The curse of winning the lottery

A crumpled lotto ticket © Thinkstock

“A British couple who scooped more than £148m in the lottery,” reported The Daily Telegraph in August 2012, “have said they will use the money to improve their family life after barely seeing each other for years.”

We were like ships in the night, said the Bayfords, he (Adrian) busy in his second-hand record shop all day, she (Gillian) doing shift work in health care. But, said Mrs Bayford, “the opportunity has arisen now that hopefully I can give up work and give some time to… my husband”.

Except that when they did give up work and bought a massive house, wrote Giles Coren in The Times this week, they found “that they did not want to spend more time together after all”. On the contrary, said Jan Moir in the Daily Mail: “after two children and almost a decade of happily wedded bliss, the acrid smoke of divorce is now in the air”.

All the money seems to have achieved is to make them both very unhappy, even if the details sound “like something from a farce”. (Mrs Bayford is rumoured to have had an affair with the gardener; Mr Bayford accidentally ran over the gardener “while tootling around… in his golf buggy”.)

Behind the scenes, though, as Moir says, is a “very modern tragedy. The question is, how can ordinary people like the Bayfords possibly cope after suddenly receiving such an obscene amount of money; such an avalanche of loot thundering into hitherto spotty bank accounts?” They weren’t prepared for it and, above all, they hadn’t worked for it. “And human nature being what it is, many close to them will feel that as they did not earn it, they do not really deserve it.”

Whatever people like the Bayfords do, says Moir, the money they win on the lotto is likely to become a burden; family and friends want as much as they can get, but are rarely grateful when they get it. “Whatever the winners do, a tornado of high-velocity grudge blows through their lives.”

Mrs Bayford, for example, said she wanted to make people smile, but soon regretted her words. Strangers, chancers and spongers trooped through the shop door, “all seeking hand-outs and shouting abuse when denied the riches they thought they deserved”. The family still receive more than 40 begging letters a week.

All too often, says Moir, winning the lottery is a curse. Instead of solving the Bayfords’ problems, says Coren, the money only compounded them. Now they hate each other. “They don’t want to be together. They didn’t when they were poor, and they don’t now. All the money did was allow them to swap the life of an unhappy, austerity-stricken couple for the life of a pair of unhappy toffs.”

What’s changed in their lives is that now, at last, they’ve separated. The £148m, by comparison, “does not amount to a hill of beans”. It’s neither here nor there. “Because money isn’t. You can swap the misery of the poor for the misery of the rich. But it’s still misery.”

Tabloid money: the ‘ordinary working mum’ earning £1.2m a year

• On my recent rip to China I had a conversation with one of my guides, says Jane Moore in The Sun. “‘Peggy’… is 25 and engaged to be married. Between them, they have four jobs. When I asked why, she replied: ‘Because we want to have two children.’ The one-child policy means that, because she and her fiancé aren’t only-children themselves, a second offspring will cost them 30,000 yuan – the equivalent of £3,000 and a small fortune to an ordinary Chinese worker. When I told her that in this country people can have limitless children regardless of their circumstances, because the state will pay for them… her mouth fell open. ‘But that’s madness.’ Indeed.”

• “Described as an ‘ordinary working mother of two kids with a busy day job’, her smiling face beamed out of every newspaper this week,” says Paul Routledge in the Daily Mirror. “That’s because Liz Garfield, 38, is laughing all the way to the bank with her £1.2m-a-year pay package as the new boss of Severn Trent Water”.

It’s an “insult to millions of genuinely working mums on rubbish wages [and to] hard-pressed consumers who have to pay for it”. The water industry used to be run “by a handful of underpaid engineers and managers… No huge bills like now… The difference today is that it’s a monopoly run for the fat-cat bosses and their big-wallet shareholders”.

• “With tens of thousands of Bulgarians and Romanians now packing for Britain, David Cameron’s answer is a limit on welfare benefits,” says Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun. “But, once here, they will not leave. Shockingly, more voters now trust Labour to deal with the immigration crisis they created than the Tories who promised to sort it out… Once Roma gangs start… thieving… Mr Cameron will pay the price, not Ed Miliband.”

• Stay up to date with MoneyWeek: Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Google+

ScreenHunter_01 Mar. 25 09.51

New to MoneyWeek?

Ed Bowsher Editor Money Week

Welcome, and thank you for visiting us.

Here at MoneyWeek, our aim is simple. To give you intelligent and enjoyable commentary on the most important financial stories of the week, and tell you how to profit from them.

If you've enjoyed what you've read so far, I've got something you'll definitely be interested in.

Every working day the MoneyWeek team sends out a hard-hitting email, 'Money Morning', giving you a rundown of the latest financial events, and revealing what you should do to maximise profits and head off losses…

And with your permission, I'd like to send you Money Morning for FREE.

To sign-up enter your email address below.

We hope you enjoy your stay on the site. Good luck with your investments!

Ed Bowsher,
Digital Managing Editor, MoneyWeek

(No thanks)

Because these emails are completely free, we do have to fund them with advertising. Occasionally we will send you promotional emails, however we will never give, sell or rent your email address to any other companies.For more information, please see our Privacy policy.

MoneyWeek magazine

Latest issue:

Magazine cover
Walking out on the banks

The UK's best-selling financial magazine. Take a FREE trial today.
Claim 3 FREE Issues
Shale gas 'fracking' promises to transform Britain's energy market. Find out what it is, what it means, and how to invest.

More from MoneyWeek

The problem with the Bank of England

Fracking: Nine reasons not to get carried away

Five small-cap stocks worth a flutter

This Dutch company could help us tame floods

ScreenHunter_01 Mar. 25 09.51

The latest investment opportunities & how you can profit - sign up to our FREE daily email HERE