So, if you were to spend £2 on a lottery ticket today, and you matched all seven numbers numbers AND you were the only person to do so... You'd win £157 Million. ($242 Million)
ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY SEVEN!... MILLION!... POUNDS!
What could you do with that amount of money? Well, I guess you could do pretty much anything you wanted - I know I'd go mental, buying black market badgers and teaching them to sing showtunes and suchlike, but I think you'll agree that it's a proper game-changing amount of money.
You could do a lot of good - You could pay the wages for a nurse (Pay band 5, point 1 - for my NHS chums) for nearly seven and a half thousand years. Or, conversely, you could pay Wayne Rooney's wages for ten years. (Feel sick about how our sad society thinks that balding Granny-shaggers that play a child's game for an hour and a half a week are somehow seven hundred and fifty times more important than people who actually save lives yet? I certainly do.)
It's higher than the Gross National Product of the entirety of Micronesia (A chain of island-states just north of Australia) and you could possibly therefore buy it and pronounce yourself King, or Emperor or some other high muck-a-muck and find yourself owning a potential fortune in High-Quality Phosphates - You'd need a big wallet though, especially if you decided to live on the island of Yap, where the local currency consists of carved stone disks, up to twelve feet in diameter. You could introduce some sort of credit system, the islands chiropractors would then worship you as their God. (or possibly kill you and eat you as you'd have taken away all their business).
You could buy four, brand new, AH-64D Apache Longbow Attack Helicopters, one for each member of the family perhaps, and make parking worries a thing of the past. You might even have enough left over to teach you how to fly them. (It seems that there's a bit more to flying one of these buggers than it shows you on the XBox - It's like balancing a tea-tray on an oily ball bearing, in a high wind, or so I'm reliably informed.)
But all the mad things aside, what would you actually do?
If you were sat at home tonight and my very good and close friend, Mr Nick Knowles (or whoever presents it nowadays) reads out those seven numbers and you look at the screen, then look at your ticket, then back at the screen, ticket, screen, ticket. Once the screaming and the explosive defecation had subsided, you'd check the numbers again and then read the back of your ticket to see what to do next. So you ring Camelot and (I don't know because obviously it's never happened to me, but I assume...) They ask you some questions, maybe where you bought the ticket, if you'd like publicity or not, did you want to come to London to collect a cheque, or shall they put it straight into your Post Office savings account?
Would the paranoia set in now do you think? Would you start thinking that every person in the world wanted your ticket? What would you do with it whilst you slept? What if someone breaks in and steals it? What if your wife slits your throat and makes off with it? What if the dog eats it? What if the wind blows through your draughty double-glazing and blows it into the oven, that was still warm from when you reheated a plate of leftovers from yesterday and the cat walks over the button that sends the spark to relight it and it catches on fire?
Then you try to calm down, because you realise that you're about to have a debilitating brain aneurysm - which would be ironic, according to Alanis Morrisette at least.
Then you think... A nice holiday whilst you take it all in, perhaps a couple of months in America. DisneyWorld, Route 66, Hollywood, Californian beaches, maybe even a beachfront house (You can get something quite nice with five bedrooms and eight bathrooms for $20 Million on Laguna beach) where you can spend the summers.
And then maybe a new car, you imagine walking into the Audi dealership, dressed in your pyjamas and your old dressing gown that your Auntie Edith bought you for Christmas in 1987, walk up the the salesman and say, 'I'd like a matching pair of R8 V10 Spyders please, and what's your price for cash?' Then you open the aluminium suitcase full of stacks of £50 notes and watch as he does a sex-wee and crumples to the floor with his eyes rolling back into his head and his arms and legs spasming uncontrollably.
But you'd need somewhere to live, you wouldn't emigrate, because you're staunchly British and you realise that foreign lands are all very well to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there (there are usually flies, and the distinct possibility of poor people, who in all likelihood sweat all over the place and make it look untidy.) So you'd buy some land, and engage some hardworking and artistic people to build you a stately pile. It'd be a castle though wouldn't it, really? From the outside it would look like something that could repel an invasion from an unwashed medieval horde for six months. You'd have a high wall, and possibly a moat, with hammerhead sharks (because my wife says I can't have killer whales), because even though the initial paranoia has worn off, you still know that there're a list of people as long as your arm that think they deserve what you've got and are willing to take it by force.
Your castle would have a cinema, because going to the cinema is great, you might have a nightclub for having parties in, and a gym, obviously. Perhaps you could cultivate the friendship of everyone's favourite 'Dragon', Duncan Bannatyne and he could get you a good deal on some decent equipment. I'd personally supplement all this with a games room, the normal stuff like pool and snooker tables maybe even Ski-ball... And also a number of high-end gaming computers with 50" HD Monitors. Maybe a bowling alley, but definitely a shooting range for guns and bows.
Other possibilities include one of those Wacky Warehouse type places, but adult sized. A swimming pool with built in jaccuzi and water-slides coming from each bedroom. You'd probably have bought some woodland too, then you could get some of those crusty type new-age chaps to build you a completely awesome tree-house / suspended walkway / Ewok habitats where you can sit in the autumn, drinking Fortnum and Mason hot chocolate whilst you take potshots, with your air-rifle, at people poaching rabbits on your land.
I'd have a cave too, built in the cellar, where all the walls have been sculpted out of something that looks like solid rock, but not that Star-Trek expanded foam stuff, painted to look like rock, something solid that you could bang a nail into to hold up a picture or something, should the mood take you. It would have my writing computer, which would be like the gaming computers, but with twin, A4 sized monitors side by side... And I'd be able to dictate stuff to it and it would tell me if it was rubbish or not. It would also have a dumbwaiter that led to the kitchen (that was big enough for me to fit in, because I've always wanted to do that.) And a soundproofed mini cinema, because occasionally you want to watch films in private, with the door locked, on a heated and Scotchguarded La-Z-boy. *Cough*
I guess I'd put a massive wodge of cash in the bank for the kids futures, maybe share it out a Little too, pay my close friends and families debts off, give em a million or so on top. Actually, that's a point... If it were you, would you give everyone the same amount, to save on arguments, or would you employ a 'sliding scale' process? Something like - 'I like you, but you borrowed my George Foreman grill last year and broke it, so I'm taking £100,000 off your award' or 'Actually, even though I've only really known you for a couple of months, you've been quite cool about the time you caught me staring down your top when you bent over, so have another £250,000.'
It's a proper minefield isn't it?
Is it all worth the hassle?
Could you cope with the constant worry about yourself or your family being kidnapped and held for ransom, the deluge of begging letters when people you haven't seen for years find out and come crawling out of the woodwork?
All you'd have in return is everything you've ever dreamed of?
It's a difficult question and no mistake, but as I sit here, riding around my personal skating rink made from ice from Jupiter's moon Europa, on the back of my platinum plated narwhal, I would say yes, it jolly well is worth it and I would repeatedly shoot anyone who says different.
That reminds me, I really must put an advert for a new chef in next month's Country Life.