Camelot's worst nightmare is back

The Lottery winner Lee Ryan is out of jail and charging pounds 50,000 an interview. By Rebecca Fowler

Share
Related Topics
When Lee Ryan walked out of prison yesterday, beaming widely, he was not clutching the pounds 30 traditionally handed out to departing inmates. Mr Ryan, 32, has his own pounds 6.5m fortune, won on the National Lottery, and was instead picked up by his wife and three children in the Bentley to be taken to his pounds 1m mansion where the gardener was hanging a "welcome home" sign.

When that sapphire hand of fate, created by Camelot's advertising company, swept down from a star-filled sky last year and boomed, "It is you, Mr Ryan," the lottery had found one of its most appropriate winners. No one better summed up that, in spite of all our residual Christian faith that the meek shall inherit the earth, the lottery is entirely amoral and at the current rate a dodgy car dealer has better odds of winning than any virtuous vicar.

In this modern-day fairy-tale it was Ryan, sentenced to 18 months for handling luxury stolen cars, who claimed the gold at the end of the rainbow and went off into the sunset of Stafford jail. As one of the earliest and most publicised winners, it was a bitter blow for Camelot, anxious for good publicity to combat fear that the lottery was an evil force creating a nation of greed-crazed gamblers.

Instead they were presented with Cheeky, as he was dubbed by the tabloids, who concluded stoically after his trial that he had "the mind of a criminal" and has not ruled out the possibility of further jail sentences because "you can never say never". When the charges against him were first disclosed in the press, a spokesman from Camelot was forced to acknowledge: "Everybody in this country over the age of 16 is entitled to play the lottery ... all sorts of people will be winners."

But it still sat uncomfortably with that celestial image of the hand emerging from the heavens, that has so upset the Church of England, and benignly points to the one person in 14 million who has hit the jackpot. It is the quasi-religious image Camelot created for itself that has tripped it up. "When we won, we looked at each other, me and Karen, and thought why us?" Mr Ryan said candidly after his win. "Because to be honest, I'm not the most deserving person to have won."

Mr Ryan is not alone in facing post-lottery-win scrutiny. When Mukhtar Mohidin, the Blackburn factory worker, won pounds 17.9m, Camelot announced: "They are a delightful family ... they have reacted very well to the news." To date Mr Mohidin has fled the country, moved to the Home Counties under a new name, and temporarily split from his wife while his friends and family descended into an undignified scrap for a share in the fortune.

Yet, despite the undisputed evidence that Cheeky is a rascal who was given an extra week's imprisonment for shouting at the judge and vaulting over the witness box, he also delighted the punters by enjoying the fairy- tale so flamboyantly. While the arguably more deserving winners bought new Vauxhall Cavaliers, gave to their children and invested the rest, he was spend, spend, spending, and pronouncing that the most important thing for a lottery winner is "to be yourself".

He promptly bought the pounds 1m mansion set in 40 acres of land, a Bel Ranger helicopter, and a fleet of the luxury cars he is so fond of, including pounds 180,000 Ferrari Testarossa, a Porsche, a Jaguar, and he also has a Ducatti motorbike. He plans to concentrate on passing his commercial flying licence. The mansion is set in 40 acres. Not bad for the less-than-honest car dealer who advertised sales with fluorescent yellow signs in the back window of his council house on Leicester's notorious Braunston estate.

Although there is nothing commendable in Cheeky's crimes or his extravagance, he has also provided the best sport of the lottery so far: watching Camelot trip up over the total and utter amorality of the lottery, while winners emerge as normal and fallible individuals with histories that are not always a PR dream. The lottery operator, which is itself scooping more than pounds 1m in profits each week, would not take messages for Cheeky yesterday, who was reputedly asking pounds 50,000 an interview. "We don't really have anything to do with him anymore," said a spokeswoman.

But even Mr Ryan, a charitable man according to his lawyer, is not averse to some old-fashioned platitudes fitting of a more traditional fairy-tale, that would warm the hearts of Camelot and Anglican vicars alike. As he stepped into the Bentley, with the registration LEE 4, he said: "It has done me a good favour going to prison. It gave me an insight into what it's all about again. Money is not the be-all and end-all. It's family ... I had what I wanted before I got the money, but I just didn't realise it."

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: the strange case of the errant royal pronoun

Guy Keleny
Flowers and candles are placed at the site where a refrigerated truck with decomposing bodies was found by an Austrian motorway  

EU migrant crisis: The 71 people found dead in a lorry should have reached sanctuary

Charlotte Mcdonald-Gibson
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future