The world’s biggest jackpot to date was on the US Powerball in 2016 and was worth an amazing $1.586 billion. That record might be outshined very shortly, with both the Mega Millions and US Powerball reaching record-breaking jackpots over the weekend. Lottery fever is truly in full swing in 2021, with both lottos reaching a combined value of $1.580 billion dollars!
If you’ve ever dreamed about winning the lottery, you probably know exactly what you’d spend it on first. If so it might surprise you to learn the wacky and wonderful first purchases these lotto winners made once they struck it rich.
1. Community and Cannabis
Mega lottery winner Bob Erb isn’t interested in flash cars, splurging on real estate or jetting around the world. Instead, he’s focused on two important issues close to his heart. The legalization of marijuana and funding local charities and businesses in his town.
Erb, a local marijuana activist and antique dealer, won $25 million in 2013. In the span of that year, he gave away $10 million to neighbours, friends, local charities and businesses. His first call, however, was to his banker to set up a trust fund for his grandchildren and invest $10 million in stocks to ensure the interest on his winnings would secure him a healthy retirement plan.
Erb’s activism efforts and generosity to the cause helped ensure that marijuana was legalised on 17th October 2018 in Canada, the second country on record to do so after Uruguay formally legalised the drug in 2013.
2. Water Park Remembrance
John and Linda Kutey also decided to give back to their community and honour their parents at the same time. Shortly after winning a Mega Millions lottery jackpot worth $319 million dollars with their workplace syndicate, the couple collected their share, worth $28.7M and headed on down to their local town hall to see how they could give back.
The answer was a quick and easy one; the public wading pool was in bad shape and desperately needed replacing. The Kuteys were happy to help, donating $200,000 dollars to replace the out of date shallow pool with a water spray park. The water park was opened to the public on 1st July 2013, much to children and parents delight.
3. Good clean…fun?
Turning from the heartfelt to the truly bizarre, we land squarely in the world of promotional wrestling. Specifically, women’s wrestling. In bikinis.
Meet Jonathan Vargas a man who, at the tender age of 19, won the $35M Powerball jackpot in 2008. He chose to buy a television production company and used his new-found wealth to create and star in Wrestlicious, an all-female wrestling show.
Wrestlicious was an American women’s professional wrestling promotion based in Florida. The show focused on female wrestling in the style of WWE. Sadly the show was a flop and never made it past season 1. Although it remains off air to this day, some internet sleuths have managed to dig up footage of the first season and it is just as outlandish and peculiar as you would expect. In 2011 it was reported to be #11 on the list of the 25 worst wrestling promotions.
4. Nude, nude on the Range!
A retired hairdresser from Ormond Beach, Florida, Tim Clements was out camping when he hit the lotto in 2004. He collected a lump sum of $3.3 million and bought 10-acres of land in Hernando County, FL. His friends started asking him when they could visit, and the idea for a “dude ranch” was born.
Clements named the business the CJ Dude Ranch, combining his last name and that of David Jennings, co-owner of the property. The Dude Ranch was unique, with a clothing-optional stance, with one exception. Visitors “must wear pants and boots to ride the horses.”
However, Clements never sought permission from Hernando County to set up the business. Neighbours saw the new sign and began asking questions. County code enforcement officers were called in to check out the operation. Authorities noted that the county had a no-public-nudity ordinance, enacted in 2002.
Clements stated he didn’t think anything was wrong with the clothing-optional business due to the remote location and the vegetation surrounding his property. “My place is so private,” he said. “I’m always out washing the bus in the nude.”
After public pushback, In 2009 Clements said, “I might just shut (the Ranch) down” and go back to inviting friends to stay there. It seems that’s exactly what he did, and, after a short time in the spotlight, the nude dude range once again became a private affair.
5. Investing in the Best Medicine
Paul and Sue Rosenau won the $181.2 million Powerball jackpot in 2008, they knew right away what they wanted to do with the money. As 5 years previously, their first granddaughter had died of a rare and incurable disease.
Krabbe disease is a rare, inherited degenerative disorder of the central and peripheral nervous systems, affecting one out of about 100,000 newborns.
Paul and Sue Rosenau founded The Legacy of Angels Foundation to increase awareness of the disease and to help fund research into early detection in newborns, treatment and cure. Sue and Paul Rosenau serve on the foundation’s board of directors, hoping to promote awareness of early detection screening on various degenerative diseases.
The stats from the lotto experts
Of course, we wouldn’t be able to talk about the slightly stranger purchases without talking about their more popular counterparts. Here are some of the most popular first purchases by lotto millionaires, as recorded by Camelot, owner and lottery operator of EuroMillions and Thunderball.
1. Home is where the Heart is
In a survey of more than 3,000 millionaires, the most popular expenditure by far was on housing. Lottery millionaires have shelled out more than £3.3 Billion pounds on their lavish abodes, making a roof over our heads as the number one priority, even if it’s decorated in gold and diamonds.
Each lotto winner owns an average of 2.7 UK properties. The majority (82%) sold their old property and spent an average of £900,000 on a new place. Almost a third bought a home with a hot tub and 28% went for a walk-in wardrobe, whereas 22% opted for a state of the art games room. 30% of winners also decided to employ a cleaner, 24% a gardener and 5% a beautician.
2. Investing for the future
Investments to provide income were the second most popular with a net of £2.12bn spent so far. Investments for future/children accounted for £1.61bn and £1.17bn was used on gifts for family and friends.
3. Luxuries and Pampering
Over £460m was spent on buying new cars with Audi leading the charge at 16%. Range Rover and BMW were the second most sought after and Mercedes and Land Rover also made the top five of most popular cars. The average price of a winner’s favourite car is £46,116 and in total 17,190 cars have been bought by lottery millionaires.
The USA is the most frequent holiday destination choice by far, raking in 27%. The Caribbean was the favourite overseas country for 9% of winners, with Dubai and the Canary Islands chosen by 6% each. Five-star hotels are frequented by 68% of winners although 10% of winners have also spent £7.4m on new caravans.