I dreamed of riches, but I’m glad I don’t buy tickets now

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The National Lottery, in conjunction with Oxford Economics, has released some statistics about its big winners, what they do after winning and what they spend their money on.

It seems that 20 per cent of winners continue with their jobs, 80 per cent move house and 10 per cent buy a caravan among other items.

The lottery was an eye-opener when it began, bringing gambling – which everyone in my age group had been warned about as a path that leads to ruin – to the masses as an okay pastime in which to indulge.

After all, it was primetime Saturday night TV fodder and supported good causes. What could be better to invest in for all those students, like me, who were experiencing the joys of student loans for the first time?

I played every week, sitting down on a Saturday night with my ticket – already signed on the back, just in case – clasped in my sweaty hands.

I knew back then, just knew, that I was going to be a winner as I had thought so long and hard about the numbers. Then, when other numbers were drawn, I’d feel foolish for not guessing them correctly.

You know what I mean. It’s like when the number 42 is drawn for the fifth week running, and you feel like you should have been able to predict that, which then makes you feel as if you haven’t revised for an exam properly. And yet, with no cash return and feeling a failure, I still bought tickets, just in case.

Finally, I wised up. I know you have to be in it to win it, but with the advent of mid-week draws and scratch cards, I realised that if I was in everything, I was in danger of spending everything. The people who were winning seemed so far removed from real people. It was unobtainable to join their club.

After reading about the winners’ spending habits, I found out about all the unclaimed prizes – including £63m on a ticket bought in Stevenage in June. It’s unbelievable that so much money is sitting there going unclaimed.

I’m glad I no longer buy tickets. Because surely what’s worse than not winning is the knowledge of all that unclaimed money and the countless caravans it could buy.