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Last month saw an amazing tale of friendship from across the pond as two old friends split the $22M jackpot prize in the Wisconsin Powerball Lottery. The two friends from a small town called Menomonie had promised each other in 1992 that if either of them won the Lottery then they would split the winnings. 

So on the 10th June when Thomas Cook discovered that he had the only winning ticket in the weekly draw he remembered the deal they had agreed decades earlier and called his good friend Joseph Feeney . After hearing the life changing news on the phone call, Feeney a keen fisherman, said in disbelief ,“Are you jerking my bobber!”   

Following their huge win, Cook gave two weeks notice to his employer, joining his friend in retirement and is now planning on how to spend or invest their windfall. Explaining his act of kindness when interviewed by the Wisconsin Lottery, afterwards Cook said “A handshake is a handshake, man.” 

After taking the cash option and paying Federal and State taxes, Feeney and Cook each took home about $5.7M.

In Europe, tax is generally not payable on Lottery wins and in October last year a UK ticket holder won an astonishing £170M on the Euromillions draw. Tickets for Euromillions are sold in nine countries – the UK, France, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Irish Republic, Portugal and Switzerland. Whilst big Lottery wins make the headlines, it is often very difficult for the winners to adjust to the enormous life changing impacts of suddenly winning such a large sum. 

The UK National Lottery is still very popular and takings rise significantly when the Jackpot is rolled over. The UK Lottery began in November 1994 and is still run by the Camelot Group and around 25% of the money staked goes to good causes. It’s estimated that around £40 billion has been raised for good causes to-date. 

Lotteries are popular throughout Europe with perhaps the Spanish Lottery, sometimes referred to as El Gordo, and the Irish Lottery the most well known in the UK. The biggest ever Irish Lotto jackpot was worth €18.9 million, and was won by a syndicate of workers from Co Carlow in  June 2008. 

As measured by the total prize payout, the Spanish Christmas Lottery drawn on 22nd December each year is considered the biggest lottery draw worldwide. The dream of winning a life changing amount of money is still very important for people the world over, but how nice to be able to share that dream in real life with friends.

                

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