How a £2million lottery winner ended up with £7 in his pocket

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When Roger Griffiths won almost £2 million on the National Lottery, he thought he and his family were set up for life. He lived in a mansion, drove a Porsche, took luxury holidays abroad and sent his children to a £10,000-a-year private school. Today, however, he has only £7 in the bank, having blown the windfall he now considers a ‘poisoned chalice’.

The 42-year-old, whose 14-year marriage has collapsed, has even been forced to move in with his parents as he tries to sell the two homes he bought. The father of two said: ‘I had it all, but it’s gone.  I feel ashamed to say this, but I haven’t been smart enough to make it work. ‘I’m trying to keep the wolf from my door but I’m running out of ideas. If it wasn’t for my family helping me, I’d be in trouble.’


£670,000 – a house in Wetherby, West Yorkshire
£200,000 – a beauty salon purchased to generate a steady income
£120,000 – cost of goods destroyed in a house fire
£100,000 – paying off bills
£50,000 – a range of cars, including a Porsche
£30,000 – holidays to New York, Monaco, Dubai, Florida and Majorca
£25,000 – record an album with an old student band
£10,000 – annual school fees per child

He added: ‘I loved being rich. There were times when I didn’t look at price tags and that was ludicrous, stupid – but I loved it.’ Mr Griffiths was working as an IT manager when he won £1.8million on the National Lottery in 2005 – enough to earn £340 a day in interest at one point.  He and his wife, Lara, bought a beauty salon for £200,000 to provide a steady income and aimed to double their wealth through property and stockmarket investments.

 They lived in a £670,000 house and, for a while, appeared to have it all as they jetted off to Monaco, New York and Dubai, bought champagne by the case and partied with celebrities including Take That. Mr Griffiths even reunited his old student rock band and shelled out £25,000 to record an album that sold only 600 copies. But their dream life began to fall apart when the financial crisis of 2007 halved the value of their investments in weeks and their salon started losing £4,000 a month. They were soon forced to rely on money they had hoped to keep as savings. Mr Griffiths said: ‘We had vowed never to drop below £1million, but there was no adding to it, no protecting it. ‘We were haemorrhaging money. It was awful. And once you have tasted that life of a millionaire, it’s difficult to step back.’ Amid tensions over their deteriorating finances, the couple split up.


Break-up: The couple split after 14 years of marriage when their business venture failed

Mrs Griffiths, 43, stayed in the marital home in Wetherby, near Leeds – where the couple lost around £120,000 worth of luxury goods in a fire in December 2010 – and Mr Griffiths moved into a house in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, that he had bought as an investment. With the properties on the market, Mr Griffiths said: ‘I sometimes wonder, “How did it come to this?” ‘To an extent I have only myself to blame, but I also feel cheated by the financial crisis. My luck stopped when I won the lottery. ‘I loved every minute but it put massive pressure on me. I thought I was clever enough to make something bigger happen from it.’ Mr Griffiths, who is now a self-employed recruitment consultant, added: ‘Looking back at the lottery win, it was like a poisoned chalice.’


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