If counted out in £50 notes £101 million would weigh the same as an adult male white rhino, the lottery operator Camelot helpfully offered, or it would stack in a tower four times higher than Nelson’s column.
Dave and Angie Dawes will not be collecting their windfall in £50 notes – it has already been paid, as it happens, into a new private bank account set up on their behalf – but the scale of their enormous EuroMillions lottery win seemed scarcely less nonsensical as they were revealed as the winners of the third biggest lottery jackpot in British history.
A clutch of lucky friends and family members can also expect a windfall, said Dave. “We’ve drawn up a list of 15 to 20 people that we’re going to make millionaires. Anyone who has helped us through our lives.” (They had told the lucky ones already, he said, so if you haven’t heard, it’s not you.)
The former shift supervisor for Premier Foods in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, and the former British Heart Foundation charity shop volunteer – that’s “former” as of Friday night, when their numbers came up – were understandably a little shell-shocked as they struggled to articulate what it meant to have become, in a blink, twice as wealthy as Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow.
They had been watching the broadcast as the balls were drawn, Angie, 43, holding the ticket and exclaiming, as first one number came up, then another: “Oh my God, we’ve got another one. Oh my God, we’ve got another one.” By the time they had four she was screaming, said Dave, 47. By five she “went into meltdown”.
They slept not a wink, checking and re-checking the numbers “about 50 times during the night” before they could phone and confirm whether their life was, indeed, about to be altered irrevocably. Dave kept the ticket in the pocket of his jeans, which
he did not take off all night.
If the narrative of shellshock and bewildered glee, and the symbolism of giant cheques and clinked champagne glasses, was familiar after 17 years of British lottery wins, few could begrudge the couple their shy delight at the win and the different life it made possible.
Dave had promised Angie a new engagement ring to replace the £800 one he bought in H Samuel. She hadn’t looked yet, but “it’s going to be a diamond”.
The couple have been together for four years but they hadn’t married because they couldn’t afford it, she said, although she has changed her name to his.
Their planned wedding in Portugal next year – her second, his third – will now be “a bit more glamorous”.
Angie’s parents live in Portugal, and they will get a house there, she said, as well as one in Chelsea, close to Dave’s beloved football team. He had already had a look at one on the market for £13m, he said, but it needed refurbishment, “so I thought I would leave that alone”. He wants one room dedicated to Chelsea memorabilia, to which Angie has agreed – providing she gets to choose the paint colours.
The full value of their win took both lines of a giant cheque to spell out: “One hundred and one million, two hundred and three thousand, six hundred pounds and seventy pence”.
They posed obligingly for the cameras holding the cheque, then wearing a Chelsea shirt reading “101 million”, then spraying champagne, then spraying more champagne for the TV cameras that missed it the first time, then kissing – again – for the photographers. Camelot had even laid on a helicopter, destination unknown; all they would confirm was that it was not going to Wisbech, where the couple rented a one-bedroom flat.