In Camelot, they make magic The winners

After four months, the nation is hooked on the National Lottery. Good news all round - but the best news is for those running the show.

National Lottery winners, who have won £460m in the 18 weekly draws since the first game late last year, have been of all ages and from across the social spectrum. But those who have taken up the offer to parade their new-found wealth in public have in the main had little to begin with.

The biggest winner, and the one who provoked a storm of controversy because of the way his identity was revealed by the tabloids, is the Lancashire factory worker from Blackburn who took £17.9m.

The 41-year-old Asian man, dubbed the "curry king" by the Sun newspaper because of the way he shared his lunches with his workmates, called in sick the Monday after his win and took himself off to his native India to escape the glare of publicity.

Esther Tracey chose a different tack. Popping flash bulbs and the swank of the Ritz Hotel in London's Piccadilly appeared just the spot to begin a new life as a millionaire for the unemployed 24-year-old from Poplar, east London.

Of course, she told the massed ranks of the media, the £1,373,571 winnings would not change her life. But for someone with no boyfriend, no apparent ambition and nothing more to look forward to than going out to the bingo with her mother and father, it would be hard to imagine the cash not bringing a few changes.

Suzanne Miller, 33, who lives with her pipe-fitter husband in a Canvey Island bungalow and earns £250 a week, was being cautious with her £250.000 win. Her only plans were to redecorate the bedroom, holiday in Tunisia, and swap her Escort XR3i for a Mercedes.

Ian MacKinnon

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