Choosing whether to accept publicity when you win a big lottery prize is one of the first big decisions you have to make as a brand new millionaire. There are advantages and disadvantages to revealing your identity at a press conference as there with opting to stay anonymous. There is no set solution to the question, it all depends on the winner’s preferences and circumstances.
In 2014 a report revealed that only 15 percent of winners of significant lottery prizes in the UK go public, although the majority of the very biggest winners do choose to face the press. Here are the arguments on both sides.
A major reason behind some lottery winners allowing their names to be made public is that they simply don’t believe they could hide something that impacts on their lives so heavily as a big windfall without removing themselves from their normal social circles. On picking up his cheque for a £107.9 million EuroMillions win in March 2014, Neil Trotter of Coulsdon, Surrey commented "I didn't want to disappear and hide, I didn't think that would be possible. I didn't want to be deceitful to all my friends."
Colin and Christine Weir of Largs, Ayrshire were the winners of the UK’s biggest ever lottery prize and they similarly opted to speak to the press. On the decision to reveal their identities after their £161.6 million EuroMillions win in July 2011, Christine commented that “we would have had to have constructed lies for our nearest and dearest. We don’t want to live like that.”
The Weirs admitted they had received numerous begging letters once their faces had been plastered across newspapers, television shows and websites, but going public also allowed them to launch the Weir Charitable Trust, which helps provides grants to small charities across Scotland.
A reason many players choose to stay anonymous is to avoid the many requests for handouts from strangers that public winners often report receiving. Others are more concerned about their windfall causing family rifts, worrying that relatives and friends might expect a certain slice of the prize and could fall out over perceived injustices in how the winners decided to distribute gifts.
Private winners also hope to escape the public scrutiny into their private lives which has been suffered by some big winners who go public. EuroMillions winners Adrian and Gillian Bayford of Haverhill, Suffolk underwent a very public divorce 15 months after winning £148.6 million, with some intrusive reports making allegations as to the reasons for the split which were denied by the couple.
Lottery Publicity Myths
There is a myth that winners who stay private miss out on the support given by the National Lottery after a win of more than £500,000. However, National Lottery winners’ advisor Andy Carter insists that is not the case, stating “we have an aftercare programme in place to ensure that all winners have access to legal and financial advice.” Carter also confirmed that the winner’s advisor stays in contact with them, public or private, for as long as they are needed, often offering a vital outlet for players who have kept their good fortune a secret from almost everyone else.
Another misconception is that winners receive larger payouts if they agree to publicity, but the National Lottery has confirmed that this has never been the case.
Do Big Winners Go Public?
Here are the top five Lotto jackpot wins of all time and details of whether the winners went public or stayed anonymous:
|6th April 2016||£35.1 million||Anonymous|
|9th January 2016||£33 million||David and Carol Martin of Hawick, Scottish Borders|
|9th January 2016||£33 million||Anonymous|
|13th February 2016||£32.5 million||Gerry and Lisa Cannings of Deeping St James,
|10th June 1995||£22.5 million||Mark Gardiner and Paul Madison of East Sussex|
Here are the top five UK EuroMillions winners and information on whether they took the publicity or remained private:
|12th July 2011||£161.6 million||Chris and Colin Weir of Largs, Ayrshire|
|10th August 2012||£148.6 million||Adrian and Gillian Bayford of Haverhill, Suffolk|
|11th June 2019||£123.4 million||Anonymous|
|24th April 2018||£121.2 million||Anonymous|
|1st January 2019||£114.9 million||Frances and Patrick Connolly of Northern Ireland|