While we’ll always love our winners best, we just can’t go past an amazing lottery story. Here are our three favourite lottery winner stories from around the world …
In 2009, Neal Wanless was winless, working with his struggling family on a ranch in Todd County, South Dakota – one of America’s poorest areas. That was until he took a shot on a lottery ticket while out one morning buying livestock feed. That single ticket turned into a miraculous US$88.5 million windfall (nearly AUD$1.5 million today)! While it made things immediately easier for Wanless and his family, he told CBS News his life and work would continue as it ever had, with one change: he would give as much back to his community as he could.
“My family has been helped by the community and I intend to repay it back many times over,” he said.
If this story wasn’t already amazing enough, guess the name of the town where he bought his lottery ticket. That’s right: Winner, South Dakota!
In 1984, New York police officer Robert Cunningham was eating at a pizzeria when he jokingly asked friend and waitress Phyllis Penzo if instead of tipping her, he could split the winnings of a lottery ticket. Phyllis agreed, and helped him pick the numbers. On April Fool’s Day, Phyllis got a phone call from Robert telling her they’d just won US$6million (AUD$20.8 million today)!
True to his word, Robert split the winnings right down the middle, delivering them both US$287,715 annually for 21 years.
If you think this sounds like a Hollywood story, well … Hollywood agrees with you! Robert and Phyllis’s story was turned into the classic 1994 romantic comedy It Could Happen to You starring Nicholas Cage and Bridget Fonda! Revisit it here:
We’re going to end with an Aussie story you simply won’t believe …
In 1998, 36 year-old truck driver Bill Morgan suffered a massive heart attack after a serious work accident. He was rushed to the emergency room and treated with a routine drug that triggered an extreme allergic reaction and Bill’s heart to stop beating for 14 minutes. Bill was revived but remained in a coma. Despite doctors recommending Bill be taken off life support, his family held on, and 12 days later Bill recovered, with no serious health problems.
After being granted a new chance at life and a chance to reevaluate everything that was important to him, Bill got a new job, successfully proposed to his girlfriend and decided to buy a scratch-off lottery ticket. The ticket informed him he had won a new car.
If the story ended here, it would be pretty amazing, but it doesn’t …
A Melbourne news station heard Bill’s story and decided to film a short reenactment with him. Cameras were rolling as Bill bought another lottery ticket and scratched it off. He stands still for a moment before announcing “I’ve just won $250,000!”. If anyone has ever deserved this massive slice of luck, it was this Aussie battler. Watch the full video below: