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It could be you but in all honesty I'd much rather it was me


SPEND, SPEND... SPENT: 1960s pools winner Viv Nicholson

SPEND, SPEND... SPENT: 1960s pools winner Viv Nicholson

SPEND, SPEND... SPENT: 1960s pools winner Viv Nicholson

The fact that an Irish ticket holder won this week's €88,587,275 million Euromillions jackpot has at least put paid to the tired cliche about the country being full of begrudgers.

Everyone seemed to have something to say about it last week, and while there were a few odd moans - Mick Wallace complaining that Morning Ireland was more interested in talking about the lottery rather than his latest attempt at Leaders' Questions in the Dail to bring down the Garda Commissioner, for instance; or random virtue signallers on Twitter wittering on about how the winner should give the money to the homeless, as if it was any of their business anyway - most of the comments were positive.

We all wished it had been us who'd won last Tuesday's mammoth jackpot, obviously. That's only human. But most people didn't begrudge whoever had got the golden ticket their good fortune.

Even Cork didn't moan too much about it, though, if anyone did have cause to be disgruntled, it was Leesiders.

For the first day or so, they'd been led to believe that the winning ticket had been sold in the city.

Speculation grew that a syndicate of 34 cleaners, maintenance workers, general operatives and administrative staff from Janssen Pharmaceuticals would soon be sharing out the loot.

Fitzpatrick's newsagents in Glounthane was even identified as the location where the winning numbers were placed, though Limerick and Mayo were also mentioned.

The reports turned out to be as inaccurate as Donald Trump's estimate of the White House crowd at his presidential inauguration.

Instead, the money's coming to Dublin. It could almost be a metaphor for the relationship between the two cities. Just when Cork thinks it's caught a break, Dublin pips it at the post again.

If the fuss has done nothing else, it ought to have convinced the lucky winner to keep his or her identity as tightly guarded as the Third Secret of Fatima.

No good comes of letting everyone find out that you're suddenly loaded. That only lets chancers know where to send the begging letters, complete with more fake sob stories than an X Factor audition. "I need the money for an urgent operation… I want to keep my poor old granny in comfort for the rest of her days… my wooden leg is rotting because of all the rain…"

Yeah, right. Most of them are professional scammers. The rest are just looking for someone to pay their beer money for a few weeks.

It's far better to keep your good fortune to yourself, and quietly distribute some cash to favoured charities if that's what you want to do.

And if you don't want to do that, that's fine, too.

There's an awful lot of bogus piety around the acquisition of unexpected wealth. The self-righteous tut-tut that no good can come of one person having so much money, though that's easy to say when it's not you with the cash in the bank.

Yes, it would have been nice if those 34 pharmaceutical plant workers in Cork had split the money between them, but most winners are generous with their winnings. Handouts to friends and family and charities make up the bulk of the largesse.

But there's also something glorious about people who just go on a mad spending spree, buying mansions and sports cars, golden toilet seats and diamond-encrusted slippers. Great wealth ought to be a joy, not a penance.

Irish Independent reporters stopped people out shopping in Dublin to ask what they'd spent the money on, if they won. The video's up on the website. Some just wanted new camera equipment, or a trip to the sun to escape the Irish winter. (Who wouldn't?)

But one young man had a list as long as Grafton Street.

"A big huge house in LA," he said, "marble floors, big pools out the back, Lamborghinis, a wrestling ring, and a couple of Pokemon, real-life ones, get them made."

Look at the sheer delight on his face as he rattles off his wish list. Now there's a guy who knows how to enjoy the finer things in life.

Injunctions against extravagance are hangovers from a Puritanical morality which thinks anything fun must be sinful. Money, sex, alcohol, full-fat yoghurt - you name it, someone somewhere is against it, and in a way it ought to be a lottery winner's duty to defy the killjoys.

That's what the slogan "it could be you" is all about. They're the dream to which we all aspire when we throw those few euro the National Lottery's way each week.

No one dreams of winning big just so that they can hoard the money like Ebenezer Scrooge. Like Viv Nicholson, the famous football pools winner in the 1960s, they want to "spend, spend spend".

Of course she blew the lot. Many of them do. Michael Carroll was another.

The self-styled "King of Chavs" was only 19 when he scooped £9,736,131 on the UK's lottery in 2002. By 2006, it was being reported that he was broke; in 2010, he applied for his old job as a binman.

Still he insisted that he had no regrets about the way he spent the money, and that's as it should be. Repentance would give the puritans too much satisfaction.

All assuming, of course, that the money hasn't been won by a barrister with a detached Victorian pile in South Dublin, in which case begrudgery would be an entirely appropriate response.

The lottery is about creating contemporary fairy stories, and fairy tales are meant to be about poor farmer's sons making it good, not kings who already have everything they need. That's why there was no rejoicing across the land when Enda Kenny won €25 last year in a draw at a GAA club in Longford for the second time in four months.

The Taoiseach reportedly told the club to spend it on drinks for the locals, but you can be sure that there were plenty of sarcastic quips about some people having all the luck. It's not as if the Mayoman's short of a penny, or pension, or two, after all.

Sunday Independent