£9.3m lottery winner ‘feared jackpot news was a scam’
Paul Long decided to put on a lucky dip after his favourite football team, Leyton Orient, won 3-0 at the weekend.
An unemployed football fan who scooped £9.3 million on the lottery said he refused to believe he had won because he feared it was a scam.
Paul Long, 55, put his luck down to his beloved Leyton Orient’s 3-0 win against Woking on Saturday, which he celebrated by buying the winning Lotto lucky dip ticket.
The father-of-three from Wickford, Essex, said he initially believed he had won £9,000 before his friend pointed out to him he had scooped the jackpot.
He received an email on Sunday morning from Camelot saying he had won but when he logged in, saw his account only had £3.90 left.
After ringing the customer helpline, he said he “must have been in denial” and came away believing he had won £9,000.
Mr Long said: “I’ve rung my mate and told him and he said, ‘text me the ticket over’.
“He then said: ‘Hi mate, I’m not being funny, you’ve won £9 million.’
“I said: ‘Shut up.’”
He rang the Lotto helpline back to confirm he was the sole jackpot winner and ask: ‘is this a scam?’.
Mr Long said: “He said: ‘Yeah I confirm it’s £9 million – you’re a multi-millionaire, blah-de-blah.’
“I said: ‘Mate, are you in a room full of people having a wind up or something?’ and he was like: ‘No, this is real, you are really the winner Mr Long.’
“I was really excited but I couldn’t be because I was so scared it wasn’t. You won’t let your emotions believe it is.
“You’re looking for negatives and anything that makes it not real.”
Mr Long Googled the adviser’s name and then, still in disbelief during a sleepless night at around 3am on Monday morning, he Googled the adviser again and watched a video which featured their distinctive voice.
Mr Long said: “I said to my daughter, ‘It’s real Bec, I’m telling you it’s real.’”
He explained he had been a victim of fraud before and that he was naturally suspicious.
“I’d had a credit card fraud online.
“Going back a few years, I had a £9,000 limit on the card and I only had about £200 on it, I’d only used it once online because it was a new card.
“And they done me for the whole £9,000 so that was the only scam.
“But someone else, an ex-partner about the year before had been scammed from her bank.
“So all these things stick in my head.”
After hanging up the call, Mr Long then told his close family as the result sank in.
He said: “I think I opened a bottle of Coors Light and then thought, you know what, I need a cup of tea.”
I'm just a normal guy - I don't want a Lamborghini Lotto winner Paul Long
The following day Mr Long, who worked at the Ford plant in Dagenham for more than 14 years, put a deposit on a new Ford EcoSport worth at least £23,600.
He said: “I’m just a normal guy – I don’t want a Lamborghini.
“I would never buy something like a £100,000 car because that’s just not who I am.”
Having been unable to work for 11 months after injuring his Achilles tendon while pulling a suitcase up the stairs, Mr Long’s job hunt is now permanently on hold.
While he is living in a rented home at the moment, he said he has no extravagant spending sprees planned and wanted to use the money to give his 27-year-old daughter and two sons, aged 24 and 21, a secure future.
But Mr Long, who is divorced from their mother, said: “I’m not going to make them millionaires.
“I think they should learn the value of things.
“I want to give them a life where I know they are going to be alright – that’s what I take satisfaction from.
“I’m in control – buy a couple of properties, probably for them in the future, buy one for myself, again not a mansion.
“Have a holiday at some point, other than a caravan.”
But he said he has no plans to invest in the football club he has supported since he was 11, although he may fork out to watch the matches in more expensive, “luxury” seats.
He said: “What I’ve won, (Orient major investor) Kent Teague probably thinks is a tenner.
“The investors have a lot more money than me and a club like Leyton Orient don’t make money, they lose money every year.
“In reality, I don’t want to lose money every year.
“They are doing a fantastic job.”
Danny Macklin, the east London club’s chief executive, was at the Orsett Hall Hotel, in Orsett, Essex, on Wednesday to congratulate Mr Long.
Orient were taken over last summer by a consortium led by another boyhood fan, Nigel Travis, the chief executive of Dunkin’ Donuts, who rescued a club that had been at risk of going bust under previous ownership.