Lottery winner lived on bread and water as ticket lay unchecked

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The Independent Online

An unemployed man who recently spent a month sleeping in his car because he was homeless found out yesterday that he won £250,000 on the National Lottery in February.

An unemployed man who recently spent a month sleeping in his car because he was homeless found out yesterday that he won £250,000 on the National Lottery in February.

Chris Jackson, who is from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, had the ticket for six months without realising it was a winner. He rediscovered it a week before his prize money was due to be given away to "good causes". He had read in his local paper that no one had claimed the winning ticket, and checked the numbers against a pile of old tickets in his flat.

"I can't believe I have been struggling to get by over the past few months and I have had this money all along. I am still in complete shock," said Mr Jackson, 43.

The former cleaner now lives in a bedsit in Southend. When he read about the ticket, he was in the library looking at job advertisements.

"This win could not have come at a better time for me and if I had not been in the library looking for a job I would not have known that I had a winning ticket," he said.

Mr Jackson, who was divorced from his wife seven years ago and has three teenage children, said he would invest some of the money for them, and added that he would continue playing the lottery.

His financial troubles started in May when debts began piling up. He moved house and was living on £30-a-week unemployment benefit. He ended up giving up his home and sleeping for a month in a Proton car, which he had bought for £3,000.

"I was living on bread and water over the last threeweeks before I found this [bedsit]," he said. "I had never been unemployed up until then. It was the lowest point in my life." But he said he had "tears in my eyes" when he found out he had the winning ticket.

"I'm not the type of person to rush out and buy a flash car or anything. I'll just be happy with a decent home," said Mr Jackson, adding that perhaps he would buy a "small and practical" car.

He said that his new house would be either in Basildon, Essex, or in Southend, and that some of the money would go towards paying outstanding bills and debts.

A total of £333m in uncollected prize money has already been donated to charitable causes in six years. Winners must come forward within 180 days of their win to claim the cash. Almost £32m unclaimed prize money is still being held by Camelot.

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