Why is it that the majority of lottery winners are elderly people? How often do we hear about young people who are just beginning their lives, coming into a sudden million dollar windfall? Could it have anything to do with living long enough to have raked up so much good karma that it finally pays off one fateful day? By this time of course, as a senior citizen, you’ve already spent a small fortune buying lottery tickets every week for most of your life, that on your gazillionth try, you finally buy one worth a few million.
But what about those especially rare instances, when a multi million dollar lottery winner is under the age of 25? Surely anyone who’s only lived to 25 hasn’t racked up enough good karma to win a windfall worth millions! Perhaps winning the lottery has nothing to do with good karma, and everything to do with random, sheer dumb luck. Recent reports detail a convicted sex offender who actually won $3 million on a scratch off ticket in the state of Florida. Hows that for irony? In any case, here are 12 of the youngest lottery winners ever.
12. Robert Salo – 18 – $1000/Week For Life
18 year old Brooklyn native Robert Salo purchased a $2 Win For Life scratch ticket from a Coney Island gas station in 2012 on a whim, and to his amazement, discovered it was worth $1000 a week for life. The life changing event took place just a week before the teenager’s high school graduation. If he chose to, Robert could decide not to find a job and still receive a decent annual income of $48,000 (before taxes). The high school senior at the time was reportedly the youngest person to ever win the New York lottery’s Win For Life scratch-off game.
11. Tracey Makin – 16 – $1.2 million
In 1998, 16 year old Tracey Makin won 1 million euros playing the Lucky Dip lottery game in Belfast Ireland, which converts to about $1.2 million. The supermarket worker at the time initially believed she’d won 10 euros but was absolutely floored when it was confirmed that she’d won big. The ticket was only the third one she’d purchased in her life. Tracey describes the moment by saying: “A woman asked me for a print-out of Wednesday’s numbers. I had a look at them and I thought I might have won a tenner. I printed it off and checked my ticket in the back of the store and realized I had five numbers. My heart was racing and I thought, ‘Oh my God. I’ll never need to work again’. When I checked it again I had six numbers and I called the phone line. The man on the other end told me to sit down and told me how much I had won.” Now holding an office job 14 years later, Tracey tied up most of her winnings in investments, and credits her parents for helping her use the money wisely.
10. Emma Wildin – 29 – $1.5 million
In 2013, 29 year old mother of two, Emma Wildin often purchased scratch tickets as a little treat to herself. Before winning 1 million pounds (about 1.5 million in dollars) on a National Lottery scratch ticket in Cinderford, England, the most she’d ever won was $100. Emma describes the moment she realized she’d become a millionaire by saying, “I always scratch off the winning panel before I scratch off the prize, so I immediately saw I’d won something. Then of course I scratched off the prize panel and saw, “MILL”. This became “MILLION”. I just threw everything on to the floor and ran into the house screaming and jumping up and down. I was shouting”We’ve won a million pounds!” Emma goes on to explain that she plans to live like a normal student and not too fancy. She also admits to still purchasing scratch tickets each week.
9. Stuart Donnelly – 17 – $2.5 million
Stuart Donnelly who died in 2010 at the age of 29, collected 2 million euros ($2.5 million) in 1997, at the early age of 17, after splitting a 25 million euro jackpot with 12 other winners. According to friends and family, the fortune made the young man miserable very quickly, as he was unable to handle the strain of becoming an instant millionaire. Stuart reportedly became extremely reclusive, hardly ever leaving the luxury home he’d purchased with his winnings, in which his dead body was also discovered. A 17 year old college student at the time of his big win, Stuart dropped out immediately and took his friends and family on vacations, spending heaping amounts of the money on them. In a 2003 interview, the young man was quoted as saying, “It was very hard to deal with all the attention I got. I even had people camping outside my house. It put a huge strain on me and my family.”
8. Callie Rogers – 22 – $3 million
In 2003, 16 year old Callie Rogers became the youngest lottery winner in Britain’s history, collecting 1.9 million euros ($3 million). At the time, the 16 year old was living with foster parents and working as a check-out girl. The teenager didn’t waste any time spending the money on vacations, gifts, properties, shopping sprees and plastic surgery. Six short years after her win, she’d become a single mother of two and was quoted as saying, “My life is in shambles and hopefully now it has all gone I can find some happiness. It’s brought me nothing but unhappiness. It’s ruined my life.” Callie admits to having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on drugs at the influence of her ex boyfriend, and also admits to attempting suicide three times since her big win. Now 27, she’s left with 2000 euros in savings and more recently says, she’s never felt happier, adding, “I can’t believe ten years have passed since I stood holding that huge cheque. It feels like a lifetime ago. I was too young to win the lottery – I don’t think 16-year-olds should be eligible.”
