Isn’t the lottery a great idea? The chance to win millions after doing something as easy as buying a ticket or scratching a card is too good to be true. Well, sometimes lottery winners know a thing or two about managing money. Then are those unfortunate winners (the lottery curse) who either become victims of theft or jealousy or just all the money.
This couple happens to be on the unlucky side, which is only ironic considering they were extremely lucky when they won the money in the first place! Anyway, this is the story of Roger and Lara Griffiths, who won the lottery back in 2005. By 2008, they were broke. By 2013 they were divorced.
From the Jackpot to Bankruptcy
Sadly, most people who win the lottery wind up losing almost everything (if not all of it). At first, their debts are paid off, which is wonderful, but then they start spending, and spending, and spending. As soon as they know it, their once-loaded bank account is empty again. Here’s the thing: once you get rich, it’s hard to keep living the cheap life.
Roger and Lara won the jackpot in 2005 and couldn’t be happier. They made investments, put money into their dreams, and bought fancy clothes. But how did it turn out in the end? Well, not only did they lose everything, but Roger blamed Lara for it.
A Typical Nuclear Family
Roger and Lara were your run-of-the-mill British couple from West Yorkshire. Coming from working-class families of modest means, they were the typical nuclear family – married and two children. And like most families, making ends meet was always at the front of their minds. But one day, all of a sudden, they did something that would forever change their lives.
It was a move that made them both wealthy and famous, but in the way that Hollywood celebs are rich and famous. No, this story led the couple to find international media coverage because they went broke within three year of winning the lottery. Their story was too hard to miss.
The Winning Ticket
Roger and Lara were both college-educated and living a regular life in a typical town. Roger was an IT technician, and Lara was a teacher who helped children through the performing arts. Together, the couple was making about $100,000 per year, which is a nice living!
The couple, who liked to play the lottery here and there, bought a ticket in mid-October of 2005. Roger went into a convenience store to buy a ticket after work one day, perhaps feeling lucky. Obviously, it was the most shocking moment of his life when he discovered that his ticket was the winning one! He just cashed in on $2.4 million!
They Got Takeout and a Bottle of Cheap Champagne
Suddenly, he and his wife had more money than they expected to have, and just like that. The first thing they did was… not invest the money and not speak with a financial advisor. In fact, they didn’t even tell their parents! Instead, they did buy a bottle of cheap champagne, get some cheap take-out food, and celebrate at home.
Most people would run home and tell their families, but this couple didn’t. They did, however, do what most people would do – they quit their day jobs. The way they saw it at this point, they no longer needed to work.
Don’t Quit Your Day Job
For the first time in their lives, Roger and Lara felt liberated, as if the world was about to grant them anything they wanted. Little did they know what their future was going to hold for them. Any financial advisor would tell you never to quit your job right away when winning the lottery, but this couple didn’t really seek any advice.
Without a steady income stream, people can literally hemorrhage their money until there’s nothing left. Roger and Lara were clearly not looking to become just another statistic, but the money got the best of them.
A Couple Gone Wild
Before the lottery, Roger and Lara lived in the town of Boston Space in a lovely four-bedroom house in a pleasant neighborhood. There was no need to swap it for something flashier. They could now pay off their mortgage and live stress-free, right?
But they started to act like dogs off their leash. Instead of reasoning and planning for their family’s future, they simply went wild. Believe it or not, they blew $20,000 in the first ten days! What did they buy? Well, an Audi convertible and a trip to Dubai and with a five-star hotel.
Location, Location, Location
Then they got to the topic of where they were living. That lovely four-bedroom home in the pleasant neighborhood? That wasn’t interesting to them anymore. They decided they had enough of the old house and wanted a new one.
Roger and Lara were actually invited to appear on a reality show called Location, Location, centered on house hunting. They were featured in a special lottery winners episode, and with the help of the show, they found a vast, futuristic place in the countryside.
A New Fancy Home
A trip to Dubai, a new Audi, and a new home is undoubtedly a lot as it is. But this was only the beginning. When Roger and Lara bought their new home, it was empty. Most people would bring their old furniture to their new home – at least some.
But they weren’t like that. They decided to furnish it all from scratch and buy all those expensive appliances. They were buying pieces from top-of-the-line retailers. In the end, the furnishing of the new place cost them over $33,000.
With All the Fancy Renovations
Since the home was a former barn, they needed to renovate, too. So, yet another large amount of money had to be spent. Putting in insulation, repainting both the interior and exterior, and putting in AC isn’t cheap. Not to mention all the bathroom and kitchen fixes.
