08 March 2017

Happy International Women’s Day!

Women Who Donated Their Lottery Winnings

Throughout our history, many heroines left their marks on the world with their acts of bravery, kindness and justice: Joanna D’Arc, Frida Khalo and Madre Theresa are just some of the names we all know. Nowadays, however, there are some names which very few people heard of, but we think they are worth a special mention on this important day.

Meet the women from our time who made a difference in the world doing something very few of us would do: they donated most of their lottery wins!

Women Who Donated Their Lottery Winnings

Who never daydreamt about winning the lottery? We’ve all made plans for our make-believe millions at least at some point of our lives. “Charity” or “helping friends and family” is, for many of us, one of the first items in our New Millionaire To-Do List, but let’s face it – until a certain point.

We do want to help people, but we also want to travel the world, to never have to work again, to buy a nice house, cars, nice clothes or whatever you are into. And it’s only normal once we get our hands on that kind of cash for the first time in our lives!

And that’s why the story of these women are so impressive. They did not change their lives with their lottery wins - they changed many other lives instead, by donating most of their brand new millions.

What better day than International Women’s Day to get to know these modern age heroines and their stories of altruism?

Sheelah Ryan: $55 million USD

This American woman from Florida won $55 million USD (approx. $72 million) in 1988, at age 63.  With the money, she  started a foundation which helps several causes – from poor elderly people to street cats. The Ryan Foundation also helped children in need for operations, built low-cost housing and paid overdue rent to spare single mothers and their children from eviction.

During the following 5 years, Sheelah held the title of the biggest individual winner in the history of lottery – until a man from Wisconsin won $110 million USD in 1993.

Her fortune was entirely directed to her Foundation and its several causes. Even after she died of a cancer in 1994, her legacy of humanitarian causes continued and lives until today with Ryan Foundation’s work.

"I think it was by the grace of God I won," Mrs. Ryan said in 1989. "I realized there must have been a reason He gave me the money, so I decided to give some of it to senior citizens and the homeless."

Hilda Floyd: $1 million USD

This lottery winner didn’t win a multimillion dollar prize like Sheelah Ryan did, but she was still willing to donate most of it to charity – and so she did. After only 10 months of having won $1 million USD (approx. $1.3 million) on Idaho’s Lottery (USA), she had donated about 90% of her winnings to charities, family members and the church.

She said in interviews that when she purchased the ticket she already knew what she was going to do with that money. She even announced, when collecting the big check, that the money would go to those in need – and her promise was fulfilled faster than anyone thought!

“You can only have so much money. You know what do you need it for? Give it away — make a difference in somebody’s life” said Floyd in an interview.

Hilda also mentioned that what made her happier the most was to be able to spread the wealth and make other people happier. Her act of kindness and generosity has inspired many winners after her!

Violet Large: $11 million CAD

78-year-old Violet and her husband, Allen, scooped CAD$ 11.2 million (approx. $14.3 million) in 2010 and became famous not because they were now lottery millionaires, but exactly because they chose NOT to be.

The Canadian couple donated every penny of their fortune to family members and over 60 public organizations (fire stations, hospitals and the like). “We’re not used to that kind of money,” Violet said when asked why she decided to give it all way. “So we wanted to share it with people who treat us well.”

They found out about their winnings in a much unexpected way: after cleaning the house and finding a ticket, Violet decided to call the lottery hotline to double check on the status of her ticket. After a few minutes, she realized that she was holding the jackpot ticket in her hands!

Since that moment they knew exactly what they were going to do with the money.

Margaret Loughrey: £27 million

This Nothern-Ireland winner became famous across Europe after she scooped £27 million (approx. $43 million) and decided to keep only £1 million for herself (approx. $1.6 million). In December 2013, Margaret was unemployed, living in a $93 dollar-a-week budget when she hit the jackpot in EuroMillions!

Within a few months she had given away half of her money. “I know what it’s like to have nothing. That’s why I’m giving it away – I can’t miss what I never had.” She said when asked why she decided to part with such a large sum.

She decided to invest the money in transforming her town in a touristic attraction, to generate jobs and boost the economy. Her priority was to help people who, like her, were in difficult financial situation because of unemployment.

“People just need to be given opportunities.” She said in an interview.

If you got inspired by these amazing women and you also would like a chance to change so many lives like they did, don’t forget to have a go yourself in one of our huge jackpots!