From £6.5 million lottery win to homelessness

Sarah Coles
Lee Ryan: one lottery winner who lost everything
Lee Ryan: one lottery winner who lost everything

Lee Ryan was one of the first people to win the National Lottery in 1995, when he scooped £6.5 million. Since the win he has spent time in jail, made some spectacularly poor financial decisions which left him with nothing, and spent two years living on the streets. He says that winning the lottery saved him from a life of crime, but that he's far happier now in a £10,000 a year job.

Ryan was interviewed by The Sun newspaper to mark 20 years of the National Lottery. He was the first controversial character to win the jackpot - just 17 weeks after the game was first launched. Hit the headlines again weeks after his win when he was jailed for 18 months for handling stolen cars (and is pictured here on his way to prison) - for which he was nicknamed the Lotto Lag.

On his release, he threw caution to the wind, and lived the millionaire lifestyle. He married his girlfriend (who was the mother of his three children), bought a fleet of super-cars and bikes plus a plane and a helicopter (which he was fined for buzzing houses with), and a £1 million mansion in Leicestershire, with 40 acres of grounds.

The Mirror reported that he had his share of misfortune: a housekeeper stole £40,000, an arsonist set fire to his Ferrari, a caravan in the grounds of his house was burned out, and he was forced to hire a bodyguard after hearing of a plot to kidnap one of his children. Finally, on a trip to Kyrgyzstan (after splitting with his wife and meeting a woman from the country), he invested in a property scheme which went badly and lost him the last of his fortune.

By 2010, he had spent the lot, and after splitting up with his girlfriend, he spent two years living on the streets. Ryan, aged 54, told The Sun that he was happier now. He earns £10,000 a year as a cameraman and has a tiny rented flat.

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Lottery Winner Who Spent Fortune On Drugs Now Works In Cookie Factory
Lottery Winner Who Spent Fortune On Drugs Now Works In Cookie Factory

Lottery winners who lost it all

The riches-to-rags lottery story is more common than you would think. Perhaps the most famous example is Michael Carroll - otherwise known as the King of Chavs. He won £9.7 million in 2002 at the age of 19, and was declared bankrupt just eight years later. Since then he has divorced his wife and been in jail twice. He started claiming benefits, and was homeless for a while. In 2013 he said he had finally found happiness working in a shortbread factory.

Another youngster who ran into difficulties after a win was Callie Rogers, Britain's youngest lottery winner. She won £1.9 million at the age of 16 in 2003. Unfortunately she spent the money quickly, on cosmetic surgery, holidays, partying and drugs. In 2013, ten years later, she said she was finally happy - with just £2,000 in the bank.

A less well-known lottery loser was John McGuiness, a former hospital porter, who won £10 million on the National Lottery in 1997. He gave £3 million to his family, and enjoyed the high life for a while. Unfortunately he also decided to invest £4 million in Livingstone Football Club. The club took out loans against the money he had invested and then went into administration, leaving him with nothing. In 2008 he owed £2 million.

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