Roger and Lara added another $25,000 to their list of expenses. Despite not having jobs anymore, the couple still felt free to do whatever they wanted. Dubai was just one of the vacations they went on – the kinds only celebrities and millionaires go on.
Making it Rain in London
While their home was being renovated, they liked to stay at the One Aldwych, a fancy London hotel. It sounds about right that they needed a hotel to stay in, but the problem was the nightly cost—one single night at this sophisticated hotel costs around $400.
Next up on the extravagant to-do list was shopping, of course. Lara took this part a little too seriously. She began buying and wearing only high fashion designer labels, like Louis Vuitton. Money was being thrown around like crazy on the streets of London.
They Got The Kids Everything They Wanted
Let’s not get these two understood; they also spent money on their two daughters. Roger and Lara were willing to give their girls everything they asked for. One thing they did, in the beginning, was to send the girls to a posh and expensive private school.
This was a school that even members of the Royal Family and celebrity kids went to. The price per year? A cold $26,500. Yup. A pretty penny for sure. But such is the price of royalty – something Lara and Roger wished for themselves.
Botox and Tattoos
The girls were set and cared for; the house was getting ready, the car was in the driveway – what else could they spend their money on? Well, Botox, of course. Lara felt the need to start getting $350 injections.
Roger spent cash on his body, too, but not in the form of injections. He used a needle but for tattoos instead. He got one after the other until there was hardly any more room to get them. He even got Lara’s name tattooed on his body. Both of their body bills cost thousands. That’s pocket change, right?
A Beauty Salon?
Roger wasn’t completely careless, though. He happened to see this new money as an opportunity to make it grow even further. He even had some good business ideas – one of them was buying a beauty salon in Northern England.
His ideas didn’t stop there; he also decided to get into the real estate market. And so, he bought another house. Real estate is one of the safer markets to invest in, but these two weren’t the best at making future-friendly decisions. Roger also had another idea…
His Biggest Dream: To Be a Rockstar
Roger had one dream that put all the other ventures to rest. He always wanted to be the frontman of a rock band. Cliché? Perhaps. But Roger was in dream-actualizing mode, and nothing was going to stop him – not even the fact that he wasn’t even in a band in the first place.
Now that he had the tattoos, though, he at least looked the part. Next, he called up his old college bandmates to London to start recording some jam sessions.
An Epic Fail
While they stayed at an upscale hotel in the city center, they got to work. They hoped to get a gig here and there, and so he paid $1,500 a month to a publicist to get the word out. His hopes were high, but the results were really low.
Roger failed miserably. He released his first single, which didn’t go as planned. It hardly made any sales – only 600 copies. To add insult to injury, he had spent a total of $33,000 on this rock star adventure.
Still, She Was Proud of Him
The debts were wracking up slowly. Despite it all, Lara was very proud of her (wannabe) rock star husband. She praised him for not giving up on his dream and going for it. It’s a lovely thing, of course, for a spouse to be supportive. But there’s a limit, no?
Over 30% of lotto winners end up in bankruptcy after only a few years. Ironically, it means they wind up in a worse financial situation than they were, to begin with. Having money is pressure – for anyone, let alone fresh lotto winners.
The Housing Crash Affected Them, Too
The beauty salon idea proved to be another bad idea. Rather than it being a source of passive income, it became a source of constant spending. The investment was losing them $5,000 each month. Yet, they didn’t want to sell the place.
They figured that they would amass a slow and eventual fortune if they pour more money into it. Adding to the list of problems was the 2008 housing market crash, which affected the UK, too. The house they bought as an investment. Its value plummeted.
In a Matter of Three Years
After the housing crash, the couple was left with less and less money every single day. As the market value went down, so did their bank account. They first had $2.4 million, and now they were down to $900,000, just three years later.
Others would be stressed and scrounging for a solution. Roger and Lara? Not so much. The way they dealt with the loss of income was to go away to exotic locations. They did stay in slightly cheaper hotels, mind you. Another expense saved was cheaper alcohol.
A Marriage on the Rocks
The whole thing was taking a toll on Lara and Roger, though, and they weren’t getting along as well as they had. The marriage was slowly starting to fall apart, and it wasn’t just because of the money. There were several reasons.
