It's official, happiness is winning the jackpot

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The Independent Online
Britain finally has an official answer to the hotly debated question of whether winning the jackpot on the lottery makes you miserable.

The question was posed yesterday by the Heritage Select Committee, which is investigating the lottery.

On the House of Commons stand were Ken Southwell, a communications engineer who won pounds 839,000 as his share of the jackpot in the first lottery draw in November 1994, and Bob Westland, a postmaster who won pounds 3.8m last July.

Toby Jessel, Tory MP for Twickenham, asked: "We were told that if people won big, it would make them miserable, wreck their lives and damage their family relationships.

"Has it made either of you miserable?"

"The exact opposite," reported Mr Westland. "It made me very happy. It gave me security for life, and anybody who says they would be made miserable by winning doesn't know what they are talking about."

Mr Southwell said: "It hasn't made me happier, because I was happy before. It made me a lot more secure."

Both men said that they had had no problems with harassment from the press, even though Mr Southwell won the jackpot on the first week when media interest was at its highest. "In retrospect I was fairly naive in that I made the fateful mistake of showing the landlord of the village pub the ticket," Mr Southwell said. "The press got to me before Camelot did."

The worst thing which had happened as a result of his win was that he was in effect sacked. "I went back to work two days after the win [for TAS, a subsidiary of BSkyB] and I was quite happy to carry on. But I was shoved out. I think they questioned my loyalty. We're on a call-out system and I think they doubted I would get up if there was a blizzard and it was late at night."

The engineer from York has now bought several houses as investments and paid off his sister's mortgage. Mr Westland has sold his business and plans to buy a country-house hotel.

Neither had had any problem with jealousy or scroungers, they said. "It has been the exact opposite," said the jovial Mr Westland. "I've had so many people come up and congratulate me."