Everybody loves an underdog story, especially when the underdog is as hapless as Paul Long. He didn’t have much going for him aside from a floundering love life. And when his longtime girlfriend broke up with him, everything was stacked against him…until a stroke of luck pushed him into the spotlight. His ex couldn’t believe her eyes.
Before his life changed forever, things were not going well for Paul Long. A Dagenham Ford plant worker for over a decade, the 55-year-old suffered an injury to his Achilles’ tendon on the job. He was injured, unemployed, and out of options…
To make matters worse, he and his girlfriend of 5 years, Julie West, broke off their relationship, forcing him to move out of their shared home in Essex. With only 10 dollars in his account, Paul knew better than to hope for a miracle.
Until he woke up to a strange email announcing that he won $11,000 from a Lucky Dip lottery ticket. He was certain he was being scammed…but just in case, he forwarded the email to his friend, who replied with even weirder news.
He hadn’t won thousands — he’d won millions. $13 million, to be exact. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He’d need concrete proof that something so lucky had happened to him. So, he called the Lotto helpline.
At first, he refused to believe the news. He even asked the person on the helpline if he was “in a room full of people” playing a joke on him. But he just kept getting the same answer…
What he kept hearing was life changing: “Congratulations, Mr. Long! You’re a millionaire!” In that moment, Paul could only think of one thing: Tea. “I might have added an extra sugar. I think I even watched Sunday Brunch,” he said.
Even after a few days, Paul was in a state of shock. “It’s only been in the last 24 hours that I have dared to believe it’s real,” he said. But once the news sunk in, he was ready to celebrate.
Paul was suddenly a millionaire — and soon enough, everybody knew. ”All of a sudden, my phone’s red hot — everyone loves you,” he said. And they all had the same question that Paul had: Why him? What did he do to appease the lotto-gods?
According to Paul, it all came down to timing, luck, and soccer. His favorite soccer team is Leyton Orient FC, who won 3-0 against Woking in the National League. After that match, he was so happy he bought the Lucky Dip lottery ticket, and the rest is history.
Paul realized that it was because of Leyton Orient that he won. It was a meaningful connection, since he’d been a fan of the team since he was just 11 years old. So, he considered using his winnings to uphold a childhood dream.
When he won his millions, Orient’s CEO congratulated Paul and invited him to watch a home match against Maidenhead United. He didn’t invite Paul to just watch the game, however.
He wanted Paul to invest his money in Leyton Orient, but Paul was hesitant. He was new to the whole “millionaire” thing and wasn’t sure what to do with it all. So he talked to the team’s main investor, Kent Teague, who gave him alarming information.
Kent told Paul that he would likely lose money from investing in the team. Paul realized how careful he had to be with his wealth. “I haven’t got as many millions to lose as Kent,” he said. Besides, Paul had other plans for his money.
His “plans” would mean sharing it with an old flame, his ex-wife, Lisa. He mainly wanted to feel secure about the future of his three grown children, which meant sharing his wealth with his family. But there was another ex Paul still had on his mind.
As for Paul’s kids, he doesn’t plan on spoiling them anytime soon. “I think they should learn the value of things,” he said, likely remembering his past life of scrimping and saving. But that doesn’t mean some things won’t change.
”I want to give them a life where I know they’re going to be alright,” he said. He considered buying a few modest properties as well as season tickets to Leyton Orient games for himself and his son.
This frame of mind, he hopes, will make for a happy future instead of a stressful one. “The future is going to be very rosy, but it’s not just my rosy journey, I fully intend to take everyone on the journey with me.”
It doesn’t seem like money will change Paul much, if his down-to-earth attitude proves anything. When asked as to the first thing he’ll do with his newfound wealth, he joked that he’ll probably switch to a “posher brand of tea.” But of course, Julie hadn’t totally slipped his mind.
Paul said that Julie was probably “gutted” after learning that he won $13 million in the lottery. Still, that didn’t mean Paul would be stingy. “You never know, I might take her for a holiday or a meal,” he said.
