Are you too old to win the lottery?

Winning a lottery jackpot is supposed to change your life: suddenly you can start a business, go travelling, and treat your family as they are starting out in life. That's all very well if you're in the prime of life when you scoop a major prize, but what if you're 80 - or even older? Can you be too old to make the most of a lottery win?

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There have certainly been some older winners. Back in 2013, 84-year-old Gloria Mackenzie of Zephyrhills in Florida became the biggest ever sole lottery winner in America, when she scooped the jackpot of £370 million. She had to go public under state laws, but chose not to appear at the press conference.

In the UK we have had a winner who was even older. Reginald Smith, an 85-year-old from Uttoxeter in Staffordshire, won £2.3 million in 2003.

The oldest in recent months was Ervin Smolinski, who scooped £300,000 in March on the Michigan lottery at the age of 94 - on his birthday. He had apparently been buying his family lottery tickets on their birthdays for years, and they started to return the favour. In among the pile this year was a winning ticket from his daughter-in-law. He told reporters that the only purchases he had planned so far were a new car and a new shed.

However, the oldest winner of all time was Nguyen Van Het, from Vietnam, who won 7.6 billion Vietnamese Dong (about £235,000) in 2010. He was 97 at the time of the win, and bought a sack of rice for everyone living in the same alley.

Is this too old?

However old you are, life can always be made easier with a bit more cash - especially if you are on a low, fixed income, and have been struggling for years. However, if you have lost mobility or are in ill-health, it can be difficult to take full advantage of all the opportunities that the win brings.

There's an argument that it's far better to win when you can enjoy the cash for half your life - or longer. Reginald summed up his views after winning at the age of 85, saying: "I would have liked it to have happened about 20 or 30 years ago, but there you are."

There are also times when life is incredibly difficult to afford - such as when you are starting out, or when your children are young. It would be nice for a lottery winner to get the cash when they need it most - or when their offspring do - so it can have maximum impact.

However, a major win is perhaps far easier to cope with at an advanced age. You already have enough life experience to put the win into perspective, and you are more likely to be able to keep your feet on the ground. You only have to hear the stories of some of the younger winners, like Callie Rogers and Michael Carroll, who both won at the age of 19 and blew the lot, to see how winning when you are older may not be such a bad thing after all.

But what do you think? How old is too old for a lottery win? Let us know in the comments.

Biggest UK lottery winners
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Biggest UK lottery winners

Colin and Chris Weir, from Largs in Ayrshire scooped 161 million in the EuroMillions draw after several rollovers in 2011. They are the biggest British lottery winners in history.

Adrian Bayford, who won an astonishing £148m on the Euromillions with his wife Gillian, had to shut up the music shop he owns, because people targeted it with requests for money.
One British ticket won  £113,019,926 in October 2010 but decided not to go public.
Car mechanic and racing driver Neil Trotter scooped a staggering £107.9 million jackpot on the Euromillions lottery in March 2014.
Dave and Angela Dawes won £101 million on the EuroMillions in 2011. It was only the third time the couple, from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, had played the lottery. The couple are said to have since split up.
The sum was won in May 2010 but the winner kept their identity a secret.
One lucky British ticket-holder picked up a £81million EuroMillions rollover but remained anonymous.

Nigel Page and Justine Laycock from Cirencester bagged a £56 million jackpot back in February 2011. On winning the jackpot, Page said: 'I'd already checked my National Lottery account and had seen I'd won £55 on Lotto when I decided to buy two Lucky Dips for the big EuroMillions jackpot on Friday.'

One lucky winner won shy of 50 million but chose to remain anonymous.

Les and Sam Scadding from Newport, South Wales, and a syndicate of seven Liverpudlian call-centre workers shared a staggering £91 million in November 2009. Les, an unemployed mechanic, was £68 overdrawn on the day he bought his ticket, while the Liverpool syndicate only started playing EuroMillions together four months before their win.

Carrington, 22, from Stapleford in Nottingham, banked £45 million after matching all five numbers and two Lucky Stars in a EuroMillions draw in February 2012. The Iceland supervisor said she planned to marry painter fiancee Matt Topham, 22, following the Lucky Dip win.

Husband and wife Gareth and Catherine Bull have fairly modest spending plans despite their £40.6 million jackpot win in January. Speaking about what she planned to do now that she was rich, Catherine explained that she intended to use part of their winnings to replace the carpet on her upstairs landing...

Angela Kelly became one of the biggest lottery winners in UK history back in 2007, after scooping a £35 million EuroMillions jackpot. This is estimated to earn £5,000 a day in interest alone, meaning she's unlikely to ever be short of cash.

In June 2009, 74-year-old Brian Caswell got the surprise of his life when he took his lottery ticket to his local newsagent and discovered he'd won almost £25 million.

Belfast housewife Iris Jeffrey, 58, was the lucky holder of the record 20.1 million rollover lottery winning ticket back in 2004.

Jeffrey, 58, a cancer sufferer, only realised three weeks after the draw took place that she had won the  jackpot after organisers Camelot pleaded for the person holding the prize ticket to come forward and claim the prize.

Stephen Smith and his wife Ida from Hemel Hempstead, Herts, won nearly 19 million in the National Lottery. Mr Smith said he would give up his winnings if he could have his health and the chance to live a longer life with his wife.

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