For one, Roger spent too much of his time either sleeping or drinking. Lara wasn’t as lazy; she worked 60 hours a week keeping up their beauty salon business, trying her best not to let it sink into oblivion. Then something else happened…
Reaching a Boiling Point… Literally
If the money wasn’t enough of a stressor, Lara’s father, Stuart, passed away. Everything started crashing down from there. They were going from a rock to a hard place, and by the time Christmas passed that year, they reached a boiling point.
Quite literally, actually. The boiler room in their home exploded. A fire spread quickly and engulfed the home in a matter of minutes. Tragically, the house was utterly destroyed. Now they couldn’t live in it and had to get another place to stay.
He Started to Lose It
The house fire was not what they ever expected – just like winning the lottery. But they had to deal with the repercussions. After living a few years of lavish life, Roger started feeling the blues. He realized that they were slowly heading toward bankruptcy, and it made him depressed.
He was constantly in a bad mood, and he dealt with it by locking himself in his home office. He was becoming mentally unstable, and Lara started getting suspicious about her husband – the man she was once a lot prouder of.
That’s It! I’m Leaving!
Lara went through his emails and came upon a conversation he had with another woman. She figured that something like this would happen sooner or later. She used this discovery as a reason to end their 14-year marriage.
They had a big argument as Roger was shouting and packing his bags. He was yelling at Lara, telling her how pathetic and idiotic she was before shutting the door shut and taking off. Lara was furious. It didn’t help that Roger turned off his phone and couldn’t be reached.
Did He Have an Affair?
Lara didn’t know at that point if he was having an affair or not – he refused to even talk about it (which is a sign on its own, but whatever). She couldn’t understand why Roger was acting the way he was.
She still loved him at the end of the day. After an hour of his storming out, he called her. He told her that he hasn’t been happy for a long time and didn’t see a future for them as a couple. In his eyes, she was too controlling and miserable.
He Said, She Said
He didn’t say that he loved her nor that he would miss her. Things weren’t looking up for the failed rockstar, and he dreaded going back home. The once happy-go-lucky couple was now estranged and down in the gutter.
Both sides have given their sides of the story in separate interviews, and of course, they differ. He accused Lara of being spoiled and spending too much money. He said she had constant meltdowns, too. He’s only upset that he doesn’t see his daughters as much.
The End of Their Marriage
Their marriage officially came to an end. Even though Roger was miserable, it was Lara who filed for divorce. They started selling off everything they had, but all the investment properties and houses were sold for much lower than market value.
One of their properties was repossessed by the bank due to late payments. On top of all that, they had massive debts to pay off (go figure). To pay it all off, they were forced to have their house seized. Understandably, they were both devastated by the way things turned out.
Back to Work, Mister
Roger went so far as to see all his expensive clothes, but it’s not like it made much of a dent. He needed to find work again, which after many years, is a hard thing to do. And since their failure had already made the headlines, and people knew who he was, it didn’t make it easier for him to get hired.
Lara, who is now in her late 40s, says she doesn’t regret anything. She and her daughters are living in Harrogate, and she still works as a cosmetician. Believe it or not, she still plays the lottery. “I am waiting to win – I think I will! I think that will be the next stage in my catastrophic lottery career,” she said.
The Blame Game
Eventually, both Roger and Lara found new partners. Roger has remarried a woman named Samantha Major, who runs a cosmetics business. Like his ex-wife, Roger doesn’t regret anything. He got to live the life of a rockstar while he could.
But Lara has blamed Roger when interviewed about their fall from grace. “He’d f****d up everything,” is what she said. Roger never planned for it to end up that way, though. “It didn’t cross my mind that I’d end up here — the one thing I didn’t want to do was waste that money,” he said.
He Denies It
“Both of us wanted to try to turn our win into more,” he said. “I thought I was doing the right thing. I was the one who won that money, so I took responsibility.” In terms of blame, he denies Lara’s claim that their dramatic loss of fortune is his fault.
After they split, Lara kept living in the home, while Roger got a cottage by himself. He moved into the cottage in 2011, after he left the family home. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the moment Lara accused him of being unfaithful.
The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back
“She went ballistic,” he recalled. “It was the catalyst for me to think: “I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore.” He’s upset that he doesn’t live with his daughters anymore, but he noted that if he had stayed, he would have gone “mad.”
His financial situation hasn’t gotten much better, sadly. He and Lara lost their salon and another unoccupied investment property. Also unfortunate is that their daughters had to be pulled out of their private school and sent to public.
Lara and Roger are focused on moving forward.