The £161m question: why do big winners go public?

The names and faces of Colin and Christine Weir may not remain in the public's consciousness for quite as long as some of the people whose worldly wealth theirs now exceeds – David Bowie, Kylie Minogue, Ringo Starr, Phil Collins – but their decision to go public is an increasingly rare one among lottery winners in an increasingly media-savvy world.

"We would have preferred to stay anonymous, but we recognised it wasn't a possibility," said Christine, sitting in front of a wall of lottery logos as the flash bulbs fired off around her. "We wouldn't have been able to enjoy the experience if we had constructed lies to tell our nearest and dearest."

There is, of course, a difference between constructing a story to conceal your win from everyone, and agreeing to a grandiose press conference, with the obligatory (and rather embarrassing) champagne-spraying photographs.

But Mr and Mrs Weir are far from the only winners after ajackpot of this magnitude. "Camelot love it when people go public," said PR agent Mark Borkowski. "They love it. Ifeveryone remained anonymous, how do you get people to think it might be them who could win £161m?

"You need people prepared to go and sit on a sofa in a hotel in front of a bank of flashing cameras. They might even think it's a good idea. Maybe they want to be famous. But suddenly every nitwit and idiot in the world is after you. You'd end up spending half your money on protecting yourself. I'd advise anyone in that situation to keep schtum, but I'm sure there is a persuasive power worked on them to do it."

"Of course it's fantastic for us," said a spokesperson for Camelot. "We get to celebrate their win as well." But the organisation maintains there are advantages to telling the world you are considerably richer than them.

"People worry about the web of lies they have to construct, and the minute it gets out the news spreads like wildfire. A lot of winners find it difficult to communicate their win to all their friends. Holding a press conference takes all that away," the spokesperson continued. "We tell people what to expect if they choose to go public. The media interest, the interest from other people. The choice is entirely up to them. But it'd be challenging to conceal a prize like £161m."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk