We won the lottery then gave winnings away by making pals rich & flushing cash down the loo after 5 bottles of champagne

THEY say you're more likely to be struck by lightning than win the lottery.

But you might have a better chance of getting your hands on jackpot millions by being the friend of a winner – as loads of them have written life-changing cheques to dozens of pals.

One EuroMillions-winning couple told this week of how they kept their eye-watering £12.4million jackpot a secret before splitting the cash with 30 friends and family.

Sharon and Nigel Mather from Trafford, Greater Manchester, scooped the prize in 2010 and then created a spreadsheet of who they wanted to share their newfound fortune with.

"It wasn’t about showing off," Sharon told the MEN.

"It was about helping the people close to us and not lying."

They're not the only lottery winners who've given their mind-boggling moolah away.

'We gave away £60m'

A £115million jackpot is probably enough to not just change your life, but the lives of everyone you've ever cared about too.

Which is probably why Frances and Patrick Connolly decided to give over half of their winnings to 175 people.

When the couple's numbers came up they decided to celebrate with a cup of tea in their modest rented home in Moira, County Down.

They then set about giving away £60million of their winnings, starting with 50 friends and family.

"We won £114,969,775.70 and we have given away more than half," Frances said last year.

"That’s £60million-worth of love. And the thing that makes me even happier is that every single person we gave money to has passed some of it on to other people. I can’t think of a day since winning the Lottery that I haven’t smiled."

Grandmother Frances added: "I’ve had more joy from changing lives than buying jewellery. I knew from the start that I’d never become part of the jet set."

The Connollys did splash out on a £1.9million five-bedroom house and a Jag – but the car was bought second-hand for £2,000.

And when they took a trip to visit one of their daughters in New Zealand, the pair decided to fly Business class instead of First because the money they saved "could pay a mortgage for a young person".

Lotto cash 'flushed down the loo'

One lottery winner made a bit of a splash when she decided to part with her winnings by flushing them down the toilet.

In 2014, Angela Maier reportedly flushed her €400,000 (around £303,500 at the time) winnings to stop the cash being used to pay for care home bills for her late husband.

The German jackpot winner was said to have been stumped with a bill from the home that cared for her husband before he passed away shortly after her win.

But instead of paying, she claims to have drunk five bottles of champagne and tore up all 800 of the €500 notes she won and flushed them down the toilet.

A court heard it wasn't technically illegal for her to have destroyed the money.

But Maier ultimately agreed to pay €4,000 (£3,310) in compensation to settle the case, the Mirror reports.

Lotto angel

Barbara Wragg enjoyed giving her lottery winnings away so much that she worried the pleasure she got from donating was "selfish".

Along with husband Ray, former hospital worker Barbara won a whopping £7.6million in 2000.

The generous couple from Sheffield went on to give away over £5.5million to friends, family, and good causes.

Their beneficiaries included cancer charities and hospitals.

But they also included smaller causes – the Wraggs paid for 250 inner-city kids to attend the pantomime for six years running.

And they covered the travel costs of 60 veterans to attend a reunion of the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy.

It's like when you give somebody a Christmas present and you watch them open it and they think it's absolutely wonderful

The couple always felt that their jackpot was "too much for two people", but spent the remaining cash going on 29 cruises around the world.

When Barbara sadly passed away aged 77 in May 2018, hundreds of people were expected to attend her funeral.

To this day, she's known as the Lotto Angel in Sheffield.

"It's probably a bit selfish giving money away sometimes because we did get pleasure from it," Barbara once said.

"It's like when you give somebody a Christmas present and you watch them open it and they think it's absolutely wonderful.

“Well, when we've given people money we get that all the time."

Bad luck lotto winners

Dave and Angie Dawes couldn't believe their luck when they won £101million in 2011.

And the generous couple decided to share their wealth by giving their friends £1million each.

"We've drawn up a list of 15 to 20 people that we're going to make millionaires," former Premier Foods supervisor Dave told The Guardian at the time.

"Anyone who has helped us through our lives."

But despite their generosity, Lady Luck soon turned on the couple.

In 2017, the couple's son, Michael, sued them for more cash after he blew through gifts of £1.6million in two years.

The Navy veteran tried to argue that he was led to believe that he would be given cash from the couple on an ongoing basis.

But a judge ultimately dismissed the case after hearing of Michael's "astonishing" level of expenditure, which included a £1,000 weekly grocery bill.

"Michael was provided with the funds to have a comfortable life, but for his own reasons he chose not to take that opportunity," the judge added.

Then in 2019, Dave and Angie were tied up and robbed by a gang in their luxurious mansion.

Dave was hit in the face before the pair were restrained with cable ties in their home, which was once owned by Tom Jones.

The thieves made off with jewellery and around £20,000 cash in the couple’s Range Rover.

The car was later found burnt out nearby after the raid in Etchingham, East Sussex.

'To hell and back'

Maggie Loughrey was unemployed and living on benefits of £58 a week when she won £27million on the EuroMillions in 2013.

At the time, Maggie from Strabane in Northern Ireland said she planned to keep just £1milllion of the jackpot for herself.

By 2014, she revealed she'd already given away £13.5million and planned to spend the remaining £12.5 transforming her beloved home town.

But despite her generous plans, Maggie has made headlines in more recent years for legal troubles and rows with local sporting groups.

She even said the win had sent her "to hell and back", despite her financial situation before hitting the jackpot.

"Money has brought me nothing but grief. It has destroyed my life," she told Sunday Life in 2019.

"I have had six years of this. I don’t believe in religion, but if there is a hell, I have been in it."

She added: "I regret winning the lottery, of course I do. I was a happy person before."

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