Revealed: ‘Lotto Lag’ who ended up broke and homeless after blowing his £6.5m jackpot on a helicopter, fleet of supercars and a country mansion is now working as a decorator (and says he’s the ‘happiest I’ve ever been’)
- Lee Ryan spent £6.5million lottery win on flash cars and Leicestershire mansion
The so-called ‘Lotto Lag’ who ended up homeless after frittering away his £6.5million win is now happy working as a painter and decorator.
Small-time criminal Lee Ryan, 63, made history in 1995 as the first Lottery winner to be serving a jail sentence and later went on to label the jackpot ‘a curse’.
The man who bought a poolside mansion, two Ducati superbikes, a plane, a helicopter and a fours sports cars eventually ran out of cash and ended up living on the streets.
After a chequered few years, Mr Ryan got back on his feet and is happily decorating an upmarket home in Chiswick, west London, similar to the mansion he once owned, the Daily Mirror reports.
Mr Ryan still plays the lottery and fancies his changes of winning again, although he vows to spend the money helping the homeless – telling a reporter, ‘it sounds weird, but I don’t need anything’.
Lee Ryan pictured with his £100,000 Jet Ranger helicopter on the grounds of his mansion in Leicestershire
Lottery winner Lee Ryan parking one of his brand new cars, with a personalized number plate, outside court in 1995
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He said: ‘If I had my time again, I’d open a hotel for the homeless. Then you feel you’ve done something worthwhile.’
Mr Ryan was dubbed by press ‘the Lotto Lag’ as he was still in jail for handling stolen goods at the time of his win, which he did not get to enjoy for another nine months.
He had fixated on becoming a millionaire after spending his first spell behind bars in 1986 and incredibly, won the jackpot with his wife Karen on March 11, 1995, just 17 weeks after the lottery started.
The couple quickly gave up their Leicester council home and moved their children into a £1million mansion with a pool, tennis court and jacuzzi, while Mr Ryan indulged his love of sports cars with a Bentley, a Ferrari, a Porsche and a BMW with number plates LEE 1, LEE 2, LEE 3 and LEE 4.
In addition to the two Ducati motorbikes, he also splashed out on a £125,000 plane and £235,000 helicopter.
Mr Ryan said: ”Believe it or not a lot of my money went on people that I thought needed it at the time. I used to slip envelopes of cash to homeless people and that was the most pleasure I ever got from having money. Obviously you buy helicopters and stuff like that but that was a passion I’d had as a kid.
Mr Ryan splashed out on a £1 million country mansion (pictured) and a fleet of cars, including a Bentley, a Ferrari, a Porsche and BMW with personalised number plates LEE 1, LEE 2, LEE 3 and LEE 4
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When I had the money, I thought this is what I wanted, what I prayed for and then it happened and it was kind of, ‘Be careful what you wish for’. People always think, ‘Oh, if I win tomorrow that will be the end of my worries’. That’s just not true, this is just the beginning of your worries.’
Almost immediately, he ran into problems.
Mr Ryan said relationships with friends and family became fractured as people came out of the woodwork.
He was forced to hire an ex-SAS soldier as a bodyguard after hearing of a plot to kidnap one of his children.
His housekeeper stole £40,000 and was jailed for three years, while his £145,000 Ferrari was targeted by an arsonist, A £15,000 caravan on the grounds of his home was also burnt out.
Eventually, he and Karen split in 2003 and put their mansion on the market. He moved with girlfriend Jyldyz Djangaracheva to her home country, Kyrgyzstan in central Asia, where his attempts to invest £2million in new businesses spectacularly backfired.
He states he invested the money in scheme to bring the lottery to China but alleges he was swindled by corrupt officials.
Lee Ryan At Coys International Historic Festival in 1996 with his wife and children
Another scheme to build a fish farm in Kyrgyzstan flopped when organised crime bosses ran off with the fish.
By 2010, Mr Ryan was filing a for a second divorce, and returned to London penniless. He sought refuge in a homeless shelter, which he now assists by providing free decorating.
He now lives in Twickenham, southwest London, and is philosophical about his ups and downs – even spending the occasional night in a tent ‘just to remind myself I’m bomb-proof’.
He added: I’ve gone through it all. Now I’m just looking for that middle ground where you still have to strive for what you want, rather than just having it handed to you.’
Although he regards his lotto win as more trouble than it was worth, he also credits it with saving him from another, more serious jail term. At the time, he was planning an armed robbery and later handed over his shotgun to police as part of an amnesty.
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