"It seems a lot of money," says world-weary Clarke, "but I won't see a penny of it. I owe it all. Well, I don't exactly owe it all, but I need it all for various schemes I have on the go. Or at least that Tory Holdings have on the go."
The system used by Kenneth Clarke to win his £2bn windfall was simplicity itself. He just used lucky numbers, in this case taken from a bottle of whisky and a packet of cigarettes.
"It was the first time I had ever used this system," he says. "Until now I had always used lucky numbers based on VAT and domestic fuel, but it was getting me nowhere, so I thought, oh sod it, let's try something entirely different."
To you or me two billion pounds would seem a lot of money, and certainly enough to see us to the end of our lives, but to Clarke it seems only just enough for what he needs.
"Once I have paid a few outstanding debts - medical bills, school expenses, etc - there won't be a great deal left," he says, "and I shall need all of that to help get re-elected at the next shareholders' meeting."
Win re-election at the next shareholders meeting? Excuse me, but how can winning £2bn on the national lottery help you to win re-election?
"Work it out," says Clarke. "Tory Holdings have - oh, let's say, about thirty million shareholders. Big firm, lots of business, some of it above board, some it shady. Lots of shareholders. Maybe twenty five million shareholders. Something like that. I was never very good with figures. So you get these two billion pounds - how many noughts are there in two billion?"
That rather depends if you say that a billion is a thousand million or a million million.
"Does it? How very interesting!" says Kenneth Clarke. "Well, which is bigger?"
A million million.
"Right, let's go for that! So there are six noughts in a million and that makes twelve noughts in a billion, which is £2,000,000,000,000 I've just won. So if I share that out equally among the shareholders of Tory Holdings with a little note suggesting that if they vote for me there will be more of that on the way for them, wink wink, I should be home and dry. Let's say that there are 30,000,000 shareholders. Two billion divided by that is ... well, it's quite a nice little bit of pocket money each."
It's about £80,000 each, off the top of my head, unless we got the number of noughts wrong.
"Quite possibly we did," says Kenneth Clarke.
"Anyway, £80,000 is far too much. I was thinking in terms of about ten pounds each. That's usually about enough to fix an election. Yes, I should think just a tenner each, and keep the rest ..."
Most people in the position of having won £2bn in a sweepstake would request the minimum of publicity and avoid the glare of the limelight, but Kenneth Clarke is made of sterner stuff. He actually requested extra publicity, did he not?
"Yes, I don't think it hurts to stick your head over the parapet," says Clarke. "I am not going to be one of those shrinking violets who say that a windfall win won't change their lives. What's the point of winning the bloody national lottery if it doesn't bloody well change your life? I want my bloody life to be changed. That's why I am going on a nationwide tour of interviews to tell people about how the money is going to change my life. After all, I wouldn't be talking to you if I didn't want all thepublicity I could get, would I?"
Will Mr Clarke be going in for the lottery again? Does he have hopes of another bonanza?
"Oh yes," says Mr Clarke. "The more money, the better."
And what method of choosing the lucky winning ticket will he pick this next time? Will it be something to do with whisky bottles again? Or mortgage numbers? And if he strikes lucky again, does he have any ambition to be the next chief executive of Tory Holdings?
"That would be telling," says Kenneth Clarke. "And now, if you don't mind, I have to rush out and spend, spend, spend."Reuse content