When asked if she was happy for Paul, Julie was understandably aloof. “I suppose so,” she said, but she also said that Paul was “out of order” for assuming she was “gutted.” A neighbor had a different opinion.
“Paul moved out in February. He was a good bloke and now he’s won £9 million – [Julie] must be kicking herself,” the neighbor said. Either way, it can’t be easy, finding out your “dead beat” ex now has enough to buy a penthouse in London.
But as previous lotto winners in England claim, buying property might not be the wisest move for new money. When British couple Matt Topham and Cassey Carrington won the lottery in 2012, they couldn’t believe their good fortune. They received more than £45,000,000 (almost $64 million), which was even more than Paul!
For Matt, a house painter, and Cassey, a retail worker, winning the lottery wasn’t something they ever thought would happen to them. They were content enough living in their shared flat in Nottingham.
The first thing they did with their winnings was buy a seven-bedroom mansion for about $1.6 million. For many, this palatial estate would be a dream come true, but for Matt and Cassey, it was only the beginning of a nightmare.
The couple didn’t move into the mansion as soon as they bought the place, however. Instead, they planned to renovate and customize it to their preferences. It was a project that was slated to cost them over $6 million.
Matt and Cassey called the mansion “Serenity” and renderings (like the one below) revealed just how much work needed to be done to the existing property to make it their dream home. They even had lofty goals of building a 10-car garage and adding a second housing area to the property.
While their plans were certainly big, there was no reason to think that they couldn’t accomplish them – especially with their newly acquired millions. However, their renovations came to a complete standstill…
Having so much money at the ready was a new experience for the young couple. As soon as they had access to their winnings, they bought another home for some of their close friends and celebrated with them, too.
They also indulged in several luxurious vacations with family and friends to places like Spain and New York. However, they weren’t just spending their money on frivolities; they had real-life plans in the works…
Now, with their new fortune, the pair could finally afford to tie the knot and have that wedding they’d always dreamed about. Then, two years later, they welcomed their first child.
While Matt and Cassey were celebrating their new lives together, their dream mansion was left neglected. Trespassers constantly broke into it, too, knowing it was vacant. The police made frequent trips to the property to keep vandals at bay.
The mansion, originally built in the 1930s and known as the “Rainbow House,” was once a source of pride in the area. After Matt and Cassey purchased it, however, it became an eyesore and a danger to the community.
Neighbors regularly complained about the unkempt landscaping and the ever-growing collection of graffiti. Vandals weren’t the only problematic guests who were attracted to the abandoned property, either…
Smashed toilets revealed open drains where rats and other vermin ran rampant, causing serious health concerns. Understandably, people in the area were livid at the Tophams for allowing this to go on.
“The Tophams have shedloads of money and should be spending some to end this farce—or at least on security,” one neighbor said. Matt and Cassey were not under any financial strain, so this should’ve been a no-brainer, right?
“There is also an empty swimming pool, which is a real danger too. I’m surprised no one has been seriously hurt in there,” said another neighbor. On top of that, trespassers used the house as a place to do drugs. And it got even worse…
Teens in the area christened the property as the “scariest place to take a selfie” in all of Nottingham, which only increased the rate of trespassers and the potential for injuries on site. Local officials put in a request to Matt and Cassey asking that they demolish the entire property before the problem continued to escalate.
Matt and Cassey were heartbroken to learn that they would never get to transform the original property into the mansion of their dreams. They agreed that the house needed to be torn down, and they presented updated plans for the property to the local council…
While demolishing the “Rainbow House” would be a tough blow for the married couple, it doesn’t mean that their dreams of living the luxurious life were over. They still owned the land, and they planned to build a new home on the site.
After all, this was an area that was known for its beautiful old houses. In fact, it was mere steps away from Wollaton Hall, which was used as Wayne Manor in the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises.
Matt and Cassey planned to break ground as soon as the council approved of the new plans for their home. This time, they said they would keep a watchful eye on their property every step of the way…