There have been many major lottery winners in the relative short history of the South African Lotto, with millions paid out to countless lucky players across the country.
All these lottery winners get the money they have always wanted, but not all of them go onto lead the life they always wanted to lead. Some are lucky, investing wisely, spending carefully and keeping everything under control; others lose it all in a blaze of drugs, drink, greedy friends and bad investments.
From Misfortune to Fortune
A grandfather from Johannesburg went through a terrible time in the lead-up to 2017. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and while he was undergoing treatment he also lost sight in one eye.
He lost his job, and his days looked numbered. Lady Luck seemed to have overlooked him, leaving him with barely enough money to feed his family. In the summer of 2017 his luck finally changed when he won the jackpot, scooping an impressive R17 million.
And that wasn’t all, as doctors then told him that his cancer was in remission. He was healthy again—for the most part at least—and he no longer had to worry about scraping together enough money to pay his bills.
A player from Limpopo won the South African National lottery in 2002, scooping an impressive R11 million. But while many players take their money and run, quitting their job and enjoying a lifetime in the sun, this player decided that 11 million wasn’t enough.
He continued to play the lottery, investing more and more money in pursuit of another big win, believing that if he could do it once then he could do it again. And his persistence paid off, as he won again in 2009, winning nearly three times as much money.
On both occasions he chose to remain anonymous, but we know enough about him to know that he didn’t waste his money. He used it to ensure the best possible future for his children and to build a successful business, which helped to provide financial stability and to keep his fortune strong when other lottery winners would be losing theirs.
Sibusiso Cebekhulu Loses it All Quickly
Sibusiso Cebekhulu is one of the biggest cautionary tales where the South African lottery is concerned. That’s not his real name, but it’s the one attributed to a player who scooped the jackpot in 2000 and then proceeded to blow every penny.
According to the former winner he was the “laughing stock” of his community, with teachers and parents using his story to teach children how not to manage money.
By 2004, just 4 years after he won R1.9 million, he had nothing left and was living with his parents. A newspaper who had visited at the time described the house to be very “modest” and even noted that his clothes were “worn-out”.
It is believed that Cebekhulu blew the money on drugs, drink, designer clothes, restaurants and hotels. He dined out in fancy restaurants every night, spent time in high-class hotels and spent money like there was no tomorrow. But there definitely was a tomorrow and when it finally arrived Sibusiso Cebekhulu found himself penniless and bemoaning his extravagant spending.
Like so many lottery winners before him, Sibusiso Cebekhulu claimed that his friends began asking for handouts at every opportunity, with new friends and old friends coming out of the woodwork to make all kinds of requests. He gave loads away, wrote off cars and, at one point, was even hijacked.
Another Fall From Grace
Sibusiso Cebekhulu’s story was also mirrored by Patrick Dladla, a Melmoth resident who won over R1.4 million in 2002. At 49, Dladla was a little older and you could be forgiven for thinking that he was wiser when it came to spending his money, but it went just as quickly and easily.
Most of Dladla’s money went on cars, but after he also began loaning large amounts to friends and family, people who promised to pay him back but still owed him money years later, his fortune soon dwindled away to nothing.
Just 2 years after his big win and his spending spree, Dladla had sold his house and all of his cars and was left with nothing but the memories of his fortune and everything it had given him, as well as a number of friends and family members who owed him a lot of money.
According to lottery experts, the stories told by Patrick Dladla and Sibusiso Cebekhulu are far from unique. Many of their biggest jackpots end up in the hands of people who have been poor and even destitute throughout their lives, and when they finally get the money they have always dreamed of, they just don’t know what to do with it.
Someone who struggles to get hundreds and gets excited at the prospect of thousands, thinks that anything in the millions will last forever. But as these stories prove, that is just not the case.
From Unemployed to Millionaire
Lotteries really can change lives for the better, as was proved when an unemployed 30-year old man from Durban invested just R60 in the South African National Lottery and went on to win a jackpot of R34.4 million.
The first thing that this lucky winner wanted to do was buy himself a home, an opportunity that had not presented itself to him prior to the win and one he likely thought would never happen. He also made sure that his family were financially secure, buying a house for his parents and repaying their love and trust with financial stability.
This heart-warming story does not have a bad ending. He didn’t blow all of his money on poor decisions, drugs and drink. He simply used it to provide himself and his loved ones with the sort of security that had alluded them to that point. It’s the sort of thing that all lottery players tell themselves they will do, but something that often gets lost in the chaos of celebration, drugs, fast cars and handouts.