British Lottery Winner, Lee Ryan, recounted his rags to riches—and back to rags—story earlier this week.
Ryan bagged the UK National Lottery jackpot in March 1995 and became one of the country's first Lottery millionaires. At the time he was awaiting trial for handling stolen vehicles and, when he was subsequently given an 18-month prison sentence, he had the dubious honor of becoming the country's first lottery millionaire to end up behind bars.
Thinking back, Ryan described himself as "a monster" and said his £6.5 million win had come at just the right time because he'd been in the final stages of planning an armed robbery.
Ryan was released after serving just nine months of his sentence and, keen to pursue an extravagant lifestyle, he burned through his finances at record speed. He bought a £1 million mansion, a fleet of expensive cars and superbikes—even a helicopter. Then in 2010, after a string of failed business ventures, and with two failed relationships behind him, Ryan was broke. He spent the next two years of his life sleeping rough.
"I travelled all over the country," Ryan recalled. "I bumped into what I call 'living angels'—where I am not asking anybody for anything and someone turns up saying, 'Are you all right, mate?'"
All that's behind him now. The former winner is presently living in a rented flat in South London, and surviving on less than £10,000 a year, but he is not bitter about all the money he lost. If he hadn't won he believes the level of his crimes would have escalated.
"The win saved me from that fate—and someone else from being my victim," he said.