… Instead of double checking the ticket, calling in to verify her win or doing anything sensible, she grabbed her purse and headed for the shops.

Embarking on a four week spending binge, she racked up a £3,000 credit card bill on clothes, perfumes, ornaments and more. At this point, following a deafening silence from the lottery authorities her husband (finally) suggested they double check the ticket, and surprise surprise it wasn't a winner…

At this point it would have been best to acknowledge her mistake, find the receipts and lug everything back to the shop. Did she do that? Is this a list of sensible lottery winners?

Claiming her bag had been stolen and her cards used fraudulently, the police got involved and pointed out to her that CCTV clearly showed her purchasing the items.

She was handed a 4-month suspended sentence and given a strict repayment plan by a court judge. 

“I just won $250,000. I’m not joking!”

This next tale is as much heart warming as it is crazy, and comes from the land down under.

In 1997 Billy Morgan was a truck driver living in a trailer park in Australia. During one of his road trips his vehicle was involved in a bad accident, although not seriously injured Morgan was rushed to hospital, where things took a turn for the worst. 

Reacting badly to some medication, Morgan had a massive heart attack and was clinically dead for 14 minutes, before slipping into a 12 day coma. In that time his family were advised that he would likely have lost many of his cognitive functions and turning off life support would be the best course of action.

Luckily for Billy, and indeed for this article, he woke up, fit as a fiddle no less. He changed career, got engaged and won a car worth £17,000 on a scratchcard. This caught the attention of the local media, not because winning a car is particularly notable, but because a year ago he was medically dead.

As part of a cheesy local news segment Billy was handed a scratchcard, the idea being he relived his winning moment and exclaimed something along the lines of "crikey, I've won a car."

It's at this point, cameras rolling, that Morgan goes off script, instead he exclaims “I just won $250,000. I’m not joking!” And he wasn't, he'd picked up another winning scratchcard. 

Lightning Does Strike Twice

It's almost impossible to read an article about the lottery without being reminded that you are more likely to be hit by lightning than scoop the jackpot. But what are the odds of winning the lottery AND being hit by lightning? The answer, 1.26 trillion to one. Odds that one Nova Scotia resident beat in 2015.

Peter McCathie was 14 when a bolt of lightning struck him as he was mooring a boat (it wasn't even a particularly stormy day, Peter recounts). Unaware of the odds against him, Peter and his co-worker Diana Miller started playing the lottery, and a year later they won the jackpot.

To put McCathie's incredible odds-beating achievement into perspective, here are some things that are more likely than winning the lottery and being hit by lightning:

  • Being killed by a hot tap (1:5,000,000) 
  • Becoming president of the United States (1:5,693,092).
  • Becoming a saint (1:20,000,00)
  • Being killed by an asteroid (1:74,817,414)

That's not all, Peter's daughter was also hit by lightning while working as a guide in the Canadian province of Manitoba, unfortunately we are unable to verify if she plays the lottery. 

The King Of Chavs

Of all the unbelievable lotto winner stories, the tale of Michael Carroll is easily the best of them all. Carroll was famously wearing an electronic tag when he picked up his winners cheque, and didn't even have a bank account.

The part time bin-man began a voyage of excess that makes him a lottery legend, even if it is for all the wrong reasons.

He purchased a luxury 5-bedroom property called The Grange (advertised as a family home) and threw endless drug fuelled sex parties that would last several days. He also turned the back garden into a personal demolition derby.

Before abandoning the property after the gas and electricity were cut off, the house was wrecked and the garden was full of dozens of cars in various states of disrepair.

In his heyday Carroll would be adorned with thousands of pounds worth of gold rings, watches and necklaces. In total he claimed to own £100,000 worth of jewellery, before it was stolen. The next day he went out and rebought it all.

He was arrested several times for a variety of crimes, most notably firing steel balls from the back of his Mercedes van (emblazoned with his "The King of Chavs" moniker), breaking 32 car and shop windows.

In 2006, 4 years after his win, he denied claims that he was out of money, and in 2010 he reapplied for his old job as a bin-man. He later admitted on national television that all his money, barring a few investments, was gone by 2007.

Carroll now lives a quieter life, earning £400 a week from his job in a slaughterhouse, although he has always told the press he doesn’t regret how he spent his winnings.

Fancy embarking on your own crazy lottery adventure? Bet on this week's EuroMillions and be in with the chance of taking home millions! 


The lottery is so much more than a weekly draw, behind every game is a wealth of amazing stories and fascinating facts, and that's why I love it.