7. Kricket Slik – 21 – $3.5 million
In 2011, 21 year old Hamilton native Kricket Slik hit the Lotto 649 jackpot for $3.5 million. On a whim after a friend had asked her to pick up cigarettes, Kricket used the change to purchase a ticket at Jai & J’s Convenience store. The day after the numbers were announced, the 21 year old scanned her ticket on a self checker and initially thought the machine was broken when it revealed that she was a ‘big winner’, so she scanned it repeatedly. Finally after checking her numbers online, she was able to confirm that she’d indeed won the jackpot. The young lady admitted to being lectured by family members about using her windfall responsibly and made plans to travel the world.
6. Ianthe Fullagar – 18 – $8.7 million
Ianthe Fullagar was only 18 years old when she won 7 million euros ($8.7 million) in 2008, after purchasing a Euro Millions ticket. The teenager initially thought she’d only matched three numbers, but was in total shock when she discovered that she had all five numbers plus one lucky star. She says, “I checked the back of the ticket and saw that the average win for those numbers was £280,000 and couldn’t stop screaming. My mum called the National Lottery Line and it was only then that I realized I had won a share of the jackpot. We were both screaming so loudly that my dog, Brock, didn’t know what was happening and bit me on the bottom.” Just two short years after her big win, Ianthe was named the 27th Richest person in the UK with a net worth of $10.5 million today, after making some very wise investments.
5. Michael Carroll – 19 – $15.4 million
19 year old Norfolk native Michael Carroll won 9 million euros ($15.4 million) from a National Lottery ticket in 2002, and is one of the most infamous lottery winners to squander his fortune in less than a decade. The young man spent his winnings on obscene amounts of drugs; reportedly smoking 2000 euros worth of crack cocaine a day, as well as paying for numerous prostitutes, exotic cars, property and more gambling. Michael admits to having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on jewelry that was eventually stolen, but the young multi-millionaire would just buy it again. He’s quoted as saying, “‘I only started to think about three things – drugs, sex and gold. The dealer who introduced me to crack has more of my lotto money than I do.”
4. Unidentified West Midlands Teenager – 18 – $27 million
An 18 year old West Midlands native who wishes to remain anonymous won a humongous 22 million euro ($27 million jackpot) in 2013, making him one of Great Britain’s richest teenagers overnight. The young man celebrated by flying out to the middle east and vacationing at a $10,000 a night hotel. Due to the winners request for privacy, lottery organizers are prohibited from releasing much information about the lucky teenager, including his name and address.
3. Sandeep Singh – 22 – $30 million
22 year old Hyannis, Massachusetts native, Sandeep Singh won a $30.5 million Mega Millions jackpot in 2012. The Best Buy employee used $4 winnings from a scratch-off ticket to purchase four quick pick Mega Millions tickets, one of which ended up being the $30.5 million jackpot. The jackpot was originally $61 million which was split between the 22 year old and another ticket holder with the same winning numbers. He credits his sister for picking the lucky ticket, who he asked to make the pick up for him because he wouldn’t get off of work in time. Sandeep admits that he’d only started playing the lottery a year earlier and is surprised to have won so soon. The young man plans on helping his hard working mother pay off some bills, and share it among the rest of his family members, as well as donate to the community.
2. Jay Vargas – 19 – $35 million
Jay Vargas was a 19 year old construction worker when he hit the $35.5 million Powerball Jackpot in 2007. The young man used a combination of his families ages and birthdays to pick the winning numbers. Jay had this to say about his sudden riches: “I was living large, at first. I partied hardy. When this first happened, I partied like a rock star. I thought about how I’m going to maintain it. That was the biggest thing. I had hundreds come up to me looking for money. I had a lot of lost cousins.” Shortly after winning, the teenager took a course in personal finance, determined not to end up like the many teenage big winners before him who have squandered their fortunes away.
1. Kelsey Zachow – 24 – $66 million
24 year old Kelsey Zachow, a Port Huron, Michigan native, won a staggering $66 million jackpot in the Mega Millions lottery this summer. The young lady hadn’t checked her lottery ticket until 10 days after the draw, completely unaware that the jackpot was sitting in her purse. The 24 year old told lottery officials she had actually accumulated several lottery tickets in her purse that had gone unchecked. Kelsey chose to take her winnings in one lump sum and will stand to receive $27 million after taxes. The young woman is quoted as saying, “When the clerk at the store told me I had a big winner I was positive that he was mistaken. There was a long line in the store behind me, so I decided to leave and looked the numbers up. When I got into my car. That’s when I realized I had won the jackpot and could barely breathe.”