‘How winning the lottery ruined my life’

Cheers: Jane Park toasted her win with Irn-Bru because she was too young for champagne. © PA

Jane Park was 17-years-old when she became the UK’s youngest Euromillions winner. Four years later, she says the £1m prize changed her life — for the worse. Now she wants to sue. Why?

What’s happening

‘Are you joking me?’

Jane Park was living in her family’s house in Edinburgh when she bought a lottery ticket, aged 17. She had left school and found a job. But then she read her numbers — she had won £1m.

She is now 21. And last week she said that the money had made her life ‘ten times worse’.

Find out more

She bought a purple Range Rover but it was ‘flashy and people were always looking at me’. She went on holiday to the Maldives, but everyone was ‘snooty’, and she preferred Benidorm.

Most of all, she says, people do not understand the ‘stress’ of becoming so rich so young. Her life is ‘ruined’ and ‘empty’. Now she is considering legal action. ‘I think 18 should be the minimum age for winning the ­lottery, at the least.’

She is hardly the first wealthy person to be unhappy. In 2010, a group of psychologists found that even looking at large piles of cash causes people to ‘savour’ simple pleasures less. Minecraft creator Markus Persson sold his company for £2.5bn, only to tweet a year later that he had never felt more isolated.

Some say…

Money cannot buy happiness. Being happy means having good friends, a loving family, and taking the time to enjoy the simple things — without worrying about buying the latest fashion items like handbags or splashing out on sports cars. And being rich comes with its own stresses and anxieties. It is a lesson we often need to learn again and again.

Others think…

That is not always true. Psychologists also say that a ‘scarcity mindset’ (ie, being poor) can send people into a spiral of fear and self-loathing. Having money is not a problem — it just has to be spent correctly. The happiest rich people are those who give generously, buy experiences rather than possessions, and find a sense of purpose in life.

You Decide

  1. Do you have sympathy for Jane Park?

Activities

  1. Write a budget (a plan of income and spending) to show what you would do with £1m if you won the lottery.

Some People Say...

“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness didn’t know where to shop.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Lottery
Tickets are sold with some of the proceeds allocated to prizes. There is a very small chance of winning a big amount of money.
Maldives
A group of islands in the Indian Ocean.
Benidorm
A holiday resort on the east coast of Spain.
Psychologists
People who study the human mind, and how it works, and how it affects human behaviour.
Isolated
Far away, having little contact with others, so ‘alone, lonely’.
Scarcity
The state of being in short supply, so ‘scarce’.

Subjects

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